by Father Alonzo Cox
Over the almost ten years of my priesthood, I have had the opportunity to share in the happiness and joy with parents who have announced the birth of a child. I have been blessed to see the excitement on the faces of parents when their child is born. It’s a beautiful moment to see parents hold their child for the first time, as tears of joy roll from their eyes.
I have that same image of Mary and Joseph as they bring their baby boy, Jesus, to be presented in the Temple. On this Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, we see the joy and excitement of Mary and Joseph as they bring their child to the Temple. As Jesus is brought into the Temple in the arms of his mother Mary, we see how this little baby touches the hearts of both Simeon and Anna.
Filled with the Holy Spirt, Simeon gazes his eyes upon baby Jesus and immediately he knows that this child was the one he was waiting to see before he closed his eyes in death. His proclamation: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”
Jesus is that light the world has been longing for! This light will save us from our sins. This light will break the chains of death. This light will come again in all of his glory and majesty to lead us to the eternal kingdom of heaven.
Just as Simeon gives testimony and witness to that light, we must do the same! Each night before we close our eyes for sleep, priests and religious pray Night Prayer, which is the last hour of the Divine Office. The words of Simeon are prayed each night allowing us to remember that the light revealed to the Gentiles is truly the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. We must allow the light of Christ to resonate within us for all the world to see. Just as Jesus transformed the hearts of his parents, Simeon and Anna, he wants to transform our hearts as well.
Simeon was able to see the salvation of the world in baby Jesus. We hear in today’s second reading from the letter to the Hebrews that Jesus became like us in every way to free us from our sins. He would soon suffer and die for the salvation of all. We see in this child the light of the world. As faithful witnesses of Christ, we are that light! We must never allow the light of Christ that dwells within us to be extinguished. We are called to bring the light of Christ to those whom we encounter throughout our lives. Just as Jesus transformed the hearts of his parents we must allow our hearts to be transformed by him.
On this feast of the Presentation of the Lord, let us pray that the light of Christ will illumine the darkness of our world. May we be filled with joy, as Christ is brought forth to all the nations.
Readings for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
Mal 3: 1–4
Psalm 24: 7, 8, 9, 10
Hebrews 2: 14–18
Luke 2: 22–40 OR 2: 22–32
Father Cox is the pastor of St. Martin de Porres parish, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and diocesan coordinator of ministry to African-American Catholics.