The face of Christ is in every person
The Presentation of the Lord has meaning because people were willing to receive Him with open arms. Mary, Joseph, Simeon and Anna were receptive, while others missed out.
The same continues to be true today. Jesus Christ is present in our lives all the time. Sometimes we are aware of His presence, other times we are not. Notice that two senior citizens got special recognition in the Gospel. Hurray for the chronologically gifted. Apart from advertisements for funeral insurance, medications, and retirement plans, senior citizens are not held in high regard. Those who can no longer take care of themselves are placed in homes, separated from their families, and sometimes forgotten. Old age is often frowned upon as a reality to avoid. For some reason the words have echoed for generations, “Wisdom comes with age.” Perhaps the lessons of life bring wisdom and only with life experience are some things learned. Both Simeon and Anna had had plenty of life experiences. Wish we could have sat down to interview them about their families, their successes, disappointments. We might have discovered that they were very much like us. Ordinary folks, trying to do God’s will, but with their share of problems. Everything changed the day that they met the 40-day old child and His parents. Could Simeon have been afraid of dying? Aren’t most people at the “jumping off place” a little nervous about what’s coming next? Kind of normal to be fearful of the unknown. We get comfortable in the life we know, and we don’t like change. Death is the last and actually the most fantastic adventure we will ever experience. After Simeon saw the Christ Child he said, “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 the sight of all the peoples: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”
He was ready to let go of all of his doubts. Anxiety, worries about stuff over which we have no control, suspicions of people—they are the things that rob us of peace. We all want to die in peace, but that will not happen if we have not lived in peace. Therefore, all through our life, we have to practice letting go—surrendering—trusting. Our ego will always get in the way. We build the walls to protect ourselves from the shadows—the fears which will never happen. But fears can physically cripple us and prevent us from seeing Christ. He is not hiding, but we cannot see Him if our eyes are blinded by fear.
Simeon and Anna were not afraid to approach a family that they had never met and talk with them. Consider how different such and encounter is from our culture. We hide behind a cell phone, or a locked door, or the busyness of our work. If company comes to our home, do we turn off the television? When people want to meet us, do we extend our hand? In our paranoia of contagious disease many would rather keep their distance. When Jesus Christ Incarnated into the human race, He chose to share our nature in all things, except sin. He is present in every human being. And we say, “We know, just keep the ones we don’t like far away from us. Feed them, cloth them, take up a collection—just don’t bring them in here.” Jesus touched the untouchable; He reached out to the notorious sinners, the Lord associated with the undesirables. Simeon saw what was going to happen as a result. He spoke about the Passion and the sorrows that Mary would face. Simeon was able to see the price that Jesus would pay for saying that everyone is equal in the eyes of God. Salvation history, world history, American history—they all signal suffering as the price for freedom.
Jesus Christ was willing to give His life for our salvation. The least that we can do is try to look beyond our prejudice, lower our defenses and try to see the face of Christ in everyone.