Today The Church celebrates the feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the temple. In accordance with the law, Mary and Joseph presented their first born Son forty days after His birth. This feast also formally concludes the celebration of the Christmas season and beginning with the prophecy of Simeon (“Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”), we contemplate the suffering that will be involved in The Savior’s mission.
There are a few things which strike me about this scene. For one thing, Mary and Joseph demonstrate tremendous obedience to God’s law by presenting Jesus in the temple. If there was ever a case for an exception to the law, this would be it! However, they didn’t see it that way. They loved and understood the law and willingly obeyed it. This was an excellent demonstration of humility.
Another point to consider is the reaction of Simeon and Anna when they encounter the baby Jesus in the temple. Simeon “took him into his arms and blessed God” giving thanks for being able to see the Savior of the World with his own eyes. What a tremendous gift! Unfortunately, how many times do with extend our arms and receive the same Savior in Holy Communion without Simeon and Anna’s sense of awe and thanksgiving?
This feast provides an opportunity for reflection on our personal observance of God’s law and appreciation for the gift of Jesus becoming man. If we feel that we could do a better job with this, why not ask Mary, Joseph, Simeon and Anna for help? With their assistance we can learn to love God’s commandments more and truly appreciate the gift of Jesus in our lives!