Feast of the (Encounter) Presentation of Our Lord Into the Temple
List of Major Feast Days
February 2 (Gregorian Calendar)
February 15 (Julian Calendar)
On this Feast day, we see Jesus forty days old, carried into the temple in Jerusalem by Mary and Joseph, to be recognized as God’s Messiah by the aged Simeon and Anna.
In obedience to the Law of Moses, the Lord Jesus, the first-born, was presented in the Temple by his Blessed Mother and his foster father. Joseph and Mary brought the Child Jesus into the temple along with a humble sacrifice of young pigeons as a sign of thanksgiving.
In Jerusalem at that time there lived a man, Simeon, who was just and devout. According to tradition, Simeon had been visited by an angel of the Lord who foretold him that he would not see death before seeing the Messiah born of the Virgin. Led by the Holy Spirit into the temple on the day that the holy family brought the Child Jesus to fulfill the law, Simeon took the Child into his arms and blessed God by saying: “Lord, now let Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared before the face of all people, a light to lighten the gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32). This is another ‘epiphany’ celebration insofar as the Christ Child is revealed as the Messiah through the canticle and words of Simeon and the testimony of Anna the prophetess who was also in the temple that day. Christ is the light of the nations, hence the blessing of candles on this day.
Simeon and Anna represent the true Israel of God. They have kept the law given through Moses. They have worshiped in the holy place, the Temple, and they are alive to the unexpectedness of God’s providence.
Simeon and Anna are inspired by the Holy Spirit to see in this child the Holy One of Israel, long awaited. They themselves are old and have grown old in the service of God. They have that widened perception which comes with continual praying.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Phanuel means ‘face of God’ and he is Anna’s father. It is a play on words, that a prophetess recognizes the Messiah and her father’s name means ‘face of God’.
- Simeon means ‘He who has seen God’.
- In the halo of Jesus, there is always a cross which represents His destiny, to die for the salvation of humanity on the cross.
- There are also three letters in the halo of Jesus – “O”, “W” and “H”. These are Greek letters which mean “The Being” or in Hebrew “I AM”, the name revealed to Moses by the Lord speaking from the Burning Bush.
- The Feast Day of the Meeting is the meeting of the Old and New Covenants. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant and gives to us the New Covenant through the Eucharist.
- In this Feast Day, each one of us ought to be a Temple of God to which Mary brings Jesus. And each should, like Simeon, take the Child in our arms and say to the Father: My eyes have seen Your salvation. And having seen and touched the Saviour, we are released from the hold that sin has on us and in peace we can leave the realm of evil.
At Vespers, there are three readings from the Old Covenant. The first is from Exodus 12:51-13:16, from the law given by God to Israel. Every first-born male is to presented to the Lord. Every mother shall come after forty days to make offerings to God: a lamb or two-turtle doves or two pigeons. The child shall be presented; the mother shall be purified.
The second reading is from the prophet Isaiah, 6:1-12. He had a vision in the temple of God Himself visiting the place where His Name is kept holy. He saw the Cherubim and the Seraphim and he heard their song:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts.
The whole earth is full of Your glory.”
Isaiah felt his sinfulness in the presence of God, and he lamented his own sin, and the sin of his people. Then one of the Seraphim took a live coal from the altar and laid it on the mouth of the prophet, purging his sin. Isaiah heard the voice of the Lord asking for a messenger. He offered himself, “Here I am. Send me.” He was given the message for Israel, a message of desolation. Only a remnant would “see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their heart, convert and be healed.” Mary and Joseph, Simeon and Anna were of the faithful remnant.
The third reading is from Isaiah 19:1, 3-5, 12. We read how even “the Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day and shall do sacrifice and oblation.” For Jesus has come “to be a light to lighten the Gentiles,” as well as “the glory of His people Israel.” References of this reading are found in the Song of Simeon. This is the song of Simeon:
Now You shall dismiss Your servant, O Lord, according to Your word, in peace, because my eyes have seen Your salvation which You prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to the revelation of the Gentiles and the glory of Your people, Israel.
At the Liturgy, we read in Luke 2:22-40 about this meeting. Joseph and Mary marvelled to hear what Simeon said. Mary treasured this in her heart. Simeon prophesied to Mary:
“This child is destined to be the downfall and the rise of many in Israel, a sign that will be opposed and you yourself shall be pierced with a sword.”
Mary was early made aware of the suffering which would come through being the mother of the Redeemer of the world. “The greater the love, the greater the suffering.” Anna, the prophetess, was about 84 years old. She served God in fasting and prayer, night and day, in the temple. When she saw the Child, she gave thanks to God, and spoke about Jesus to those others of the faithful remnant who lived in Jerusalem.
The Epistle is taken from Hebrews 7-17. The author writes about the greater one blessing the lesser one. Although we think that Simeon, who is older, is blessing the Child Jesus, it is actually Jesus, who is God before all ages, who blesses Simeon.
TROPAR (Tone 1)
Hail, Mother of God, Virgin full of grace. * From you has shown forth the Sun of Justice, Christ our God, * shining upon those who are in darkness. *Rejoice also, you just Elder Simeon, *for you received in your arms the Redeemer of our souls * who has given us Resurrection.
KONDAK (Tone 1)
O Christ our God, through Your birth You sanctified the Virgin’s womb, * and blessed, as it was proper, the hands of Simeon. *Today, You have come to bring us deliverance. * Give peace to nations at war and strengthen our civil authorities, * for You alone love us all.
WHAT CAN I DO AT HOME OR IN MY CLASSROOM?
. Make candles and take them to Church to be blessed.
. Tell the story of the Meeting of our Lord and explain the Icon.
. Learn the Tropar and Kondak for the Feast Day.
. Attend Liturgy on the Feast Day as a family or as a class.
. Have a candlelight dinner to remind each other of the True Light in our lives.
. Learn to sing the Hymn of Simeon and teach it to the children.