The Gospel according to 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.
Opening Prayer: Loving Lord, thank You for sending Jesus for me. Help me to be a light of love and hope in a world of darkness. Give me the grace to show Your love to all I meet, and to be Your servant in all that I do today. Amen.
Encountering Christ: Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. Amazingly enough, we have now come 40 days from the celebration of Jesus’ birth on Christmas. This is one of those occasions that has always amazed me since I became Catholic – how the annual calendar has built-in these reminders of little details that just keep us connected to the faith. For example, we read in Luke of how Elizabeth was “in her sixth month” of pregnancy with Jesus’ cousin John the Baptist when Mary visited her. We celebrate the birth of John the Baptist on June 25, and amazingly enough, we celebrate Jesus’ birthday six months later. Such amazing care with this annual reminder of the cycle of our faith!
I’d like to focus on the two “bystanders” in this Gospel reading today: Simeon & Anna. Each of them has something to share that we can learn which will help us in our journey as a follower of Jesus. First, there is Simeon, who we read has been waiting for the “fulfillment of God’s promise”, the arrival of the Savior, the “consolation of Israel”. We see further that he was given an amazing gift by God, namely, that he
would not die until he had seen that promise fulfilled, the “Christ of the Lord”. The lesson we can take from Simeon is that God has a plan for each of us. For Simeon, it was to patiently wait for the fulfillment of a promise. For you or for me, it may be to be that shining light of faith and hope, even when we are in a world of darkness. All we have to do is to ask God to show us how to be that light, and then (probably the hardest part) go and shine!
The second observer here is Anna, who is described as one whose whole life is about prayer and praise to God. Another point that is made is how she “spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem”. Just in those few phrases, we are told essentially what each of us need to do to live as a follower of Jesus: pray, and share the good news! From her age, we can also see that she was, like Simeon, one who was willing to be patient to see the good news she hoped for. Each of us is called to act in those same ways – to pray, and seek what God wishes for us to do to make His kingdom come; to speak about the good news, helping those around us to see that God has a plan and it is truly “good news” for us; and finally, to be patient, as the good that God promises will come in His time, not necessarily ours.
One final observation to leave with you – it may seem like it must have been a coincidence that Simeon and Anna just happened to be there at the time that Mary & Joseph brought Jesus to the temple. Nothing could be further from the truth! They were there, because it was where God wanted them to be and they were willing to be instruments of God at that moment. That’s another part of the action we are called to take as followers of Jesus – we are sent, and the places we are to visit are those that God has ordained. We don’t have to go, but our loving God asks us to go so that others may feel His love and mercy for them. Let us be open to going, praying, speaking, and waiting. That is how we can renew this Feast today, and every day of our lives.
Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to be like Simeon & Anna, and to be patient to wait for Your plan to be revealed, and to share Your joy with everyone. Let me be one who brings hope to the world. Amen.
Action for the Day: Take ten minutes today to pause and reflect on what God is calling me to do, and at some point during the day, perform an act of kindness to help bring Jesus’ light to my own community.