Lucius Cary SSJE on The Presentation

The Mystery of Self-Oblation: the Presentation

The deliverance of the chosen race from Egypt was always seen by them as a type of the great deliverance that was yet to come, and the separation unto God of the first-born as a token of that deliverance which is the fruit of sacrifice. Just as all that has gone before in the history of Israel leads up to the scene in the temple where the aged Simeon welcomes the child and his virgin mother, so it is from this presentation that the spirit of oblation will flow down through the ages still to come. In our Lord’s own life it foreshadows the great presentation on Calvary; it belongs intrinsically to that oblation by which our redemption will be wrought out on the altar of the Cross. It is the embodiment of the spirit of ungrudging self-devotion that yields to the will of God for the purposes of God: the salvation of the human race, the restoration to Love of those who had been estranged from him.

We are moving in the world of Spirit now. The eternal purpose is veiled beneath the simple ceremonial, but it is there—mighty, purposive, divine. God’s great salvation is enshrined in this new- born babe who in eternal Spirit has come to offer himself to God. So it is that Simeon, led by the Spirit into the temple to greet the incarnate Word, recognizes that salvation comes not from human endeavour but from the fact that Jesus is here. Taught by the Spirit, Simeon discerns three things in the child whom he adores: the presence of God incarnate, the holiness of God incarnate, the sacrifice of God incarnate. By these three things the world is to be redeemed—that is why the angels sang Gloria in excelsis and why Simeon now breaks forth into his Nunc dimittis.

Because the holy One of God came into our condition to offer himself to the Father, God draws us too to give our lives completely to him, that body, soul and spirit may be his forever—for him to order, for him to sanctify, for him to accept as our response to eternal love.

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