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January 31, 1997     The Message
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January 31, 1997

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana "Commentary -- presented in the temple: Themes of expectation and fulfillment GOSpel commentary for born of the Israelites, both human was ever a Nazirite• They drank no wine, but Jesus 1997: The Presenta- Year B: Luke story of Jesus&apos; presenta- temple is composed by incorporate themes of joy, e, expectation, fulfill- and obedience fMoses). are the various is after the child. The law for purifi- mother is found in By FATHER DON DILGER COLUMNIST II IIII 12:2-8• It is to take place after the birth of a male child and eighty child. An offering of a lamb and turtledove is prescribed "to make her and she shall be clean from the blood." Allowance is made for the poor. second pigeon or turtledove instead refers to this custom in 2:22 and he speaks of "their" purification, it is of Moses but his own creation• no purification ritual for anyone but the the redemption of the firstborn 13:1-2. When the child was a month t be redeemed from the Lord for five basis for this buying back from the son is given in Exodus 13:14-15. On Lord delivered his people from gYpt he killed all the firstborn of the oth human and animal, but the first- and animal, he spared. Therefore they belong to the Lord and are set aside for his use. The animals were used for sacrifice but human first- born were to be bought back from the Lord. In their place the Lord chose the men of the tribe of Levi to serve him. Luke does not refer explicitly to this ancient Torah-law, the redemp- tion of the firstborn. Instead he introduces his readers to a story of Jesus' presentation in the temple, a story which seems to be his own cre- ation. Children were not presented in the temple• As he does throughout his first two chapters, Luke here also uses Old Testament stories to create stories about Jesus, stories that are intend- ed to teach religious truths• In the story of the pre- sentation Luke is dependent upon the story of the presentation of the child Samuel, later a prophet, by his mother at the shrine of the Ark in Shiloh• The story is found in I Samuel 1. Luke had used this same story earlier as part of his formation of the story of the conception of John the Baptist. The child Samuel had been promised before his conception by his mother as a gift to the Lord, as a Nazirite. The Nazirites were similar to our religious orders. The constitution or law of the Nazirites is found in Numbers 6:1-21. In Luke's theology Jesus was consecrated in the womb through the Holy Spirit. It was appropriate therefore that this conse- cration be expressed externally just as was that of Samuel. There is no evidence, however, that Jesus apparently was not averse to lifting an occasional glass of the fruit of the vine. He himself is quoted as saying that people referred to him as "a glutton and a drunk" because he led a normal life, Luke 7:34. Luke sees Jesus' presentation in the temple as fulfilling Malachy 3:1-2, "The Lord will suddenly come to his temple," and a prophecy of Daniel 9:24 about a Holy One who was to come upon the scene at the end of 490 years. Most of all Luke emphasizes the obedience of Mary and Joseph to Jewish law. He mentions this four times. Why? It is part of his defense of Chris- tianity as a true form of Judaism• Jewish authori- ties persecuted Christianity just as centuries later Roman Catholic Christianity persecuted Protestant Christianity. By his demonstration of the total dedi- cation of Mar3' and Joseph to fulfilling the law of Moses Luke says: "We are true Jews. We have always been faithful to the Torah of Moses. You have no reason to fear us or persecute us." For good measure he adds the stories of Simeon and Anna, faithful Jews who bear witness to Jesus as a light for the Gentiles tLuke's defense of the legitimacy of accepting non-Jews into Christian Judaism), the glory of the Jewish people, and a restoation of glory for Jerusalem and its temple. Instead of trying to defend this story as biography or history let's understand it for what it was meant to be• It is a profound act of faith on the part of Luke that Jesus is everything for which the Jewish people and the world have been waiting. We are urged to join that act of faith. Readings: Malachy 3:1.4; Hebrews 2:14.18 'i de Funeral Home 119 S. Vine Street, ttaubstadt, IN 768-5210 Call about pro-need counseling. 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