Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Reflection for the 4th Week of Ordinary Time, Part 2

Thursday – God Presented to God

When Mary and Joseph presented the forty-day-old Jesus in the Temple according to the requirements of the Law, they were actually presenting God to God.

That sounds strange, doesn't it? But it's true. God had suddenly entered His Temple, just as the prophet Malachi predicted although Malachi would never have expected Him to come as a tiny Baby.

Simeon recognized Him, though. While he might not have completely realized the divinity of the Child, he certainly understood that this One was the long-awaited Messiah, the glory of Israel and the light of the whole world.

Anna, too, saw in that little Baby the redemption the people of Israel had been expecting for so long, and she proceeded to tell everyone who would listen that He had arrived at last.

Yes, God was presented to God in the Temple that day, the Son to His Father, the Messiah to the One Who sent Him to save the world.

Friday – The Girl

The girl did what she was told to do. First, she performed a dance for her father, Herod, and his guests. They were delighted, if more than a bit tipsy, and her father offered her grand gifts, even up to half his kingdom.

But the girl didn't know what to ask for. Perhaps she didn't really care. Perhaps she wanted to maximize her advantage but wasn't sure how to do that. Perhaps she didn't know how to think for herself. In any case, she went to her mother with the question “What shall I ask for?”

The girl's mother, Herodias, knew exactly what to ask for. Something, or rather someone, had been bothering her for quite some time. John the Baptist, who was a prisoner of Herod, was always going on about how Herod and Heriodias should never have been married, for Heriodias had once been the wife of Herod's brother. It was irritating, and Heriodias saw the perfect opportunity to end that annoyance. She told her daughter to ask for the head of John the Baptist.

The girl went back to her father and did just that, adding a little twist of her own. “I want you to give me at once on a platter the head of John the Baptist,” the girl commanded. At once? On a platter? Perhaps the girl had a malicious streak of her own.

Herod was stuck. He didn't like it, but he had no choice. His offer had backfired on him. He actually rather liked John and didn't want to kill him, but a promise was a promise. He sent off an executioner, and a little while later presented his daughter with the head of John the Baptist. The girl immediately handed it over to her satisfied mother.

We never hear about the girl again in Scripture, but other sources tell us that Salome (her actual name) was married twice and had several children. Like as not, her marriages were political in nature, and she probably had no choice in the matter. We may wonder if she turned out like her mother. We may wonder if somehow she was able to find happiness. We may wonder if she ever came to regret her request for John the Baptist's head.

Saturday – A Sacrifice of Praise

Lord, I offer You a sacrifice of praise. I raise my mind to contemplate the wonders of Your being. I step out of my cares and worries and focus my attention on You. I sing out how amazing You are, how awesome in the true sense of the word. I give You thanks for all You have done for me, are doing for me right now, and will do for me in the future. I recognize Your grace working and active in my life, and I embrace it. I let go of myself, even if just for a little while, and cling to You with my whole being. Lord, I offer You a sacrifice of praise. Amen.

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