The Presentation: 4th S. 2020

Today’s reflection is for the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, February 2, 2020, and the readings can be found by clicking here. This post continues the theme of “The Holy Family.”
Let me first be clear, Jesus was NOT Christian! Jesus was Jewish. His family was Jewish, and his religious community was Jewish too. We who follow him, recognize him as the Christ, the anointed one of God, and through the mystery of Baptism, we come to share in his anointing, and that makes us Christian–not him.
Today’s Gospel reads, “When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord.”

Jesus had great parents who took their Jewish religion seriously. They were both open to the prompting of God, which brought the Savior into the world. They listened to their conscience and did what was right by God–and so should we who strive to be holy families. The Holy Family brought their child to be circumcised according to the law of Moses so that he might be presented to the community. When the community has a new member, it is cause to celebrate!

Circumcision is not just a custom that Jews do when their children are eight days old, however. It is a way of making public what had been to that point a more private affair, the birth of a child into a family. Circumcision publicly commits a child into the family of God–into a Holy Nation. And the nation rightly celebrates the growth of the nation by new membership!
As Christians, we do not circumcise, but we do Baptize! Baptism has, for Christians, replaced circumcision as a sign of entry into the people of God. It takes on all the same significance that circumcision does for Jews, and more!
Baptism ushers us into the family of God, presents us to the community (which is why baptisms should take place within liturgical celebrations), cleanses us of sin, and makes us sharers in God’s work of salvation. We don’t know of any other way to be united with the Savior, with the community of faith, and to experience salvation through him (C.C.C. 1213). “Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life... Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission.”

Holy Parents do wait to bring their child to the Church, the community of faith. They bring their child forward as early as possible to be cleansed of the stain of original sin and be born again of water and Spirit. To be presented to the community, to God, and to receive His grace, friendship, and love.

It’s not only about heaven and hell, it’s about life and love, and community, and welcoming the newest member of the Church. Baptism is amazing. No wonder the church teaches parents not to wait…why would you?!

I often hear that baptism is for individuals to choose, not have the choice made for them, or so goes the argument for adult baptism, but the truth is that my children were born into my family without choice. They were named without choice. They were fed without choice. And they brush their teeth without choice.

As a loving parent, it’s my job to do what’s good for my children. And I believe in the real grace and salvation of baptism. Why would a loving parent who believes in God, and the power of sacraments, and who belongs to a community of faith, not publicly celebrate that child’s entry into the community at any age?

Baptism is not about what an individual chooses or does, but is rather first and foremost what God is doing. God is naming, God is blessings, God is saving. We respond as best as we can. Throughout our whole life we respond as best as we can. And some days are better, and some worse, but I know that I forever belong to a community of faith and am a child of the most holy God. And holy families want that for their children too. Like Rafiki in The Lion King, present the child. Amen.

For YouTube video presentations of other reflections, please click here.

By Deacon Stephen Valgos

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