Tag Archives: Jesus in the temple

An 84 Year Old Apostle

 

 

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St.. Luke begins his account of the infancy of Jesus in the temple in Jerusalem; the angel announces the birth of John to Zechariah. He brings his account to a close as Mary and Joseph take the Child to the temple, “to present him to the Lord.” Two old people representing the Jewish people, Simeon and Anna, meet the Child. Simeon joyfully takes  the Child in his arms. “Now you can dismiss your servant in peace, Lord, because my eyes have seen your salvation.” No temple priests, no officials, no angels, just two old people meet the Child.

Anna, an 84 year of temple regular and a widow after being married for only seven years,  also sees the Child. “Coming forward at the very time,” Luke says, “she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.”

The Lord comes to the 84 year old woman, to Simeon, to Mary and Joseph, Elizabeth and Zechariah, the shepherds in the hills, the wise men from afar. He comes to all.

Anna gives thanks at the sight of the Child and speaks about him to everyone she meets. At 84, she becomes an apostle.

It ain’t over till it’s over.

Knowing Jesus Christ

St. Augustine has an important reflection in his commentary on the psalms in today’s Office of Readings. It’s about the way we see Jesus Christ, who is God and also human, the Word made flesh.

“We contemplate his glory and divinity when we listen to these words: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him nothing was made. Here we gaze on the divinity of the Son of God, something supremely great and surpassing all the greatness of his creatures. Yet in other parts of Scripture we hear him as one sighing, praying, giving praise and thanks.

We hesitate to attribute these words to him because our minds are slow to come down to his humble level when we have just been contemplating him in his divinity. It is as though we were doing him an injustice in acknowledging in a man the words of one with whom we spoke when we prayed to God. We are usually at a loss and try to change the meaning. Yet our minds find nothing in Scripture that does not go back to him, nothing that will allow us to stray from him.

Our thoughts must then be awakened to keep their vigil of faith. We must realise that the one whom we were contemplating a short time before in his nature as God took to himself the nature of a servant; he was made in human likeness and found to be human like others; he humbled himself by being obedient even to accepting death; as he hung on the cross he made the psalmist’s words his own: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

We pray to him as God, he prays for us as a servant. In the first case he is the Creator, in the second a creature. Himself unchanged, he took to himself our created nature in order to change it, and made us one with himself, head and body. We pray then to him, through him, in him, and we speak along with him and he along with us.”

In these final weeks of Lent John’s gospel sees Jesus claiming to be “I am,” the Word confronting his opponents in the temple. Soon, we will see him praying with fear in the garden, silent before his enemies, struggling to bear his cross, dying a cruel death.

If we neglect his divinity, we call into question God’s gift of redemption to our world and our our own call to be God’s children. If we neglect his humanity, we call into question our own humanity, becoming other-worldly and ignoring the lowliness of our human condition.

We need to keep a “vigil of faith” as Augustine says.