December 29: The Child in the Temple

Presentation in the Temple: Rembrandt

Jesus brings life to all, so even at his birth all are there. In today’s reading (Luke 2) Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to the temple where he meets Simeon and Anna, two elderly Jews. In the temple where God dwells, they offer him to his Father.

Luke’s account doesn’t dwell on the ritual – he may not know much about it. He doesn’t write about what the priest does, or even describe much of what Mary and Joseph do. God is at the heart of his story, revealing himself through the Infant to two elderly Jews, Simeon and Anna, who wait patiently for the Messiah.

They’ve waited for years. Rembrandt with his usual keen insight pictures them waiting in the dark, along with a great crowd of others in the temple. But the long waiting and the darkness has not dulled their eyes. Waiting in the temple has made them sharper, for they see salvation in this little infant, ” a light of revelation to the gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” 

In Luke’s gospel, the destiny of Jesus is revealed in the temple. He begins his journey to the Father there at his birth, and he already draws  those who will accompany him on his journey, beginning with Simeon and Anna, and extending even to the gentile world who will receive his light.

Simeon’s prophecy offers a somber note as he turns to Mary. “Your own soul a sword shall pierce.” The glory of the Lord proclaimed by the angels at Jesus’ birth is not without the experience of sorrow. Mary will join Rachel and the other women who mourned for their innocent children.

We’re living in an aging society; our elderly population is increasing. The temptation is to see old age as a stage in life when all is over, but this gospel story makes us reconsider, doesn’t it? The Lord comes at every moment of life. He draws us to himself our whole life long.

Simeon and Anna not only wonder at the child they see and hold in their arms, but they speak about him to those “waiting for the redemption of Israel.” “ Old men (and women) ought to be explorers.” And apostles too.

2 thoughts on “December 29: The Child in the Temple

  1. Harry Warren

    Thank you, Fr Victor, for reminding me of the value of my old age. It is true, I feel I am still growing, not only literally. Perhaps I have more time to reflect on all I have experienced with Gods many interventions. Perhaps I am just feeling nearer to our eventual meeting. God Bless you. Harry


  2. cenaclemary12

    “They also serve who only stand and wait.” This line has the ring of the proverb about it, but rather than being some anonymous piece of hand-me down wisdom, the quotation has a very definite and clearly discoverable origin. These are the closing words of a sonnet by the seventeenth-century poet John Milton.
    He wrote the poem in 1652 a year after he began to go blind.


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