Back in the time that Jesus lived, it was a law that every first-born male in a family was presented to God, given to God to do God’s will. They would come on the fortieth day of the child’s life and present the child, along with a sacrificial offering and they would receive a blessing from one of the priests. It hardly seems possible, but it’s already been forty days since Christmas, since the day Jesus was born! How time flies for us!
Of course, you have to love the irony in the story here because, in the case of Jesus, his parents were presenting a child to God who came in a special way from God himself. They were giving back to God the child that God only gave them to take care of for a while. Just as every first-born son was presented to God in order to do something special with his life, this first, and only born Son of God and son of Mary and Joseph had the most special thing ever to do with his life, and that was to lay his life down for all of us.
On this feast day every year, we bless candles to light the Church and light people’s homes. We do that because we remember that on this day, Jesus, who is the Light of the World, was presented to the wise old Simeon, who recognized that Jesus was the Light that was to come into the world. God’s Spirit had promised that he would never die until he saw that Light, and now he knew that he could die in peace.
Simeon was at peace because he knew that God was lighting the world and taking care of his people who used to dwell in darkness. The same is true for all of us. Sometimes the world can be a dark place because of war or violence or hatred, or many other evils. It can be hard to see where our world is going in times like that, and oftentimes we ourselves fall into temptation or into sin. We need light to show us the way out of all that darkness.
And, of course, we have that light. Jesus is the one who came into the world and lit up the world and lights up our lives. He lit up the lives of Mary, and Joseph, and Simeon and now he lights up our lives and shows us the way out of the darkness. Even if we do fall here and there, Jesus’ light helps us to get back up and get going on the path once again.
The Lord is our light and our salvation. Whom should we fear?