Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
In the world of Joseph and Mary, apart from adhering to the circumcising ceremony and undertaking the offering special thanks for a firstborn, parents also attended to certain purification rituals in the Temple itself.
However ancient tradition also stressed that a firstborn might be offered to the Lord for the service of the Lord, and thus today we witness Joseph and Mary presenting Jesus to God and ritualising this by their simple offering of a pair of turtle doves or pigeons.
But Luke shifts our attention swiftly away from the rituals and traditions and instead focuses us on two older and faithful people – Simeon and Anna. Both are deeply devoted to God and spend their days within the Temple precinct and in the service of God.
But perhaps Luke means for us to notice them more closely. Certainly, they point the way towards Jesus and the meaning of his life and mission to come. So in that sense, they are prophet-like in their stance. But are we meant to see more?
In highlighting them and their role is not Luke also showing us various dimensions of the Christian life that are as relevant to us today as throughout history?
I highlight three possible reflections we might take from this gospel today on this Feast of the Presentation.
Firstly, I wonder if Luke, through the characters of Anna and Simeon is indeed showing us the power of hope in a person’s life.
Secondly, is he not showing us that faithful longing and steadfast service will lead us eventually into the very presence of Jesus the Christ?
Thirdly, in that they are introduced to persons who spend their days in the Temple precinct perhaps they are meant to model for us faith in our advancing years. It can remain a steady and effective witness to others and is not a weakened force even if our physical capacity is reduced.
Perhaps in this way, we shall respond to the challenge of the prophet Malachy, who asks “But who will endure the day of his coming? And who can stand when he appears?”
Let us resolve to be among those who have endured and witnessed faithfully throughout a life well-lived. We do this so that others around us may see more clearly the Lord when he manifests himself to them at unexpected times. In that so often people reach out to Jesus in their pain and confusion, they will have our witness as a beacon casting light for them so that they may truly see the Lord when he comes to them.
Fr. Denis Travers, C.P., is a member of Holy Spirit Province, Australia.