WelCom February 2020
Feast of the Presentation of the Lord – Luke 2: 22-32
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.’
Presentation in the Temple
A reflection on Luke 2:22-32
From the time Israel had been delivered from the Egyptians, the Jews had looked upon their firstborn as dedicated to God. Forty days after His birth, Jesus, as was the custom, was brought by His parents to the Temple in Jerusalem to present to the Lord. The traditional offerings for purification were a lamb and a turtledove if the parents were rich, and two doves and two pigeons if they were not. Mary, who brought the Lamb of God into the world had no lamb to offer except the Lamb of God. Jesus was presented with His parent’s two pigeons at forty days of age. Here Jesus was not only the first-born of Mary but also the only Son of the Eternal Father, and as such, was now presented as the First-Born of a restored humanity. A new race began in Him.
Jesus was received by Simeon, ‘a man righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him’ (Lk 2:25). This had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit. ‘That he should not see death until he had seen the Lord’s Christ (Lk 2:26)’.
Simeon taking the baby Jesus in his arms recites the canticle known as the Nunc Dimittis…’Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace, just as you promised; because my eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared for all the nations to see, a light to enlighten the pagans and the glory of your people Israel’ (Lk 2:29-32). What an act of adoration. Yet in the same canticle, Simeon was telling the world, people would either love Jesus, or hate Him.
Why is this gospel important for us in our daily lives? Why listen to an old man in the sunset of his life speaking of the sunrise of the new world? Simeon speaks of ‘Salvation’ as the promise of a new day, not from poverty or any physical or immaterial misfortune, but Salvation from sin. Simeon was looking forward, telling us that not only would this baby cause the rise and fall of many in Israel, He would also be rejected by many.
Where do we ourselves sit with all this 2000 years later? What does the idea of sin and salvation to each of us? Many of us live by the Kiwi philosophy of ‘she’ll be right’? Due to the advances of modern technology and improvements in society, sins of 2000 years ago are probably different from the ones we fall into today. How do we know what sin is today? Is it different for each of us? What kind of relationship with Our Lord do we need in order to understand what His requirements are for each of us? And if we fail Our Lord – as we are bound to? In that case, what would forgiveness and Salvation mean? Many of us take a broad view of our faith, which may allow us to escape a more direct and personal challenge from Our Lord. Today, let us have another think.