The presentation of our Lord in the Temple, Wednesday February 27, 2019.
Forty days after Christmas we celebrate the presentation of our Lord in the Temple.
We read about this in the Holy Gospel of Luke, chapter 2:22-40.
According to the laws in the Old Testament, the firstborn son had to be presented in the Temple, and the new mother had to go to the Temple to bring a sacrifice as purification after giving birth. Virgin Mary and St. Joseph could only bring a modest sacrifice, namely two pigeons and some money.
When Virgin Mary and St. Joseph came with Christ in the Temple, the old Simeon was there too. Simeon knew that God would allow him in his lifetime to see the Messiah promised in the Old Testament. Simeon knew that this child was the Messiah, and he praised God, saying:
“Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as You have promised. I have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and He is the glory of your people Israel!” The old Simeon blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph and said “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.”
In the Temple also the old prophetess Anna was present. She had been a widow for most of her life, and spent all her time in the Temple praying and fasting. When she saw Virgin Mary, St. Joseph and the Old Simeon with Christ, she began to praise God, and told all about God’s upcoming salvation.
We don’t know much about St. Anne, but I can imagine she did not have an easy life. She did what we read in Psalms 55:22 (cited in I Peter 5:7): “Cast your cares on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken.”
The gospel of Luke gives us herewith two examples: Simeon and Anne.
We should be as St. Simeon, in receiving Christ, and as St. Anne, in seeking God’s presence with fasting and praying.
In the Armenian tradition, the eve of the Feast of the Presentation of our Lord to the Temple (this year on Tuesday Februart 26) is celebrated in Church, children carry with them home-made lamps, often adorned with crosses.
After the liturgy, a bonfire is lit by a priest, who uses a candle from the Church service.
In early Christian tradition the eve of the feast is also called “candle mas”, as the fire reminds us of the words of St. Simeon: “Christ is a light for the nations” and of the Gospel of St. John 8:12 where Christ says ““I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”