I’ve always liked this feast of the Presentation of Lord. For me it dramatizes how fully the Holy Family entered into the religious practices of ordinary Jews of their time. Like all Jewish families, Mary and Joseph brought their son to the temple to be offered to the Lord. In their family observance of the prescribed religious practices of their religion, the Holy Family becomes a model for families today for practicing faith. Our age needs this reminder.
And today’s epistle reminds us of a truth about Jesus we sometimes forget: in his human nature Jesus is like us! The epistle explains that since Jesus is our high priest interceding for us to God he “had to become like his brothers and sisters in every way.” So like us, Jesus suffered and was tested and “because he himself was tested through what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.”
Too often we assume that since Jesus was “fully divine” -- and not only “fully human” -- he must have been spared from sharing fully in the human condition. We assume falsely that his divine nature kept him from experiencing our suffering. But not so.
In recent years the Church has been reiterating the truth of Jesus’ full humanity as taught by the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451. Consider this startling statement in “The Church Today” from the Second Vatican Council: “For by his incarnation the son of God has united himself in some fashion with every man. He worked with human hands, He thought with a human mind, acted by human choice, and loved with a human heart. Born of the Virgin Mary, He has truly been made one of us, like us in all things except sin.”
We Christians have the immense consolation of knowing that when we bring our trials and tribulations to Jesus he fully understands: “He has truly been made one of us, like us in all things except sin.”
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