Encounter in the Temple

Luke 2:22-40
Mal 3: 1-4 / Psa 24 / Heb 2:14-18

Lord, as you have promised, you can now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people…
(Luke 2:29-30)

Like Simeon and Anna, may we see
That Jesus Christ is life’s true goal;
Lord, please be present constantly
In the sanctuary of my soul.

When the time of their purification had been completed, Joseph and Mary took the baby Jesus to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, according to the law (“Every first-born male is to be consecrated to the Lord.”) There was a man there called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple. When the parents brought in the child Jesus, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Lord, as you have promised, you can now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary : “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was 84 years old. A widow after 7 years of marriage, she never left the temple since, but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. After this, Joseph and Mary returned to Galilee to their town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him. (Luke 2:22-40)

Reflection

The prophecy of Malachi (the first Reading) was finally fulfilled that day when Simeon and Anna entered the temple: “…suddenly the Lord for whom you long (for) will enter the sanctuary. The envoy of the covenant which you so greatly desire already comes, says Yahweh of hosts.” (Mal.3:1) There is an old adage that says, “Anything worth having is worth waiting for.” The temple encounter with the Holy Family, which is narrated only in the Gospel of Luke, tells about the long wait of these two old prophets of God, Simeon and Anna, whose whole lives, it seems, were lived solely for this divine appointment with the Messiah in the temple. They exemplify for us the need not only to be prayerful, but also to be patient in waiting for God’s promise to be fulfilled. For their steadfast devotion, the Holy Spirit empowered them to see and immediately recognize God’s promised Savior — despite their failing eyesight and the throng of people in the temple area.

Who can “see” and recognize Jesus when He presents Himself into our lives? Today’s Responsorial Psalm says it clearly: “The clean of hand and pure of heart, who are not devoted to idols, who have not sworn falsely. They will receive blessings from the Lord, and justice from their saving God. Such are the people that love the Lord, that seek the face of the God of Jacob” (Psalm 24:4-6). Simeon and Anna are Luke’s first models of discipleship. For decades they frequented the place where they could commune with God. They put themselves continually in the presence of Yahweh, where they could “hear” His voice. How often do we present ourselves to our heavenly Father in His holy temple? How many hours in a week do we pay a visit to the Blessed Sacrament and keep Jesus company? Simeon and Anna were also able to recognize God because they were prayerful. As a priest, Simeon’s prayers were filled with hope and confidence in the promise of God. Anna not only prayed, but even in her advanced years she fasted regularly. Finally, these two people must have spent a lot of time meditating on the Word of God. They steeped themselves in Scriptures because they believed that this would lead them to His presence. Let us imitate these two holy persons and let God’s Word be a daily presence in our life.

Lord, let me be like Anna, who, upon recognizing her Savior, immediately gave witness to all about Your Good News of salvation. Let me also be like Simeon, who took Jesus in his arms. May I put down everything I am holding on to, because He is the only One worth holding on to for my soul’s salvation. Amen.

Comments are closed.