Meditations - The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple
The Gospel according to St. Luke, ii. 22-32.
"And after the days of her purification, according to the law of Moses, were accomplished, they carried Him to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord, as it is written in the law of the Lord: Every male opening the womb shall be called holy to the Lord; and to offer a sacrifice accord ing as it is written in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtle doves, or two young pigeons. And be hold there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Ghost was in him. And he had received an answer from the Holy Ghost that he should not see death be fore he had seen the Christ of the Lord. And heame by the Spirit into the temple. And when His parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he also took Him in his arms and blessed God, and said : Now Thou dost dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, according to Thy word in peace. Because my eyes have seen Thy salvation which Thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples: a light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel."
Summary of the Morrow's meditation
From the cradle of the Incarnate Word, we will go to the temple of Jerusalem, whither the Child-God caused Himself to be transported, forty days after His birth, and we shall meditate: First, on the sacrifice which He made of Himself to His Father ; Second, on the great love with which He made this sacrifice. We will then make the resolution : First, to seize joyfully all opportunities of mortifying and conquering ourselves ; Second, to perform all our actions in a spirit of love and of sacrifice. Our spiritual nosegay shall be the words of the Psalmist : "I am Thy servant ; give me understanding that I may know Thy testimonies" (Ps. cxviii. 125).
Meditation for the Morning
Let us transport ourselves in spirit to the temple at Jerusalem, let us beg of the Blessed Virgin to place in our arms her dear Son, as she did in the arms of the holy old man Simeon ; and, pressing Him in spirit to our breast, let us render to Him our homage of adoration and of praise, of gratitude and of love.
First Point - The Sacrifice which the Infant Jesus in the Temple made to His Father
Jesus Christ, from the time of His entrance into the world, had indeed said to His Father, as David and St. Paul tell us "Sacrifice and oblation Thou wouldst not, but a body Thou hast fitted Me. Holocausts for sin did not please Thee. Then said, Behold I come; in the head of the book it is written of Me that I should do the will, O God" (Heb. x. 5-7). But this sacrifice was made in the secret of His heart. Now He comes to make it public and solemn, in company with Mary and Joseph, the old man Simeon and Anna the prophetess, who were permitted to be the happy witnesses of it. Let us admire this sublime offering, destined to take the place of all the ancient sacrifices. Whilst Mary presents in her pure hands the Child-God to His Father, The abases Himself before the Eternal Majesty ; He adores Him with highest esteem, with profoundest reverence; He consecrates to Him the whole of His being, and He offers Himself as the universal victim in the name of the whole creation. Oh, how glorious for God was this day, and how precious for us ! It is the day which the prophets foresaw athwart the course of ages and which they hailed from afar in these magnificent words : "Shout for joy, O daughter of Jerusalem ; behold thy King will come to thee, the just and Saviour" (Zach. ix. 9). "Yet one little while and the Desired of all nations shall come, and I fill Jill this house with glory, saith the Lord of Hosts" (Agg. 7,8). "And presently the Lord whom you seek, and the Angel of the Testa ment whom you desire shall come to His temple. Behold He cometh, saith the Lord of Hosts " (Mai. iii. i). "The majesty of the Lord went into the temple by the way of the gate that looked to the East and the house was filled with the glory of the Lord" (Ezech. xliii. 4, 5).
At the sight of this divine offering, who does not feel at the bottom of his heart that it is a duty for him to consecrate him self wholly to the Lord and to say to Him in union with the adorable Victim of today : I am wholly Thine, O my God, to serve Thee (Ps. cxviii. 125). My possessions, my body and soul, all is dependent on Thy sovereign power; I give them up entirely into Thy hands, I no longer belong to myself. Oh, who will enable me to understand these words : I am no longer my own ; therefore I ought not to seek myself in anything ; no more self-will, no more attachments, no more self-love? Whether I am placed in a high or low condition, whether I am remembered or whether I am forgotten, whether I am praised or blamed, what does it signify? I am no longer my own, I am wholly Thine, O my God! Let, then, Thy good pleasure dispose of me and of all the mo ments of my existence, as Thou wiliest; I will never complain; I will always adore and bless Thy will in regard to me, for I am no longer my own.
Second Point - The Love with which the Infant Jesus makes His Sacrifice
Two sentiments lead the Infant Jesus to the temple : the love of God, His Father, and the love of men, His new brethren; the love of God, be cause He desires to make reparation to His out raged glory, and raise up His worship which has hitherto been little worthy of His great majesty ; the love of men, because He desires to save them from eternal damnation, and to give back to them heaven, which they had lost by their sins. It was on Calvary that this immortal King of ages was to fully satisfy this double love ; but it was too long to wait until then: His heart could not bear the delay (Luke xii. 50). The fortieth day after His birth He caused Himself to be borne to the temple. Up to that time the offering of the first-born, according to the prescription of the law, had derived all its merit from the pious disposition of the parents, and the new-born child, who was still devoid of reason, could not add any value to it ; but in this case it was quite otherwise. With what love of God Jesus offered Himself to His Father to glorify Him, and with what love for men He immolates Himself that He may save them! Oh, what a mystery! These men are a thousand times unworthy of His love ; they have outraged Him, they will still outrage Him ; and yet He loves them to such a degree that He offers Himself as a sacrifice for them; He foresees all that it will cost Him, of humiliations, of sufferings, of bitter sorrows, to save them ; it does not signify; such is the ardor of His love that He heartily accepts all that He foresees of sacrifices; He offers His august head that it may one day wear the crown of thorns; He offers His feet and His hands to receive the impression of the nails; all His little body to be torn and wounded; all His soul to be imbued with shame and contempt, and His heart, His heart so loving, to be transpierced through and through by the lance of the soldier. O Saviour God, how Thou didst love me on the day of Thy presentation! What heart, whilst meditating on these things, could help being melted with love? Oh, how well Thou dost teach me thereby what love is when it burns the heart He who loves God and his brethren is capable of the greatest sacrifices; those only are base and pusillanimous whose hearts do not love. O love! come then and consume me, so that I may live only to love! O love! come and take posses sion of my whole being, so that all the pulsations of my heart maybe henceforth nothing but pulsa tions of love!
Resolutions and spiritual nosegay as above.