(Adults, when reading this to the child, omit verses 34 and 35, the verses in red parentheses. Also, you may want to use this reflection instead, written for the Feast of the Presentation in the Temple, Feb. 2nd, 2020.)
For so long we prepared for the feast of Christmas, for the feast of Jesus the Light coming into the world. Finally, we celebrate! The feast is here! Jesus is born. Always we think about who Jesus is--just who is this person that God gives to the world? We can also wonder about how people get to find out about this great gift of God. In the Gospel for this Sunday, we hear about two people who get to see Jesus. They do not have angels to tell them that Jesus is born, and they do not follow a star to his house. How do they find Jesus?
Mary and Joseph brought the child Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord
Mary and Joseph take their baby to the Temple, the most holy place in the most holy city of Jerusalem. The people know that God is there in the Temple. When Jesus is older, he calls this place his "Father's house." I wonder if arriving at the Temple feels like coming home to God.
What happens while they are there?
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.
Last week we heard about the Holy Spirit coming down over Mary to bring Jesus' life within her. Now we hear that the Holy Spirit rests on this man, Simeon. What is the Holy Spirit doing for Simeon?
It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.
Aha! The Holy Spirit has shown something to Simeon. Simeon will get to see the Lord's Messiah. Who could that be? And how will Simeon know who it is?
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.”
Simeon knows something about Jesus. Jesus looks like an ordinary baby, but Simeon calls him salvation and light. What does this mean?
We know a lot about light. Light helps us to see. Light is beautiful and warm. Light keeps out the darkness.
I wonder, can Jesus keep out the darkness?
Is Jesus beautiful and warm?
I wonder who Jesus can help us see...
Salvation is a big word. It means everything for a full life with God.
I wonder how Jesus is everything for a full life with God...
Jesus is salvation and light. These seem very important. How can Simeon know this about him? He has never seen this baby before. How does Simeon know? Who shows him?
We know the Holy Spirit rests on Simeon. It must be the Holy Spirit who shows Simeon that Jesus is the one he has been waiting for. We can say that the Holy Spirit reveals Jesus.
Simeon is not the only one who comes to see Jesus.
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 worshipped 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.
Why does Anna come just at that moment? How does she know that Jesus is there?
I wonder if the Holy Spirit reveals Jesus to Anna, too. Like Simeon, Anna is so full of joy at this gift that she praises God--she says how good God is--and she tells everyone about Jesus.
Now we know something about the Holy Spirit: the Holy Spirit reveals Jesus. In this Gospel reading, the Holy Spirit is very busy revealing Jesus. We receive the Holy Spirit when we are baptized. So that makes me wonder, does the Holy Spirit reveal Jesus to us today?
I wonder how...I wonder where...