Mary and Joseph present Jesus in the Temple
The presentation in the Temple by John Opie, 1790-5
Forty days after the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph bring the child to the Temple to dedicate him to God. The Holy Spirit is again at work inspiring Simeon and Anna to recognise this baby as the Messiah – the Christ. They prophecy that the child will bring salvation not just to Israel but also for all nations. But this salvation will also be the cause of pain – with a sword piercing Mary’s soul.
Imagine Joseph and Mary taking the child to Nazareth. What would they be thinking about?
Mary spends much time pondering over strange happenings in her life, and wondering what the implications might be for herself and for her son.
Have you every experienced anyone predicting something about your life that turned out to be true?
Preparation: Begin by stilling; then dedicating the time of prayer to God and asking God that all you think, feel and imagine are for the glory of God.
Gift: Ask for what you desire. You may wish to be sensitive to God at work in the world as were Simeon and Anna.
Setting: Imagine you are a character in this story, someone in the Temple. Perhaps one of the main characters mentioned in Luke’s Gospel, or perhaps a passer by who is just watching what is happening.
When the days of their purification according to the law of Moses were fulfilled, they brought Jesus up to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”, Exodus 13:2,12 24, and to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, “A pair of turtle-doves, or two young pigeons.” Leviticus 12:8
Behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
He came in the Spirit into the temple. When the parents brought in the child, Jesus, that they might do concerning him according to the custom of the law, then he received him into his arms, and blessed God, and said,
“Now you are releasing your servant, Master,
according to your word, in peace;
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared before the face of all peoples;
a light for revelation to the nations,
and the glory of your people Israel.”
Joseph and his mother were marvelling at the things which were spoken concerning him, and Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary, his mother, “Behold, this child is set for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which is spoken against. Yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
There was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher, she was of a great age, having lived with a husband seven years from her virginity, and she had been a widow for about eighty-four years, who didn’t depart from the temple, worshipping with fasting and petitions night and day. Coming up at that very hour, she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of him to all those who were looking for redemption in Jerusalem.
When they had accomplished all things that were according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth.
Conversation: Talk to Jesus or Mary as a friend about whatever comes to you.
Imagine how they might reply.
Final Prayer: End with a formal prayer such as the Lord’s Prayer/Our Father or Hail Mary.
The Music is Nunc Dimittis Plainchant sung by the Cistercian monks of Stift Heiligenkruez
from the night prayer of the Church
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Salva nos, Domine, vigilantes, custodi nos dormientes,
ut vigil emus cum Christo et requiescamus in pace.
Save us, Lord, while we are awake, and protect us when we sleep,
that we may keep watch with Christ and rest with him in peace.
Nunc dimittis servum tuum,
Domine, secundum verbum tuum in pace:
Quia viderunt oculi mei salutare tuum
Quod parasti ante faciem omnium populorum:
Lumen ad revelationem gentium,
et gloriam plebis tuae Israel.
At last, All powerful Master, you give leave to your servant
To go in peace according to your promise.
For my eyes have seen your salvation
Which you have prepared for all nations.
A light to enlighten the gentiles,
And give glory to your people, Israel.