Every year on February 2, as we celebrate the Presentation of the Lord, we remember the devout Jewish man who entered the Temple and saw the final chapter of his life unfold.
This elderly man spoke a prophetic message that has endured through successive generations and that continues to challenge all of us.
The old man’s name was Simeon, and what he saw in the Temple was the baby Jesus, whom God had promised he would see before he died. When Simeon took the baby and held him in his arms, he told Mary and Joseph: “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many” (Luke 2:34). With this one statement, Simeon expressed the core truth of what would happen some thirty years later, when Jesus offered his life for us on the cross.
If we were to take a moment to reflect on Simeon’s words, we might be struck by the spiritual realities that lie behind them: “Here in my arms is Israel’s Messiah, the Savior of the world. He will move everyone to face the sin in their lives. Some will feel compelled to repent, and they will rise. Others will harden themselves against him, and they will fall.”
While words like rising and falling can sound dire, we should look at Simeon’s prophecy as a message of encouragement and hope rather than one of doom. Why? Because Jesus came to redeem us, not condemn us; because Jesus is always with us, guiding us and protecting us. He is in charge of the world no matter how much doubt we have, no matter how much we have sinned. Jesus is on our side, always working on our behalf. He will never abandon us.
Just as Mary and Joseph freely presented Jesus to God at the Temple that day, Jesus freely presented himself to God on the cross and won the victory over sin and death. And likewise, he presents himself to us every day, asking us to open the door to him so that we can know his victory as well.
For our part, the Feast of the Presentation calls us—and the whole Church—to never give up meeting together. Coming together as one body in worship and adoration is one of the best ways we can present ourselves to Jesus. Nothing pleases him more than seeing all of us gathered together as one body—and nothing cements our commitment to Christ more than joining with our brothers and sisters in prayer.
So don’t worry about your destiny. Know that you are in good hands. Only, seek the Lord, and you will find him. And when he presents himself to you, he will ask a simple question: “Here I am, standing before you. Will you welcome me with open arms, just as Simeon did?” May we all answer with a heartfelt “yes!”
Joe Difato is founder of The Word Among Us.