Dear friends in Christ,
Tomorrow the church celebrates the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple, observed exactly 40 days after Christmas Day. This commemoration recalls the events recorded in Luke 2:22-40. Jesus’ parents took him to the Temple to present him to God, as the Law required for all firstborn sons.
In the Gospel account of the Presentation, we meet Simeon, a man who had been told by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until after he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Simeon was waiting. One day, he was in the Temple when he saw two parents bringing their infant son to be dedicated to the Lord. It might have looked like a perfectly ordinary event, but this time was different. You see, Simeon knew that the child Jesus was his Savior.
At that moment, he praised God with words that we now sing as the Nunc dimittis. In Rite Two language, Simeon’s praises are recorded like this:
“Lord, you now have set your servant free *
to go in peace as you have promised;
For these eyes of mine have seen the Savior, *
whom you have prepared for all the world to see:
A Light to enlighten the nations, *
and the glory of your people Israel.”
In an instant, Simeon recognizes the fulfillment of God’s word both in the tiny baby and in his meeting of his Lord. Simeon knows that this infant lives for the whole world; he has come to enlighten all nations.
I love this moment, because there is so much to see and to learn. Jesus is for everyone. God’s promises are faithful and true. But I especially give thanks to God that Simeon could recognize amidst the ordinary routine a most extraordinary encounter with Jesus Christ.
I pray that when I meet Jesus, whether in his people or in the sacraments, I will have the grace to praise God for meeting him. We all meet Jesus, whether in this life or the life to come. Let us join Simeon’s song to proclaim Jesus as the light that shines brightly with God’s grace and mercy for all nations.
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