Sunday Vigil

Share On

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

Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Whoever lives and believes in me
will never die.

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

If you believe, you will see the glory of God,
thus says the Lord.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Today all the Christian Churches celebrate the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. The Gospel of Luke refers to the Law of Moses according to which the mother had to present her firstborn child in the temple forty days after his birth. And, to perform the ceremony of purification, she had to offer up a lamb or a pair of doves in sacrifice. The consecration of the firstborn (as is done with every first fruit) reminded all of the people of Israel of God’s primacy over life and all of creation. Mary and Joseph obeying Moses’ law, did all that was prescribed, and, brought Jesus to temple to consecrate him to the Lord. As they were poor and could not afford a lamb for the sacrifice they offered a pair of doves; in fact, they were offering the “true Lamb” for the salvation of the world. The Feast of the Presentation is one of the feasts – few - celebrated by both the Western and Eastern Churches. The celebration (once called the “solemn encounter”) was already in place in the first centuries in Jerusalem. A procession through the city streets commemorated the Holy Family’s journey from Bethlehem to Jerusalem with the newborn baby Jesus. Still today the holy liturgy preserves the procession, to which during the tenth century, was added the benediction of the candles, which gave the festival the popular name of “Candlemas.” The light that is handed to us during the liturgy unites us to Simeon and Anna who welcome the infant. The child will be a “light to the nations,” Simeon sings, adopting the words from the prophet Isaiah in chapters forty-two and forty-nine on the Servant of the Lord.
Simeon, a righteous and God-fearing man who “looked forward to” the consolation of Israel, feels the heat of that fire he was about to receive: “Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple . . . took him in his arms and praised God.” As Mary and Joseph had done previously, Simeon too “takes the Child to himself” and is filled with a limitless consolation so much so that out of his heart flowed out 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 2:29-30).
Simeon and the prophetess Anna were elderly (the Gospel specifies her age, eighty-four). They represent Israel and all of humanity that wait for “redemption,” but we can also see in them all peoples advanced in age, the elderly. And so, Simeon and Anna exemplify the beauty of old age. In our society we easily see elders, men and women, who are sad and resigned to their future; their only consolation, when possible, is to feel nostalgia for their now distant youth. The Gospel today loudly affirms—and it is right to cry out in our societies that are particularly cruel toward the elders—that old age is not a shipwreck, a disgrace, or a misfortune, a time that we have to suffer rather than 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 fully lived with hope and joy. Simeon and Anna’s song is inconceivable and incomprehensible in a society where only strength and wealth count, though precisely from this mentality erupts the violence and cruelty of life.
Today, Simeon and Anna come to meet us. They announce the Gospel to us, the good news to all of society. They did not drop their eyes, focusing only on their weakness and on their fading strength. In that child they found a new friend, a new energy, a new meaning for their old age. Simeon, after having taken up 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. And Anna, the elderly woman, received a new energy and strength from her encounter with the infant to “praise God and to speak about the child” to whomever she met.