‘My eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared’
Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (Year A)
In this reading about the presentation of Jesus in the Temple, His future path is foreseen by Simeon and Anna and His mother’s pain is also foretold. Fr Adrian Graffy reflects.
22 When the day came for them to be purified as laid down by the law of Moses, the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord – 23 observing what stands written in the law of the Lord: Every first-born male mustbe consecrated to the Lord – 24 and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is said in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtledovesor two young pigeons. 25 Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to Israel’s comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the Christ ofthe Lord. 27 Prompted by the Spirit he came to the Temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the law required, 28 he took him into his arms and blessed God; and he said: 29 ‘Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace, just as you promised; 30 because my eyes have seen the salvation 31 which you have prepared for all the nations to see, 32 a light to enlighten the pagans and the glory of your people Israel.’
33 As the child’s father and mother stood there wondering atthe things that were being said about him, 34 Simeon blessed them and said to Maryhis mother, ‘You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected –35 and a sword will pierce your own soul too –so that the secret thoughtsof many may be laid bare.’
36 There was a prophetess also,Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well on in years. Her days of girlhood over, she had been married for seven years 37 before becoming a widow. She was now eighty-four years old and never left the Temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayer. 38 She came by just at that moment and began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem. 39 When they had done everything the law of the Lord required, they went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 Meanwhile the child grew to maturity, and he was filled with wisdom; and God’s favour was with him.
Other readings: Malachi 3:1-4 Psalm 23(24) Hebrews 2:14-18
This lengthy gospel reading completes for us the mystery of Christmas. Jesus becomes ‘completely like his brothers’. He is brought to the Temple to begin a life of service. His future path is foreseen by Simeon and Anna. His mother’s pain is also foretold. He is subject to his parents in the secret life of Nazareth. But, as Simeon already proclaims, he is set to be a ‘sign of contradiction’, ‘a light for all the nations and the glory of his people Israel’.
How does this feast reconnect us with the Christmas mysteries?
What deeper significance does Jesus’ coming to the Temple contain?
Consider on this feastof Candlemas how light is a recurring theme in Bible and liturgy.
We pray for all fathers and mothers that theymay treasuretheir children as gifts of God.
Rev Dr Adrian Graffy is a member of the Vatican Commission that takes a lead in Bible scholarship, interpretation and promotion in the Catholic Church.
Rev Dr Graffy said of his five-year appointment by Pope Francis in 2014: “It is an honour to be nominated by Pope Francis as a member of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. I feel humbled and very much look forward to being of service to His Holiness and the Church.”
He added: “A great deal has been achieved in England and Wales in recent years by many co-workers to advance Biblical scholarship and the provision of easy-to-use resources. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them and the Bishops’ Conference Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis for their efforts to promote understanding and love of the Bible, particularly through the publication of the teaching documents, The Gift of Scripture and the study guide to Verbum Domini, The Word of the Lord.”
Rev Dr Graffy received his doctorate in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome in 1983. He taught for over 20 years in St John’s Seminary in Wonersh, and is Chair of the National Scripture Working Group, which is an instrument of the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Fr Graffy is a past director of Brentwood’s Commission for Evangelisation and Formation and parish priest of Christ the Eternal High Priest in Gidea Park, Essex. Among his publications are the Gospel of Mark and the Letter to the Romans (Alive Publishing).
Listen to BBC Essex interview with Fr Adrian Graffy