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The Everyday Prayer

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Icon of the Holy Face
Church of Sant'Egidio, Rome

Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. Remembrance of Simeon and Anna, two elderly who were waiting for the Lord with faith. Prayer for the elderly. Memorial of the centurion Cornelius, the first pagan who was converted and baptized by Peter.

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

The Spirit of the Lord is upon you.
The child you shall bear will be holy.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Luke 2,22-40

And when the day came for them to be purified in keeping with the Law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord- observing what is written in the Law of the Lord: Every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord- and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is prescribed in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to the restoration 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 until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord. Prompted by the Spirit he came to the Temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the Law required, he took him into his arms and blessed God; and he said: Now, Master, you are letting your servant go in peace as you promised; for my eyes have seen the salvation which you have made ready in the sight of the nations; a light of revelation for the gentiles and glory for your people Israel. As the child's father and mother were wondering at the things that were being said about him, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, 'Look, he is destined for the fall and for the rise of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is opposed- and a sword will pierce your soul too -- so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.' There was a prophetess, too, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well on in years. Her days of girlhood over, she had been married for seven years before becoming a widow. She was now eighty-four years old and never left the Temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayer. She came up just at that moment and began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem. When they had done everything the Law of the Lord required, they went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. And as the child grew to maturity, he was filled with wisdom; and God's favour was with him.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Look down, O Lord, on your servants.
Be it unto us according to your word.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Today all Christian Churches celebrate the feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. The Gospel of Luke refers to the Law of Moses according to which a mother had to present her firstborn male child in the temple forty days after his birth. In order to perform the ceremony of purification, she had to offer a lamb or a pair of doves as a sacrifice to the Lord. The consecration of the firstborn, as is done with every first fruit, reminded all the people of Israel of God’s primacy over life and all of creation. Mary and Joseph, obedient to the Law of Moses, did all that was prescribed and brought Jesus to the temple to consecrate him before the Lord. They were poor and, unable to purchase a lamb for the sacrifice, offered a pair of doves. In fact, they were offering the "true Lamb" for the salvation of the world.
The Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple is one of the few feasts celebrated by both the Western and Eastern Churches. The celebration - once called the "solemn encounter" - already existed in Jerusalem during the first centuries. A procession through the city streets commemorated the Holy Family’s journey with the new-born baby Jesus from Bethlehem to Jerusalem. To this day, the holy liturgy has preserved the procession, to which the benediction of candles had been added during the tenth century: this detail gave the festival its popular name of "Candlemas." The light that we receive during the liturgy unites us not only to Mary and Joseph who go up to the Temple but also to Simeon and Anna who both welcome the infant, the "light to the nations."
Simeon sang, adopting the words of the prophet Isaiah in chapters forty-two and forty-nine on the Servant of the Lord. Simeon was a righteous man, fearful of God, "looking forward to" the consolation of Israel; he felt the warmth of the fire he was about to receive and "guided by the Spirit…Simeon came into the temple … and took the child in his arms and praised God." Just as Mary and Joseph had first done, Simeon now does the same, "taking the infant," and he is filled with infinite consolation that gives rise in his heart to one of the most beautiful prayers, "Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace … for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles" (Lk 2:29-32).
Simeon and the prophetess Anna were elderly; the Gospel specifies her age, eighty-four. They represent Israel and all of humanity who wait for "redemption," but we can also see in them all the aged, the elderly. And so, Simeon and Anna exemplify a beautiful old age. More and more frequently in society, we view elders, men and women, who are sad and resigned to their futures; their only consolation, when possible, is to feel nostalgia for their now distant youth. The Gospel today seems to loudly affirm—and it is right to shout out in our societies, which are particularly cruel toward the elders—that old age is not a failure, a disgrace, or a misfortune, not a time when we have to suffer, but rather a time to live with hope.
Simeon and Anna seem to step out from the crowded chorus of sad and anguished people to proclaim to all: "It is beautiful to be elderly! The elder years can be lived fully with hope and joy." Simeon and Anna’s song is inconceivable and incomprehensible in a society where only strength and wealth count; it is precisely from this mentality that the violence and cruelty of life spring forth. Today Simeon and Anna come to meet us. They announce the Gospel to us, the good news to all of society. They did not focus solely on their weaknesses and their fading strength. In that child, they found new company, new energy, an additional meaning for their old age. Simeon, after having held the infant in his arms, was able to sing the "Nunc dimittis" without the sadness of someone who had wasted his life and did not know what would happen to him. Anna, the elderly woman, from that encounter received new energy and strength to "praise God and to speak about the child" to whomever she met. She received a new vocation even in her old age. Truly Simeon and Anna are an example for all believers, especially-for-those who are advanced in age. They show a spiritual way to live the last part of our life. For them it was the most important one. It might also be so for many elderly men and women today.

Memory of the Mother of the Lord