February 3, 2017
"Lord, now you let your servant go in peace;
your word has been fulfilled:
my own eyes have seen the salvation
which you have prepared in the sight of every people:
a light to reveal you to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel."
-Canticle of Simeon, Luke 2: 29-32
In today's gospel for the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord, we hear the prophecy of Simeon, who had been told by the Holy Spirit that he would not die without seeing the Messiah promised to the Jews. His immediate response to seeing the Holy Family enter the temple was to fall down in worship, knowing that God does not go back on His word.
Imagine how shocking such a prophecy must have sounded. Imagine how unsettling to Mary and Joseph that their infant, not yet even consecrated to God according to the law, is already recognized by the Jewish people as Savior, Messiah. Imagine, too, if someone had been there the day of each of our consecration to God at our Baptism to announce to our parents and godparents our role in the building up of the Kingdom. None of us is the Son of Man, obviously, but each of us has a vital part to play in the building of Christ's mystical body and the bringing about of His Kingdom. Each of us is called and equipped to be "a light to reveal [God] to the nations" from the minute we enter into the Church. Our vocation is one that, like that of Jesus, made no less mysterious by the proclamation of Simeon or the prophecy of Anna in the temple, will be revealed in ever more piercing and transformative moments over the course of our lives. But we must remember that it starts at the beginning - it starts in the temple, when we're helpless and unknowing, whether that happens on the day of our baptism as infants or each time we enter His Presence in church as adults.
Fittingly, this canticle is part of the church's nightly prayer at Compline. Even if you don't pray the Divine Office (which I highly recommend), this canticle is a beautiful prayer to say at night. Before you shut your eyes to sleep, this prayer guides you through thanking the Lord for fulfilling His word in your life during that day and acknowledges that you have seen His salvation. I invite you to make this prayer at night, allowing the canticle to guide you through an Examen of sorts, reflecting on moments of His grace and revelation throughout the day. Let Him show you His goodness to you so that you can sleep soundly in the peace that He is truly with you.