Malachi is the last of the 12 minor prophets; he wrote about 445 B.C. His text is made up of six distinct oracles. Today we ponder his last oracle, as it speaks of the “final messenger.” On today’s feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (with its blessing of candles), we find the actual fulfillment of  Malachi’s prophecy as Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem. Jesus is in fact God’s messenger, thus fulfilling God’s promise as Mark records: “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way.” (Mark 1:2).

Imagine Mary and Joseph, intent on fulfilling the Law, entering the Temple with understandable fear as they bring their firstborn to God. They offer their simple gift of turtledoves, as prescribed. Then Simeon presents Jesus to God with the usual words of the Jewish ritual.

Only with the perspective of time do we comprehend the meaning and mystery of this simple gesture by these two young parents, these special friends of God. Perhaps a reminder to each of us that our own simple gestures of faith and daily living may well carry meaning far beyond what we hope and imagine. God’s own generosity will never be outdone!

—The Jesuit prayer team