See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Malachi is the last of the 12 minor prophets; he wrote about 445 B.C. His text is made up of six distinct oracles. Today we ponder his last oracle, as it speaks of the “final messenger.” On today’s feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (with its blessing of candles), we find the actual fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy as Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem. Jesus is in fact God’s messenger, thus fulfilling God’s promise as Mark records: “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way.” (Mark 1:2).
Imagine Mary and Joseph, intent on fulfilling the Law, entering the Temple with understandable fear as they bring their firstborn to God. They offer their simple gift of turtledoves, as prescribed. Then Simeon presents Jesus to God with the usual words of the Jewish ritual.
Only with the perspective of time do we comprehend the meaning and mystery of this simple gesture by these two young parents, these special friends of God. Perhaps a reminder to each of us that our own simple gestures of faith and daily living may well carry meaning far beyond what we hope and imagine. God’s own generosity will never be outdone!
—The Jesuit prayer team
For unto us a child is born; unto us a child is given.
And the government shall be upon his shoulders,
And his name shall be called: Wonderful, Counselor,
the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
—George Frideric Handel, The Messiah