Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple.
Bishop Banda's Homily on the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple
The feast of the presentation of the baby Jesus in the temple seems to be a self revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is precisely meant for the pious Jews who had gathered in the temple on that blessed day, namely: the blessed parents of Jesus (Mary and Joseph), the righteous Simeon, and the prophetess Anna. Thus, the act of presentation of the baby Jesus declares loudly and clears the humanity of the God-that-became-man, Immanuel.
Simeon here stands for those righteous members of Judaism who in their piety were looking forward to the coming of the Messiah. Those who, in their righteousness, long for the Messiah, who do not seek for wonders and miracles and signs from heaven to believe. They know Him when they see Him because they are led by the Holy Spirit.
On the contrary, the Scribes and the Pharisees in their self-righteousness will not recognize Him in spite of the signs and wonders in abundance. They will in fact ask for more signs, not to believe, but to test and to trap Him. Hence, Jesus would warn His listeners later on that unless their righteousness exceeded that of the Scribes and the Pharisees, they would not enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Mt 5:20).
Anna the prophetess represents those who find themselves in the right place at the right time to have a glance, a glimpse of the Saviour. Anna is rewarded with the comfort of beholding our Lord in her hands, for she has been in the temple serving Him in prayer and fasting for at least sixty-five years prior to the Lord’s visit to the temple. For Anna, the fairly long wait was insignificant compared to the joy of the fulfillment of her dream.
To the many others present in the temple at the time – who also laid their eyes on the baby Jesus, the baby Jesus was just another usual sight – another baby. They could not recognize Him. They lacked the gift of discernment which is a gift of deep prayer, fasting and self-denial.
However, the passionate expectation and the resultant recognition of the baby Jesus and its parents by both Simeon and Anna fulfilled their longing and were happy to move on in the Lord, “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation…” May our desire for the face of the Lord enable us to recognize Him and to serve Him eagerly.