When the day came for the purification according to the law of Moses, they brought the baby up to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord, as it is written in the law of the Lord: Every first born male shall be consecrated to God. And they offered a sacrifice, as ordered in the law of the Lord: a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.
There lived in Jerusalem, at this time, a very upright and devout man named Simeon; the Holy Spirit was in him. He looked forward to the time when the Lord would comfort Israel; and he had been assured, by the Holy Spirit, that he would not die before seeing the Messiah of the Lord. So, he was led into the temple by the Holy Spirit at the time the parents brought the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law.
Simeon took the child in his arms, and blessed God, saying,
“Now, O Lord, you can dismiss
your servant in peace,
for you have fulfilled your word
and my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you display for all the people to see.
Here is the light you will reveal to the nations,
and the glory of your people Israel.”
His father and mother wondered at what was said about the child. Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary, his mother, “Know this: your son is a sign; a sign established for the falling and rising of many in Israel, a sign of contradiction; and a sword will pierce your own soul, so that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.”
There was also a prophetess named Anna, daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. After leaving her father’s home, she had been seven years with her husband; and since then, she had been continually about the temple, serving God, as a widow, night and day, in fasting and prayer. She was now eighty-four. Coming up at that time, she gave praise to God, and spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.
When the parents had fulfilled all that was required by the law of the Lord, they returned to their town, Nazareth in Galilee. There, the child grew in stature and strength, and was filled with wisdom: the grace of God was upon him.
Reading: Joseph and Mary did the prescribed ritual of offering the firstborn male in the Temple during the purification rite. There they met two extraordinary persons, Simeon and Anna. The prophecies these two holy people spoke regarding the child baffled the couple. After the religious prescription had been fulfilled the Holy Family returned to Nazareth where the child grew in obscurity.
Reflection: Wonder happens even in the most ordinary setting. Simeon and Anna encountered the greatest wonder of their life when in the Temple they chanced upon a poor and simple couple from the backwater town of Nazareth. Their simplicity belies the treasure beyond price that they carry, the baby who will be the light and glory of Israel. Yet these two personages are not themselves ordinary as they appear. They may be bereft of signs of power and wealth but their spirit is great. They were able to see beyond the plain appearances of the Holy Family. They saw Him of whom others had waited for a long time to recognize. Thus they deserve the joy and happiness that they felt that day. They were ready when the rest of humanity was not.
Response: When was the last time I visited a temple, a sacred place or a pilgrimage site other than the church that I usually go for masses and personal prayer? Today might be a good day for planning a visitation to that holy place I dreamed of visiting and set the date to do so.
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