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 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.
Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”
And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
When they had finished everything required by 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.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Today’s feast of the Presentation of the Lord marks 40 days since Christmas and goes back to very early days of Christianity. First celebrated in the Eastern Churches as The Encounter, and later in the Western Church as Candlemas, we are reminded today of epiphanies, of the many ways Christ is revealed as the light of salvation for all.
How have I encountered Jesus in the past six weeks? In the ripe smell of the many homeless taking refuge from the cold on the El; in an NPR audio-diary entry of a physician sharing his experiences with Ebola patients in Sierra Leone; worshiping with a diverse community gathered for Sunday Eucharist…?
And how has Jesus encountered me? Lending a listening ear to a friend; clearing the snow from a neighbor’s car; sending a condolence card to someone we know who just lost a loved one…?
Time flies, as the saying goes, whether you are having fun or not; yet every moment holds the possibility of an encounter with Jesus. There are six more weeks of winter for us in the northern hemisphere, whether the groundhog sees his shadow today or not. Six more weeks until the hours and minutes of daylight outnumber the dark. How can we continue to be attentive to encounters with Christ?
Christ be our light, shine in our hearts, shine through the darkness.
Christ be our light, shine in your Church, gathered today.
—Bernadette Farrell, in Christ, Be Our Light, © OCP Publications, Inc., 1993.Please share the Good Word with your friends!