Today we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. The Jewish people “presented” their children to the Lord in the temple shortly after their birth. In the first reading from Malachi 3, the Lord says, “And suddenly there will come to the temple the Lord whom you seek.” And in the second reading from Hebrews 3, it says that “[Jesus] had to become like his brothers and sisters in every way.” And so He did. Coming into the world as a Jewish baby boy, He was presented to the Lord in the temple.
The Gospel reading from Luke 2 gives a moving account of this event. Please take the time to read it. You will be moved by the words of Simeon. Basically, the Jewish parents were saying to God, “Lord, this child belongs to you. Do with him as you please. Give us the grace to raise him up in your ways.” Mary and Joseph presenting Jesus in the temple is very similar to when we, as Catholics, baptize our children.
Unfortunately, I dare say that many Catholics have lost that sense of “presentation” when baptizing their children. But this is exactly the mindset that we need to have. Baptism is the entry into the new covenant. When we baptize our children, our overriding thought should be, “Lord, this child belongs to you. May your will be done in his or her life.” And come to think of it, this prayer should not end with baptism. We should be praying that prayer for our children every day of their lives!
Father, we thank you for honoring us with your children. As they are yours to begin with, may we offer them back to you each day. Amen.