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:
by Father Greg Friedman, OFM
Celebrating today’s feast is a little like finding a leftover Christmas present we forgot to open. This year it’s celebrated on a Sunday, so the usual “Ordinary Time” readings give way to the beautiful story of Mary and Joseph presenting the infant Jesus in the temple.
I don’t have time here to explore all the riches of this feast. For centuries the Church has celebrated this day as a hopeful bit of light in winter’s darkness—at least in the Northern Hemisphere! We traditionally bless candles on this day, thus giving the feast another name: “Candlemas.”
Luke--whose Gospel story we read today--was interested in connecting his Gentile Christian audience with the rich tradition which nurtured the Christian faith. He paints a beautiful portrait of two figures—Simeon and Anna—who meet Jesus in the temple. They confirm to Mary and Joseph how their child fulfills ancient prophecies to Israel. He will be “a light of revelation to the Gentiles.”
Simeon’s words form a canticle used by the Church in its Night Prayer for the Liturgy of the Hours. You might want to make it your own, asking God to give you peaceful rest at day’s end. At least sometime during every day we’re gifted—like Simeon—with the revelation of God at work in our lives through Jesus Christ.
by Father Dan Kroger, OFM
• In the first reading (Malachi 3: 1-4), Malachi envisions the time when God will send a messenger to prepare the way of the Lord. His vision seems to foresee someone like John the Baptist. Can you see that possibility?
Malachi says that God’s messenger will purify the sons of Levi, the priestly class. How? (by fire, as gold and silver)
• Since the children suffer, the second reading (Hebrews 2: 14-18) says that it was fitting that Jesus would share in human suffering.
“He was tested through what he suffered.” Can you list some of the things Jesus suffered?
Have you ever been tested by suffering? Give some examples.
• As recounted in this week's Gospel, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the Temple to do what the Jewish Law required. What happened there?
Who was Simeon? What was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit? What did he say to the Lord after he held Jesus? What did he say to Mary about Jesus?
Who was Anna? What did she do after she saw the infant Jesus?
by Susan Hines-Brigger
• According to the Gospel, Mary and Joseph brought a sacrifice to the temple. Find ways that your family can make an offering for the blessings you have. For instance, collect and donate food to a local pantry or clothes to a local shelter.
• Simeon recognized the baby Jesus. Gather up baby pictures of your family members and friends. Try to identify who is in each picture.