Christ’s presentation in the temple
Today, 40 days after the birth of Christ, Mary and Joseph take the young child to the temple as was required by the Law of Moses. They were to bring a young lamb as an offering but being poor they were unable and brought two turtle doves instead. However, they did offer a young lamb in the form of Christ, the lamb who takes away the sin of the world. The lamb slain for our salvation during the same time the Passover lambs were slain.
This Feast, 40 days after the birth of Christ, is a good reminder to us. Mary and Joseph brought their child to the temple offering Him to God. Since the Nativity of Christ, what have we offered to God? We prepare for so long for the birth of Christ with the Advent season but then the Nativity comes and goes and we go back to our daily lives. We need to keep that joy and love that we have on Christmas throughout the year and this day is reminder of just that. What talents, treasurers, and time have we offered to God and what are we able to offer to God? Everything is His and we are only stewards of what we are blessed with.
In the temple, a righteous man named Simeon, who was told he would not depart until he would behold the Messiah, waited for the Savior. Being inspired by the Holy Spirit, he went to the temple at the very moment Mary and Joseph took Christ. He received in his arms the divine child and instantly he recognized the child as the Messiah promised and praised God with the words, “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people, a light to enlighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32). Along with Simeon, there was a prophetess named Anna, who was 84 years old and never left the temple but prayed and fasted daily waiting for the Messiah. She too recognized the child as the Savior of the world.
The righteous Simeon and the prophetess Anna were able to see who this child was. They were able to recognize Him as the Messiah, a little child as the Savior of the world. This spiritual insight was not gained over night but is only the result of devout spiritual asceticism. Anna stayed to pray and fast every day. Asceticism is essential for the Christian as Christ Himself commanded His disciples to live a life of prayer and fasting.
Would we be able to recognize the child as the Messiah? We cannot really answer that question now; we can ask, can we see Christ in every person we meet? All people are made in the image of Christ. It is what makes people unique to every other creature God has fashioned. Do we recognize this when we interact with people on a daily basis? Whether we are at work, at the store, or see the homeless on the street, do we see them as being made in that divine image? Do we treat them with the love and care that we would if we were speaking with Christ Himself?
To see everyone as beautiful and having that divine image imprinted in them is not an easy task. When we have difficulties with people, think cruelly or negatively of them, treat them unfairly, and don’t show unconditional love for every single person we are not seeing them as that image they are made in. How we interact with people is a direct correlation with who we think they are. It is a life-long process of spiritual practice and being open to the grace of God that opens our eyes to see this.
Faith was the only way anyone was able to recognize Christ as the Savior. Throughout the Gospels it was those with faith that saw Him as He was and who He was. We must also have faith and a devout spiritual life to recognize Him as our Savior and to be able to see each person made in the image of Christ, Who is due all glory, honor and worship, together with His un-originated Father, and His most holy, good and life-giving Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages, Amen.
(“From the Pulpit” is a weekly sermon provided by the clergy members of The Weirton Ministerial Association)