Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, 2nd February 2022
What is so striking in today’s gospel passage is the readiness of both Simeon and Anna to receive; a readiness brought about by long years of waiting on the Lord, of making themselves present to this possibility; that is, of a life prompted and led by God’s Holy Spirit, wherever that might go. For Simeon and Anna, this is expressed and symbolised by their faithfulness to the Temple or, in the words of Paul Lakeland,
The act of faith is the gift (of oneself) which the created person makes to the Uncreated Being, thus it is knowledge that is brought about by love.(p25 The Wounded Angel)
And what comes is personal encounter with Christ – a very human experience, mediated through the experience of a child. What better medium for the expression of love? Why this particular child at this particular moment is where the Spirit comes in. Where we are, in a sense, ambushed by a particular thought and feeling which, in another sense, we are quite unprepared for. So we can prepare for the action of the Spirit and yet be surprised by it – further proof that it is not us but God who is in charge. We can prepare but not determine, and it comes about because our nature is already graced by God – made for just such an encounter. And so we have the whole mystery of what it means to be a human being laid bare in this biblical scene: God made human that we might become divine – though none of those present will be thinking in such terms. All they know is a sense of fulfilment: the nexus between the human and the divine is being fulfilled in this child and we have, then, a sense of the holy. But it’s a tiny flame in a vast cosmos of darkness and needs our constant attention if it’s not to go out; that constant presence to the possibility of God, and of goodness, which Simeon and Anna and, no doubt Mary and Joseph, exemplify.