Presentation of the Lord
Presentation of the Lord
As I look over the congregation today, I see people of every walk of life and of every age. I think one would have to say that we pretty well represent the American society of today. Rich and poor; old and young; people of varying national backgrounds. Men, women , children and youths. In today’s Gospel we have a story of ordinary people – like and you and like me. I think we can learn something about life from them. The qualities of all these people: Mary and Joseph; Simeon and Anna. They have something to say to us today and I think that is the special message of today’s Gospel.
Notice Mary and Joseph: They are a young couple, recently married, and just forty days ago they had their first child – a boy., The Jewish law says that the first born male belongs to God and the couple must sort of “buy” him back from God by going to the temple and offering a small animal for a sacrifice. This young couple are respectors of the law. Notice how they treat Simeon and Anna – with respect. They even let them hold their new born son and pray for him. But notice also that Simeon has some bad news about the future for Mary. She still respects him. Older people are many times very open and very frank and honest with people. You don’t have to agree with everything they say, but we do need to show respect to our elders.
The old man Simeon: the scriptures do not say that he is old, but it does seem to allude to the fact that he is ready to die – now that he has seen the anointed of the Lord. It does not say if he is married, single, or widowed. His profession is life is not mentioned either. It only tells us that he is a man who has a prayer for the baby of Joseph and Mary and a prophecy for the mother of this new child. His prophecy is not a happy one, but the young couple seem to respect him just the same.
The widow Anna: She is 84 years of age and has been living and working around the temple for many years now. She was widowed while still a young woman and has been giving her life to the service of the Lord ever since. This visit by the young couple of Nazareth with their new born son has made her day. Notice the great respect between the old and the young. If we could learn that kind of respect – older people for young and vice versa, we would have learned the lesson of today’s Gospel.
I think we could honestly say – from the Gospel reading today – that Joseph and Mary got a real boost in morale by their trip to the temple. They also left with a lot to think about. I am sure they went home a little more self-assured about raising this new baby of theirs. WHY? Because these older people were supportive of them, helpful, and most of all, interested in them., Could you say the same about yourself today in regard to younger people around you? Remember, you were young once also, and how were you treated by older folks? Hopefully we learn from one generation to the next.
Now, turn it around: how do you treat older folks? I am sure Mary and Joseph could have checked Simeon and Anna off as two old foggies with a few loose marbles. But they did not. They respected them and let them share the joy of their new son., I would hope that you would do the same – given the opportunity.
We talk about wanting peace in the world and in our own families. It will never happen until we are ready to make peace with one another – right in our own families and neighborhoods. This week I think we could take a good look at our own relationships with younger or older people. Start there and maybe we will see a more peace-filled world to live in.