After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord’), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons.’
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,
‘Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.’
He belongs to the Lord.
God says, ‘He is mine.’
Simeon, old, devout, searching for the salvation God has promised, full of the Holy Spirit, recognises him. Simeon knows, in the instant of recognition, just how much this child belongs to the Lord.
Khalil Gibran, in ‘The Prophet’, says, “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.” This is not how Simeon would have put it. But Simeon knew how this child, whom he recognised was the fulfilment of his and his nation’s dreams and aspirations, belonged to God in a way different from every other child. He knew how this child would not belong to his mother in a way different from every other child. He knew how torn and broken this child’s mother would be – in a way different from how every mother’s heart is torn and broken when their children pull away from them.
But he also knew how divided, and yet, how healed, how reconciled, would be the world because of this child. Simeon knew. He knew more than he could tell. He wept in pain for this mother. But he sang for joy for his world.
At this, the gateway to a new year,
Help us to let go of all we would cling on to.
Help us to offer to you all we have,
Even the people closest to us,
as Mary did,
so that through you
our offerings can bless the world.
Peter Rand is a member of Trinity Church, Bedlington in Northumberland.