“And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), and thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed’” (Luke 2:33-35).
Today marks the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord. It celebrates the holy convergence of Jesus the Messiah with His people who faithfully waited for His coming. Traditionally, the feast is celebrated with the greatest of joys and thanksgivings. Forty days after the solemnity of Christmas, Mary and Joseph consecrated Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem, showing their obedience to God and fulfilling the Mosaic Law. Simeon, a just and devout man, utters a prophecy that Jesus will be the light of the Gentiles and the glory of Israel. Anna thanks God for the child and talks about him to all who looked to God for the deliverance of Jerusalem. Amid their joy looms the shadow of the cross, the opposition Jesus will face and the sword of suffering Mary, too, will experience. (from www.divineoffice.org)
From a sermon by Saint Sophronius, bishop
Let us receive the light whose brilliance is eternal
In honor of the divine mystery that we celebrate today, let us all hasten to meet Christ. Everyone should be eager to join the procession and to carry a light.
Our lighted candles are a sign of the divine splendor of the one who comes to expel the dark shadows of evil and to make the whole universe radiant with the brilliance of his eternal light. Our candles also show how bright our souls should be when we go to meet Christ.
The Mother of God, the most pure Virgin, carried the true light in her arms and brought him to those who lay in darkness. We too should carry a light for all to see and reflect the radiance of the true light as we hasten to meet him.
The light has come and has shone upon a world enveloped in shadows; the Dayspring from on high has visited us and given light to those who lived in darkness. This, then, is our feast, and we join in procession with lighted candles to reveal the light that has shone upon us and the glory that is yet to come to us through him. So let us hasten all together to meet our God.
The true light has come, the light that enlightens every man who is born into this world. Let all of us, my brethren, be enlightened and made radiant by this light. Let all of us share in its splendor, and be so filled with it that no one remains in the darkness. Let us be shining ourselves as we go together to meet and to receive with the aged Simeon the light whose brilliance is eternal. Rejoicing with Simeon, let us sing a hymn of thanksgiving to God, the Father of the light, who sent the true light to dispel the darkness and to give us all a share in his splendor.
Through Simeon’s eyes we too have seen the salvation of God which he prepared for all the nations and revealed as the glory of the new Israel, which is ourselves. As Simeon was released from the bonds of this life when he had seen Christ, so we too were at once freed from our old state of sinfulness.
By faith we too embraced Christ, the salvation of God the Father, as he came to us from Bethlehem. Gentiles before, we have now become the people of God. Our eyes have seen God incarnate, and because we have seen him present among us and have mentally received him into our arms, we are called the new Israel. Never shall we forget this presence; every year we keep a feast in his honor.
Almighty ever-living God,
we humbly implore your majesty that,
just as your Only Begotten Son was presented
on this day in the Temple in the substance of our flesh,
so, by your grace, we may be presented to you with minds made pure.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
Peace and God Bless