IN CHRIST’S PRESENCE – Luke 2:22-40
Today we celebrate Candlemas which signifies the Presentation of Christ in the Temple.
Joseph and Mary bring the child Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem. According to Jewish law a woman became ceremonially unclean on the birth of a child. On the eighth day the child was circumcised, after which the mother was considered unclean an additional thirty-three days. At the conclusion of this period, the mother offered a sacrifice, either a lamb or, if she was poor, two doves or two young pigeons (Lev 12:6-8). This is what Mary offered in the temple. Joseph and Mary follow the laws of the Jewish society. The offering of birds instead of a lamb shows that the family was poor. Perhaps this helped Jesus to identify with the poor of the land during his ministry.
As the child Jesus was presented in the temple we encounter two people in the temple. Simeon and Hannah. They are both very elderly people who spend most of their time in prayer in the temple. Both elderly and both led by the Spirit of God.
Mary and Joseph had heard about the significance of Jesus first from the angels, then from the shepherds and later from the wise men. Now it is Simeon and Hannah who tell Mary and Joseph about the child in their care.
It appears that Simeon was waiting for this moment and says that Jesus is ‘a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.’ While there was the expectation for the Messiah from God, Simeon and Hannah seem to wait patiently in expectation. They waited in the presence of God in the temple and they also waited in prayer. And they had the eyes to see what other people could not see. They saw the Messiah.
As Joseph and Mary presented Jesus in the temple, Jesus presents himself in the Eucharist in a real way every time we come to the Lord’s table. Jesus presents himself as the light of the world that dispels all darkness. Jesus is the light that drives away all the darkness and this light illumines us. We receive this light as he presents himself to us.