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The Presentation, Feb.

2, 2014 (Malachi 3:1-4; Hebrews 2:14-18; Luke 2:22-40) Catholic Bibles place the prophet Malachi as the last book of the Old Testament. In Hebrew Bibles, Malachi comes immediately before the Book of Psalms. Many Protestant Bibles follow the arrangement in the Hebrew. So what? By placing the prophets last in the Old Testament and Malachi in particular, Catholics saw in Malachi 3:1: And suddenly there will come to the temple the Lord whom you seek a prophetic fulfillment when Jesus comes to be presented in the temple in Jerusalem (only in Lukes Infancy Narrative). Moreover, the mention of My messenger is easily seen as a reference either to Jesus, or to John the Baptist, who prepared the way for Jesus. Either way, Malachi was thought a perfect lead-in to the New Testament. The Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint) ended with the Prophet Malachi, and since the early Church relied heavily on the Septuagint, we have the most likely explanation for the arrangement of the books. The arrangement in the end is the work of sages who carefully considered many things before arranging the books as they did. The books, in any case, are not arranged in chronological order. They had different stories to tell and they told it in different ways, sometimes over centuries of additions, deletions and corrections. The Presentation occurs forty days after the birth of Jesus which required that the mother (Mary) be purified. Leviticus 12:2-8 required a woman bearing a male child to stay out of circulation for 40 days. Had Jesus been a female, Mary would have had to hide for 66 days. We should also note that the Presentation is found only in Lukes Gospel. The Law that is cited as the Holy Family comes up to Jerusalem is a combination of Exodus 13:2 and Leviticus 12:8. The only way to

approach Jerusalem from any direction is by going up. They still joke in Jerusalem today that leaving Jerusalem is always a step down. Simeon is the first prophet-like figure to appear on the scene. He comes into the Temple at this time directed by the Spirit and blesses God, which was a prayer of praise to God for allowing him to see in the child the beginning of Israels salvation and that of the gentiles as well. Simeons blessing sounds more like a curse when he speaks to Mary his mother. He anticipates what the rest of the gospel will reveal about Jesus, a sign that will be contradicted. He also announces to Mary that she will be troubled by her son too (as in the visit to the Temple when he was 12), not that she will be injured, and you yourself (literally your psyche or spirit) a sword will pierce. The thoughts of many hearts being laid bare seems to refer to the deliberations people will go through in assessing and reassessing their own thought about Jesus as Messiah. Finally Anna, who must have been very old indeed, if she was a widow for 84 years, comes by. Assuming she was married at the age of twelve, adding seven years of marriage and 84 years as a widow that would make her at least 103. Her prophecy connected the child with Israels redemption (probably meant to be from all her enemies). This was anticipated when the Messiah would come. This Presentation scene is thus much more about the revelation of Jesus as Messiah than it is about his being presented in the Temple to fulfill prescriptions of Jewish Law regarding firstborn sons. Fr. Lawrence Hummer