Fr Abbot Brendan OSB
The Temple in Jerusalem was a very busy place. A great many people were coming and going about their business. Priests and Levites were taking their turn to be on duty and many other devout people and pilgrims were scurrying about anxious to encounter the God of Israel. In all of their haste and business, none of them noticed Jesus. The child Jesus was like all the others, a first-born son, of simple unremarkable parents.
Only two elderly people, Simeon and Anna, were alert enough to notice him. Led by the Spirit they were able to find the fulfilment of their long awaited watchfulness. The prophetic attitude of these two elderly people contains the entire Old Covenant. When they saw him, they just knew! That is what is so remarkable. His light was visible to their well trained eyes.
Our feast today contains the fundamental symbol of light. This light comes from Christ, as in an icon, and shines upon Mary, Joseph, Simeon and Anna. We are asked to express this light as philokalia, love of Divine beauty, where our mind becomes absorbed in the awareness of God as a living presence. For this reason a lighted candle was entrusted to each one of us at our baptism.
This feast also contains prophecy as a gift of the Holy Spirit. In contemplating the Child Jesus, Simeon and Anna foresee his destiny of death and Resurrection for the salvation of all peoples and they proclaim this mystery as universal salvation. True prophecy is born of God, from friendship with him, from attentive listening to his word in the different circumstances of history.
Finally, this feast reveals to us the wisdom of Simeon and Anna. The wisdom of a life completely dedicated to the search for God’s Face, for his light, for his signs, for his will. This is a life of listening to the Word and living it.
The Holy Spirit illumines the Word with new light opening up new pathways for us to follow in our own lives as Christians. Do not be blind to this light. Do not let it pass you by in the hustle and bustle of ordinary life. Become wise like Simeon and Anna, attuned to the Word of God, so that when that Word approaches, you will just know.
This feast invites us to see the world in the light of Christ, to become a prophetic people rooted in the Word that gives us wisdom.