Engaging the Gospel – Luke 2:22-40

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary & Joseph (Year B): Gospel – Luke 2:22-40

The Presentation of Jesus in the Temple

“The presentation of Jesus in the Temple shows him to be the firstborn Son who belongs to the Lord,” as the Catechism teaches (paragraph 529).

Benedict XVI observes a crucial detail about St. Luke’s language. Unlike the custom to “redeem” the firstborn by a payment, this Presentation only confirms Jesus’ total dedication to God:

Evidently Luke intends to say that instead of being “redeemed” and restored to His parents, this Child was personally handed over to God in the Temple, given over completely to God. The verb paristanai, here translated as “to present,” also means “to offer,” in the way that sacrifices in the Temple were “offered.”

…Luke has nothing to say regarding the act of “redemption” prescribed by the law. In its place we find the exact opposite: the Child is handed over to God, and from now on belongs to Him completely. None of the aforementioned acts prescribed by the law required an appearance in the Temple.

…Here, in the place of encounter between God and His people, instead of the reclamation of the first-born, what happens is that Jesus is publicly handed over to God, His Father.

Jesus of Nazareth, Vol. 3, pp. 82-83.

The Presentation itself becomes an encounter between the baby Jesus and the devout pair of Simeon and Anna, who embody the piety of Israel.

“With Simeon and Anna, all Israel awaits its encounter with the Savior – the name given to this event in the Byzantine tradition” (Catechism paragraph 529).

Simeon and Anna belong to the “small Remnant, the people of the poor, who await in hope the consolation of Israel and the redemption of Jerusalem” (711), and their hope is fulfilled when they meet the infant Jesus in the Temple.

Both Simeon and Anna are themselves wholly attuned to the Lord, as Benedict points out. Living intentionally for God, they are docile to the Holy Spirit and receptive to His inspiration.

Question for reflection: How might I be more generous in giving myself to the Lord?

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