Today is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple. As we hear in today’s Gospel Mary and Joseph bring the baby Jesus up to the Temple in Jerusalem “to present him to the Lord.” Jesus is welcomed by Simeon and Anna into the people of God. In a similar way parents bring their child to the church for baptism. The rite of baptism begins with a welcoming of the child into the new people of God with these words, “The Christian community welcomes you with great joy. In its name I claim you for Christ our Savior by the sign of his cross.”
When Jesus is presented in the Temple two “righteous and devout” Jews, Simeon and Anna, reveal the destiny of the child Jesus. Simeon gives thanks to God “for my eyes have seen your salvation.” Jesus will offer salvation to all peoples both Gentiles and Jews, “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” In a similar way the prophetess Anna gave thanks to God and spoke about Jesus as the source of redemption.
Jesus offers to each of us the gift of salvation. What is this salvation that Jesus offers? It is a light to guide our ways leading us out of the darkness of sin and doubt; bringing us into the way of God’s will. Salvation is glory. Glory is the felt or visible presence of God. In Jesus we can “feel” and “see” the one true God, the God of love and compassion. Salvation is redemption. Redemption is freedom from slavery. Our spiritual forebears the Jews became the people of God through the experience of redemption, freedom from slavery in Egypt. The people of God now include not only Jews but all of us who put our faith in Jesus Christ who frees and redeems us from the slavery of Sin.
Today as Jesus is presented to us let us join Anna and Simeon in giving thanks to God for sending Jesus into the world and into our lives.
Image: “Lorenzetti, Presentation at the Temple” by profzucker is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.