2 February 2021Luke 2:22-32
'...for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.' (vs 31-32)
Today is Candlemas, a Christian holy day celebrating the presentation of Jesus at the Temple. Candlemas is so called because on this day all the Church's candles for the year were blessed.
The Bible passage today weaves together themes of the Law (Jewish tradition) and the work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is placed firmly in the context of faithful Jewish parents and Jewish tradition. Yet through the Spirit, the extraordinary prophecy of Simeon points to the universal reach of God’s salvation, which works in Jesus to go beyond the Jewish people.
It was 40 days after the circumcision of Jesus. Jewish custom was for the child to be presented at the Temple and an offering made for the purification of the mother following childbirth. Impurity did not mean sin. Purity rites marked matters of life and death, acknowledging the holiness of God. To regain the status of purity needed to enter the Temple certain bathing rituals were required and an offering or sacrifice. Mary and Joseph sacrifice two pigeons or turtledoves. They were the offerings of the poor despite the divine, royal status of their child. Simeon is a devout, elder Jew, living in Jerusalem, exemplary in the way he read and reflected upon Scripture. He was faithful in his expectation that God would fulfil his promises in Scripture (Isaiah 40) bringing hope to the people of Israel and that he would live to see this moment. Luke tells us the Spirit prompted him to come to the Temple the day baby Jesus was presented. and through the Spirit Simeon recognises who Jesus is. Taking him in his arms he prophecies that he will not only bring salvation to Israel, but a salvation prepared in the presence of all peoples, stretching out to include the gentiles. Mary and Joseph are filled with wonder. But the wondrous news presents us with a king, not glorious by human terms, and with a cost that will bring deep pain to Mary. God’s ways are not our ways and God’s idea of glory is different from ours.
- Can you tell the story of an occasion when you felt the promptings of the Holy Spirit? A sense that this was your special mission? How did you know that it came from God?
- Are wonder and awe a daily part of your experience? Why do you think this is?
- What is on your bucket list before you 'pass through the veil' to meet God?