Life Of Christ:
The Blessed Virgin Mary
Birth Of Jesus
Three Wise Men From The East Adore The Infant Saviour
Presentation Of Jesus In The Temple
Flight Into Egypt
Jesus, At Twelve Years, Visits The Temple
Baptism Of Jesus
Jesus Calls The Twelve Apostles
Parables Of Jesus
Miracles Of Jesus
Read More Articles About: Life Of Christ
Presentation Of Jesus In The Temple
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
THE PURIFICATION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN.
AFTER the birth of a son, Jewish mothers had to pass forty days in seclusion to await the day of their purification, and of their child's presentation in the Temple. The law required every mother to offer, on this occasion, a lamb one year old, or, if she were poor, a pair of turtle-doves or young pigeons.
"And after the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they carried Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord, and to offer a sacrifice according as it is written in the law of the Lord: a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons." (Luke ii. 22-24.) The holy mother of God prepared to set out with her spouse, St. Joseph, on her journey to Jerusalem. They made one last visit to the stable to take leave of the walls that had first given shelter to the Saviour. At daybreak the holy pilgrims were already on the road. Mary, with her child on her bosom, was seated on an ass led by St. Joseph, who walked at the side, occupied in silent prayer, meditation, and thoughts of gratitude to God. Slowly they descended the hill on which Bethlehem stand. Tears started from their eyes as they reu membered the great mercy bestowed by Heaven on the city of David, and the few who recognized it. But what man in his blindness refused, the senseless creatures endeavored to make good. For, as it had happened when the pilgrims were coming from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the beast stopped under an old terebinth tree, and the tree bowed, and dipped its largest branches over the head of the Infant and its mother, as if paying homage to its Creator. Then they resumed their journey, and soon were in Jerusalem.
Quietly and unnoticed the Holy Family passed through the streets on their way to the Temple, where they were met by the venerable priest Simeon. "And behold there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Ghost was in Him." (Luke ii. 25.) It had been revealed to this servant of God that he would not see death till he had first seen the promised Messias. Impelled by holy yearnings, this devout old man had come early this morning to the Temple, and on meeting the Holy Family near the door, he knew, by an inspiration of the Holy Ghost, that this child was the Child of Promise.
The Blessed Virgin was then conducted to that part of the Temple where the ceremony of purification usually took place. When it was over, the venerable Simeon conducted the holy mother and her Child to the altar, where the presentation and ransoming of her first-born was performed. Every requirement of the law being complied with, the holy old man, unable to restrain his feelings, takes the divine Infant in his arms, and gives thanks to God in inspired words : " Now then dost Thou dismiss Thy servant, O Lord, according to Thy word, in peace : because my eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples. A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel." (Luke ii. 29-32.) Then, turning to Mary and Joseph, the old man says a few parting words, with prophetic insight of the future of both the Child and His mother. "And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother: Behold, this Child is set for the fall and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted. And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that out of many hearts thoughts may be revealed." (Luke ii. 34, 35.) The meaning of which is: Your Child is destined for the fall of many in Israel, for many will reject Him; but also for the rising of many, who will believe in Him and live. He is sent for a sign which will be spoken against and meet with reproach and contradiction, which will reveal the thoughts of many hearts respecting Him: a truth which sadly culminated on Calvary. That Mary's own heart was pierced with the sword of sorrow, her whole life proves.
At the same time, "there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser; she was far advanced in years, and had lived with her husband seven years from her virginity. And she was a widow until fourscore and four years: who departed not from the Temple by fasting and prayers, serving night and day. Now she at the same hour coming in, confessed to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all that looked for the redemption of Israel." (Luke ii. 36-38.) What happiness for this venerable widow to be deemed worthy, as the first of all the women of Jerusalem, to look upon the Messias, and to proclaim Him as the long-desired of nations.
As Mary and Joseph listened to the remarkable words of Simeon and Anna, they wondered that it had so soon pleased God to make known the divine mission of their Child. All four together praised the mercy of God, and then the holy parents, bidding farewell to Simeon and Anna, returned with their infant to their own home at Nazareth. " And after they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their city Nazareth." (Luke ii. 39.)
In the presentation of Jesus, and the purification of Mary, behold the humility of both. The Son of God could not be bound by a law of which He Himself was the author; the mother of God, who had conceived and brought forth her divine Child in so extraordinary a manner, might certainly have claimed exemption from the usages established for the rest of her sex. Still both of them submit and readily conform to the precepts of the law. O wonderful example! How loudly it condemns the want of submission of those who pay so little deference to the precepts of the Church, the sole design of which is to promote their salvation !
The presentation of Jesus and the purification of Mary are observed as a feast by the Church on the ad of February. It is called the feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and is also known by the name of Candlemas Day, from the candles blessed before Mass, to remind us of Him whom Simeon was inspired to call the " Light to the revelation of the Gentiles." This feast was instituted by Pope Gelasius, A.D. 542.
O Jesus, Thou light of the world, who wast pleased on this day to be offered in the Temple, impart to me a portion of the disposition of these four holy persons who were witnesses of Thy presentation in the Temple. Give me the humility of Mary, the simplicity of Joseph, the fervor of Simeon, the self-denial of Anna, so that, like them, I may walk in the brightness of Thy glorious light, and at last be admitted into the heavenly Jerusalem, the imperishable temple of Thy eternal glory.