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
A couple of decades ago, I had a dream I’ll never forget. Jesus as a young man was standing in front of me. He looked right into my eyes and smiled. In the dream, I was thrilled. “Oh, I’ve waited my whole life to see you!” I told him.
The dream ended and I woke up not knowing what to make of the dream. Yet, the memory and joy have stayed with me, and I know that God is never distant, even in our sleep. The dream also gave me insight into today’s gospel figures.
Both Simeon and Anna had spent their entire lives waiting. Both sought salvation for Israel, the community they loved. Both knew in an instant when the one so long awaited was present. Simeon’s life purpose, and God’s promise, were fulfilled. Seeing the child was enough for him. “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace. My own eyes have seen . . .”
Simeon also anticipated the mission of Mary and those of us who would follow after her. Mary, he said, would be pierced with a sword “so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” She (and we) would stand with the suffering. Our own experience of pain would allow us to listen with compassion, to hear others into speech.
Are there moments when you, like Simeon and Anna, have caught a glimpse of what you long for?
—Mary Anne Reese is a lawyer, poet, and member of Bellarmine Chapel, a Jesuit parish in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Lord, now you let your servant go in peace. Your word has been fulfilled. My own eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people. A light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel. Amen.Please share the Good Word with your friends!