Scripture: Luke 2:22-40
(alternate reading: Mark 6:7-13)
22 And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord") 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons." 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. 27 And inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, 29 "Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation 31 which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel." 33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him; 34 and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed."
36 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher; she was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years from her virginity, 37 and as a widow till she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she gave thanks to God, and spoke of him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. 39 And when they had performed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.
Today the Holy Church celebrates the presentation of the Lord. What shall we imitate from this gospel for our daily life? I wish to propose to you all two different orientations. You can choose any one of them.
The first orientation is narrowly related to the Incarnation. Why God has chosen to follow the law that He Himself wished to purify. Every human law is to be purified into the divine law, the Law of love that Jesus has come to establish in the Kingdom of God, which begun by the very moment of Incarnation. For our daily application I propose these questions: are we tempted to discern everything according to what is right and good, or is it according to the will of the Father? What God wishes me to do now and what act will really pleases the Lord? Am I doing everything, as the Lord has commanded me to do?
The second orientation is the human cooperation in identifying the presence of God amidst us. Though many of then the time of Jesus longed for a royal entering of Christ, with fire and bright light, where the Saviour will purify the priestly tribe to make the offering pure, there were still two persons with exception whose expectations were fully inspired by the Holy Spirit. Though the entry of Jesus was not a secret, only these few could identify in this little CHILD, the God. For our personal application, I would like to invite you to see in the person of these people, how they could identify Jesus? What they might actually have done to understand the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. How did they interpret the message received? By asking these questions, God may help us to find the answers and by consequence that we may be able to identify, like them, the very presence of God in us, and in the society where we live.
«Now, O Lord, you can dismiss your servant in peace»
Fr. Lluís RAVENTÓS i Artés
Today, we see how Simeon, ignoring the winter's cold, is awaiting the arrival of the Messiah. Five hundred years before, when the Temple was starting to be built there was such poverty in the country that its builders were highly discouraged. It was the when Haggai, the prophet, said: «‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house’, says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace’, declares the Lord Almighty» (Hag 2:9); and added «I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory» (Hag 2:7). Words that admit different meanings; some will say «the dearest one», while saint Jeronim will say «the desired of all nations».
The Holy Spirit had assured Simeon «that he would not die before seeing the Messiah of the Lord» (Lk 2:26), and today, «led by the Holy Spirit» he has gone into the Temple. He is not a levite, nor a scribe, nor a doctor of the law, he is just «a very upright and devout man that looked forward to the time when the Lord would comfort Israel» (Lk 2:25). But the Holy Spirit blows where it wills (cf. Jn 3:8).
Now, he realizes with surprise that no preparation has been made, no flags, garlands, damasks or shields can be seen anywhere. Just Joseph and Mary, crossing the esplanade, and bringing de Child Jesus in their arms. «Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in» (Ps 24:), claims de psalmist.
Stretching his arms Simeon takes the Infant from his Mother and bless God while saying: «Now, O Lord, you can dismiss your servant in peace, for you have fulfilled your word and my eyes have seen your salvation, which you display for all the people to see. Here is the light you will reveal to the nations and the glory of your people Israel» (Lk 2:29-32).