Season of Joy: Week Four – The Presentation5 Dec 2018
Praying with the Joyful Mysteries: Jesuit Communications offers a series of reflections around the five Joyful Mysteries. This week, we explore the Presentation in the Temple.
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Gospel reading: Luke 2:22-40
This week we contemplate the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. This ritual purification is important.
Then Simeon enters the picture and the day takes on a striking new significance.
Recognising Jesus as the Messiah he exclaims, ‘My eyes have seen your salvation.’ The prophet, Anna, also recognises ‘the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem’. These moments of recognition are true moments of joy. People are beginning to see that God is with them, and that glory is to come on God’s holy people.
- Jesus is presented in the Temple as a newborn. At what moments in our lives do we present ourselves to God? What were your experiences of these moments?
- Simeon and Anna have the wisdom to see what others cannot. Who are the people in your life whose wisdom you trust? What is it about them that makes you trust them?
- Simeon warns Jesus’ parents that ‘a sword will pierce your own soul too’. Even in moments of joy, we’re reminded of potential sadness in our future. Why would God want that to be part of the human experience?
- The prophet Anna is moved to speak to Mary and Joseph in the Temple. When have you been moved to speak to others about faith and hope for the future?
- ‘The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom, and the favour of God was upon him.’ We don’t hear much about Jesus’ early life. What do you imagine it was like?
Presenting myself to God
Mukesh Patel SJ worked at the Mater Hospital in Brisbane for 28 years. He is now a Jesuit brother based at Sevenhill in South Australia. Here, Mukesh reflects on experiences of faith that led to his own presentation experience.
For a long time, I was a chef at the Mater Hospital. I used to always go to visit patients in the wards. One day I went to see a patient who was losing a lot of weight. I went to her room and knocked, and there was a woman in this bed in a full habit. She was a Carmelite nun.
I went in there to talk about her food. After that she started to talk with this real passion about God and the love of God, and at that time my mind was completely away from God. Listening to her really took me away from where I was, to think ‘oh that sounds quite good’. She was very passionate. It stuck in my head.
I was always curious about God, and this was a time in my life I thought I could do anything or be anything I want. I like religion, I like stories about Jesus. So, I went to visit the Mercy nun who used to run the hospital, Sister Angela Mary. I asked her about how to go about becoming Catholic. Then I went to visit my local priest and he explained the RCIA program to me. I started going along to this group to talk about spiritual things leading into Easter.
When I was baptised I was nervous because I wasn’t sure how it was going to happen. We were told we would each go in front of the congregation during the ceremony. There were eight or nine of us so I wasn’t by myself. We were presented with a stole made by parishioners, and a Bible. Then the ceremony took place on Easter Saturday.
We each went individually to the priest and had water poured over us. I’m not a public person so this was a bit unusual – but it was an exciting feeling.
Each time I remember that day something always comes to me. It was like when Jesus was baptised in the River Jordan, when a voice from heaven said, ‘my beloved son, I’m very proud of you.’
After nearly three decades at the Mater hospital, I decided to join the Society of Jesus. During my Jesuit novitiate I did a retreat and I now say one thing all the time: God always loves me, despite what I do to God. I can’t stop him loving me. The blessing I had received at baptism got a bit firmer.
Later, when I took vows, we invited our neighbours from Mount Druitt. It was a really nice feeling to have these people come, especially those who had never been in church before. And to have family there alongside all those Jesuits there to welcome me.
It was the Feast of the Presentation and I suppose I was presenting myself to God.
For more weekly prayer and spirituality reflections, go to www.pray.com.au.James O'Brien is an Editorial Assistant with Jesuit Communications.