By Sean Martin
John Paul II Generation
On the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord – as on most feast days – I wished my wife and children a “happy feast day.” My enthusiastic 5-year-old daughter shouted back, “Happy feast day to you too, Daddy!” and then whispered in my ear, “Umm, who’s feast day is it?”
I responded back to her, “It’s the Feast of the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple.”
I described to her that Mary and Joseph presented the baby Jesus to God the Father in the temple. I recounted the prayer that Simeon prayed after seeing the infant Jesus: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32).
I explained to my daughter that Simeon was expressing to God that he could now die because he had seen Christ the Lord. In which my 7-year-old son, who was listening to our conversation chimed in, “What? Was that on his bucket list?”
Needless to say, we all had a good laugh. Then, I really began to think about the profoundness of my son’s words.
“My Lord, my deepest yearning is before you” (Psalm 38:10). Deep down inside, each of us desires and longs to see the Lord. “The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for” (CCC 27). It should be number one on all of our bucket lists to have an intimate relationship and an encounter with the living God.
“With Simeon and Anna, all Israel awaits its encounter with the Savior… Jesus is recognized as the long-expected Messiah, the ‘light to the nations’” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 529). Simeon and Anna had great faith and hope in the coming of the Messiah. “Faith is man’s response to God, who reveals himself and gives himself to man, at the same time bringing man a superabundant light as he searches for the ultimate meaning of his life” (CCC 26).
Simeon and Anna’s encounter with the Lord and their recognition of Jesus as the Messiah came about for them as a result of years of prayer and sacrifice. The Lord will come to us as well as we imitate Simeon and Anna’s prayers and sacrifices on a daily basis. It doesn’t seem to me to be a coincidence that the church places Simeon’s prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours Night Prayer, which is prayed every night.
As we throw away the Christmas trees and put away the decorations and lights, let us not forget that Jesus is the true light of the world. Let us pray daily for the Lord to come to us and speak to the depths of our hearts.
Sean Martin is director of new evangelization, catechesis and family life for the Diocese of Sioux City.