February 2, 2021 – Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
Simeon recognized Jesus: Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation…
Anna recognized Jesus: There was also a prophetess, Anna. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child…
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. It was customary in the Jewish faith, forty days after the birth of a male child, for the parents to bring the child to the temple. They would dedicate him to God and offer sacrifice on his behalf.
This event is often captured in paintings that show pristine marble steps and grand columns, with Joseph carrying a small cage with two doves that would be sacrificed. Mary is pictured handing the child Jesus to Simeon, while Anna looks on.
However, listen to this description of what the experience in the temple would have been like: There was a roaring trade in sacrificial animals in the great courtyard of the Temple. The demand for pure, sacrificial animals was huge, so at the presentation of Jesus at the Temple, one would have heard a symphony of animals braying, birds screeching, the stench of living and dying animals, the carnage from the sacrifices, gutters of blood, and the high sound of animal traders and money changers hawking their wares.
The reality is that the temple experience would have been nothing short of chaos. Simeon and Anna didn’t recognize Jesus in the peaceful serenity of a beautiful setting. They recognized Him during, and in spite of, the chaos of daily life in the temple.
We can recognize Jesus when we all come together prayerfully and completely focus on Him. However, do we recognize Him in the chaos of our daily lives?
Simeon and Anna recognized Christ because they were seeking Him. Their hearts were open and their desire to find Him was genuine.
If we do the same, we’ll find Jesus in the chaos, too.