The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
1) Mal 3:1-4
2) Heb 2:14-18
Gospel: Lk 2:22-40 or Lk 2:22-32
In a few months, God willing, my wife Louise and I will go to St. Joe’s Hospital, here in town, take the elevator to the maternity ward, put on temporary ID stickers, and head for the room where our daughter Margherita will be sitting up in bed, surrounded by son-in-law Freddy, other children, and who knows who else.
As everyone who has ever done this knows, amid the hubbub, after questions about how mother and baby are doing and how labor and delivery went, the big moment comes. “Can I hold the baby?” An almost weightless bundle is placed in your arms, and an amazingly small but complete face presents itself for examination.
It never fails to be one of the most far-out experiences of life. Where did you come from, little one? Who are you? Who will you be? What will you look like when your head gets unmolded from your high-pressure journey down the birth canal?
I can’t help thinking of this when I read today’s Gospel — although the Gospel involves not a newborn and a grandfather but a baby 6 weeks old and a stranger.
The baby, Jesus, was brought by Mary and Joseph into the Temple in Jerusalem. As they walked across the spacious courtyard, Simeon, nudged by the Holy Spirit, approached them and introduced himself.
After a little conversation, we may suppose, he asked Mary, “Can I hold the baby?” She handed Jesus to him and, the Gospel writer tells us, “he took him into his arms.”
Again Simeon was guided by the Spirit: He had something to say about Jesus. He knew who he was — the Messiah. Looking into his eyes, though, he must have felt how little he really knew this child.
And so Simeon became one of the first of the men and women to come face to face with Jesus. There would be a man looking to be cured of leprosy, some fishermen who dropped everything to follow him, a few women who gave him financial support and others who welcomed him into their homes, finally a man hanging next to him on a cross.
They asked him for things they wanted from him, but more than that, they looked into his face and wondered, “Who are you? And what do you want from me?”
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Perrotta is the editor and an author of the “Six Weeks With the Bible” series, teaches part time at Siena Heights University and leads Holy Land pilgrimages. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.