Luke 2: 22–40
The time came for Mary and Joseph to do what the Law of Moses says a mother is supposed to do after her baby is born.
They took Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem and presented him to the Lord, just as the Law of the Lord says, “Each first-born baby boy belongs to the Lord.” The Law of the Lord also says that parents have to offer a sacrifice, giving at least a pair of doves or two young pigeons. So that is what Mary and Joseph did.
At this time a man named Simeon was living in Jerusalem. Simeon was a good man. He loved God and was waiting for God to save the people of Israel. God’s Spirit came to him and told him that he would not die until he had seen Christ the Lord.
When Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple to do what the Law of Moses says should be done for a new baby, the Spirit told Simeon to go into the temple.
Simeon took the baby Jesus in his arms and praised God,“Lord, I am your servant, and now I can die in peace, because you have kept your promise to me. With my own eyes I have seen what you
have done to save your people, and foreign nations will also see this. Your mighty power is a light for all nations, and it will bring honour to your people Israel.”
In this year of Matthew’s Gospel, the most Jewish of gospels, how strange to hear Luke telling us of the Presentation at the Temple. Why doesn’t Matthew tell the story himself? Because there would be no need. Every Jew knew what happens with the birth of a boy. This ritual that Luke describes in elaborate detail happens every single day at the Temple. What seems to us like a clear recognition of Jesus’ importance is really just a confirmation of how very ordinary Jesus and his family really are.
Even the witness of Simeon and Anna, now preserved throughout history, would not have been all that important. After all, what value are the prophetic yearnings of an old man and woman? How often do you hear our elders wishing gifts and talents on the young? How often do you image a woman realises that her new born child will, one day, break her heart?
The Presentation that seems so unique and wonderful is a confirmation that Jesus is actually one of us. A child receiving God’s blessing; the hopes of the elders and the care-ful love of his family.