When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.
Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”
And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day.
At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. When they had finished everything required by 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.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations
In the last decade of my grandmother’s life, our conversations always began the same way. I’d say, “Hi, Grandma, how you doing?” And she, sitting in her chair, big dog at her feet and TV blaring, would roll her eyes and say, “Well, I’m still here.”
It’s so difficult to wait. Anna and Simeon in the Gospel today make it look easy, but that’s only because we’re catching them on the big day when all that was promised to them was finally fulfilled. How many children did Simeon see brought into the temple, year after year; how many times did his hopes arise, only to then realize, not yet? How many years had Anna, like my widowed grandmother, lived alone with only prayer and the memory of her husband to comfort her?
At times we all know that burden of expectation, that sense of a life promised but not yet achieved, that ache for a God not fully here yet. The Feast of the Presentation, like the life of Jesus itself, reminds us that all evidence to the contrary, God has not forgotten about us. And in Anna and Simeon we find friends who can walk with us when the waiting feels long and all we have is, “I’m still here.”
—Fr. Jim McDermott, S.J, a Wisconsin province Jesuit, is an accomplished professional screenwriter who lives at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles CA.
“It is necessary to seek God to find him, and to find him in order to seek him again and forever….It is this restlessness for God that is apostolic, that prepares us to receive the gift of apostolic fruitfulness. Without restlessness we are sterile.”
—Pope Francis, homily on January 3, 2013 at the Church of the Gesu in Rome.Please share the Good Word with your friends!