Preparing for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

This year the Presentation replaces the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

The psalm chosen for today’s Liturgy of the Word almost certainly has its origins in a hymn sung at the Temple of Jerusalem, perhaps in a Liturgy which saw the ark of the covenant returned to the Temple after a battle (cf 1 Samuel 4). It is a psalm sung today in Jewish liturgy when the holy Torah is returned to the Ark after the proclamation of God’s word.

In our Catholic liturgy this Sunday we use only the second part of the psalm, which most lends itself to the principal focus of the feast, ie the coming of God’s only-begotten son to our world, and his being welcomed by Simeon and Anna, representatives of God’s faithful down the ages.

The verses of the psalm omitted by the Lectionary broaden the vision: The meaning of the (presumed) Temple ritual of its orginal setting is not about king and state and cult, here but principally about the Lord who is Creator of all that is.

Likewise our 21st Century celebration of this Sunday’s Feast is no ‘mere’ ritual or even’just’ a commemoration of a particular event in the life of the Holy Family. Our ritual, our commemoration raises questions about faithfulness to God and his creation and plan much more broadly.

As always the scripture is as much about us as it is about others.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 23(24):7-10

(NB the text set for Sunday is given below in bold and in ‘quote sections’ below; the rest is the immediate biblical text from which the Lectionary text is extracted)

Psalm 24 (23)

1     A Psalm of David.

      The Lord’s is the earth and its fullness,
      the world, and those who dwell in it.
2     It is he who set it on the seas;
      on the rivers he made it firm.

3     Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord?
      Who shall stand in his holy place?
4     The clean of hands and pure of heart,
      whose soul is not set on vain things,
      who has not sworn deceitful words.

5     Blessings from the Lord shall he receive,
      and right reward from the God who saves him.
6     Such are the people who seek him,
      who seek the face of the God of Jacob.

* * *

7     O gates, lift high your heads;
      grow higher, ancient doors.
      Let him enter, the king of glory!

8     Who is this king of glory?
      The Lord, the mighty, the valiant;
      the Lord, the valiant in war.

9     O gates, lift high your heads;
      grow higher, ancient doors.
      Let him enter, the king of glory!

10        Who is this king of glory?
He, the Lord of hosts,
he is the king of glory.

Translation of Psalms: From The Revised Grail Psalms: A Liturgical Psalter. (c) 2010.
Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris
Photo (c) 2018, Allen Morris. Tintoretto, Hotel D’Assezat, Toulouse, France.

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