February 2, 2020
Presentation of the Lord
Today, we celebrate the Presentation of the Lord. This celebration is forty days after Christmas. It is inserted into the liturgical calendar even though we have moved on from the Christmas season. This year, February 2, falls on Sunday and overrides a Sunday in Ordinary Time. However, there are spiritual gems to be found in this encounter with Jesus being presented in the temple.
Simeon and Anna are two of my favorite people in the gospels. They both possess a quiet fidelity of prayer and presence. They are both old and now have found their lives in the spotlight in the temple. They have lived their entire lives waiting for this moment. Their hearts are full, their lives are now complete, and their spirits are invigorated by the presence of Jesus, the Messiah. It has been worth the wait. Being in the presence of Jesus must have been overwhelming for them. Imagine the stirrings in the hearts of these two people who waited in prayer for such a sight and such miracle.
The purpose of their lives was to wait for this encounter with Jesus. They knew from their prayer that Jesus was the one who would set their hearts ablaze. His face would become the beacon of light for all people. In Jesus, they would find salvation, forgiveness and love. Their prophetic witness was rock solid, their posture of prayer was full of integrity. They gave their lives to prayer, to this searching, for they did not want to miss the vision they longed for. They waited patiently within the walls of the temple.
Imbedded in the gospel are the words of Simeon, the Nunc Dimittis, which have become a prayer the Church prays during Night Prayer. These words are filled with yearning, with prophecy and trust. Here is the text and translation from today’s gospel:
“Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory for your people Israel.”
This gospel text provides great hope for us. If we place ourselves in this gospel text, we can imagine what it would have been like to spend our lifetime in prayer waiting for the real presence of Jesus. We may ask ourselves today some questions:
What am I waiting for in life? What brings true hope for my soul? What do I wait for beyond fleeting or impulsive desires?
Am I really searching to discover God? Or am I waiting to simply protect myself? Or am I waiting to simply justify my own prejudice or worldview as I pray?
How can I search for God as a prophetic witness to justice, to love and hope for all people?
Can I become what I wait for, that is, how can I become the face of God to other people?
These two great prophets, Simeon and Anna, wait for their salvation and the salvation of the world in Christ Jesus. We do the same. The Real Presence of Jesus Christ is manifest to us every day in our house of prayer in the Eucharist. I pray we may all be attentive as we wait for our own salvation and the salvation of all who need God.