Today the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. The feast commemorates the day Mary and Joseph bringing their newborn child, Jesus, to the temple “to present him to the Lord” in fulfillment of the Scripture that “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord.” When they arrive at the temple, both the devout man Simeon and the prophetess Anna recognize Jesus as their Lord.
I love praying with the passage from Luke that describes this event. I can feel Simeon’s joy and praise and confidence, as he holds the child and says to God, “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation.” As I sat with the passage this morning, I wondered what it would take for me to honestly say, “I’m now ready to go in peace, Lord.” (The best I can say is give me the grace to go willingly whenever you call me.)
I’m also always struck by Simeon’s words to Mary in this passage “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted – and you yourself a sword will pierce – so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” What must Mary have felt when she heard these words? Frightening words to the mother of a baby. You expect people to look at your baby and say things like, “He looks just like his mother,” or “What a beautiful baby.” And if anyone makes any predictions, you expect to hear, “He’ll grow into a fine young man.” But Mary hears a much more troubling prediction.
I’m guessing Mary did with those words what she did so often: pondered them in her heart. And prayed to her God in whom she had so much faith and trust. And loved her child… knowing he would not be hers forever.