Presentation of the Lord

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.”

The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him;
and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,
“Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be contradicted
Band you yourself a sword will pierce
so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
There was also a prophetess, Anna,
the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.
She was advanced in years,
having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage,
and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.
She never left the temple,
but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.
And coming forward at that very time,
she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child
to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.

When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions
of the law of the Lord,
they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.
The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom;
and the favor of God was upon him.
(Luke 2:22-40)

Scripture Study

2:22 purification: The birth of a male child disqualifies an Israelite woman from touching any holy object or approaching the Temple for 40 days, after which time she must offer sacrifice in Jerusalem (Lev 12:1–8). Strictly speaking, these offerings cleanse women of legal impurity and have no connection with moral failures or guilt. Mary here gives the sacrifice of the poor: two “turtledoves”, or two “pigeons” (2:24; Lev 12:8).

2:23 Every male … to the Lord: A paraphrase of Ex 13:2. It implies either that Jesus is consecrated as a priest or that he was purchased from the Levites by a redemption price of five shekels (Num 18:15–16). Either way, Mary and Joseph fulfill the Law faithfully (2:22, 24, 27) and completely (2:39).

2:25 consolation of Israel: i.e., the time when many believed that Yahweh would rescue his people from Gentile rule (Romans) and reestablish the glorious kingdom of David in Jerusalem (1:71; 2:38). These hopes were linked with the coming Messiah (Mk 11:10; Acts 1:6).

2:34 fall and rise: Simeon’s second oracle casts a shadow over the Child’s future. He is the Messiah who will draw a line in the sand of Israel, causing the nation to divide itself by taking a stand for or against him (20:17–18; 1 Pet 2:6–8). Those who reject him stand self-condemned, while those who embrace him will be blessed (6:20–23, 46–49).

2:35 a sword will pierce: An advance glimpse of Calvary, when the rejection of Jesus by sinners will bear heavily on his Mother. Attached to her vocation is a grim expectation of maternal suffering.

2:36 a prophetess: Like Miriam (Ex 15:20), Deborah (Judg 4:4), and Huldah (2 Kings 22:14) in the OT, Anna is a recognized interpreter of God’s will for Israel. Other NT prophetesses appear in Acts 21:9.

2:38 redemption of Jerusalem: Anna awaits God’s deliverance for Israel and the Holy City. Her expectations mirror that of Simeon.

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today’s Gospel tells the story of the presentation of Jesus in the Temple. The Temple was, in practically a literal sense, the dwelling place of the Lord. In the Temple, divinity and humanity embraced, and the human race was brought back online with God.

But the sins of the nation had, according to the prophet Ezekiel, caused the glory of the Lord to depart from the Temple. Therefore, one of the deepest aspirations of Israel’s people was to reestablish the Temple as the place of right praise so that the glory of the Lord might return. When Joseph and Mary bring the infant Jesus into the Temple, therefore, we are meant to appreciate that the prophecy of Ezekiel is being fulfilled. The glory of Yahweh is returning to his favorite dwelling. And this is precisely what Simeon sees.

The old seer is a symbol of ancient Israel, watching and waiting for the coming of the Messiah. Simeon knew all of the old prophecies; he embodied the expectation of the nation; and the Holy Spirit had given him the revelation that he would not die until he had laid eyes on his Savior.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

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