February 2, 2020: Feast of Presentation of the Lord
Reading: Luke 2:22-40
When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord, and to offer the sacrifice of a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons, in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”
The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted — and you yourself a sword will pierce — so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.
When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.
Mary and Joseph, by honoring their Jewish tradition, present Jesus to the Lord in the Temple. In ancient times, the Temple was the dwelling place of the Lord and God’s people came to the Temple to encounter God’s holy presence. We read that Simeon, “righteous and devout, (was) awaiting the consolation of Israel and the Holy Spirit was upon him”. This Spirit had “revealed to him that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord”. Anna was a “prophetess who never left the Temple (and) worshipped night and day with fasting and prayer.”
This man and this woman were ordinary people who loved God in extraordinary ways. Their daily lives, we see, were rooted in prayer and in hope. When Mary and Joseph bring their infant son and Simeon and Anna are in his presence, these faithful Jews see their hopes of a faithful God fulfilled as they meet a vulnerable baby. They know they are truly in God’s presence.
Simeon’s trust in God’s promise gifted him with the ability to see and touch the source of salvation. He proclaimed to Gentiles and Jews alike that the Light of the World and the fulfillment of God’s promise to the nation of Israel was now among them. Anna also recognized the long-awaited Christ of the Lord and offered thanksgiving to God and proclaimed that “the redemption of Jerusalem” was at hand. Jesus was presented to the Lord and Simeon and Anna, our elder brother and sister in Faith, presented Jesus to the world.
This coming week, as we pray, let us open our eyes and hearts to see, feel and proclaim the source of salvation among us. Let us trust that God is faithful and will reveal God’s self to us as we go to that sacred place within our hearts and experience the Divine. Let us trust that God will reveal the Divine Presence that dwells in all as we encounter other ordinary people who love God in extraordinary ways. This holy man and woman persisted in being open to God’s promises and serve as models for us. And, as they persevered in prayer, can we open our eyes, experience God’s holy presence and share this Good News with all whom we meet?