The Presentation of Christ in the Temple
February 2- The Presentation of Christ in the Temple
On February second, we celebrate the feast day of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. When Jesus was forty days old, Mary and Joseph took Him to the temple to be presented to God. This was the custom at that time. If a child was presented and the parents were wealthy, they offered a lamb for sacrifice. If they were poor, they were to bring two pigeons or two turtle doves.
Since they were not wealthy, Mary and Joseph took two turtle doves. Upon arrival at the temple, they were met by a scholar named Simeon. He was a very intelligent man and studied the prophets of Israel. It was through this studying that he learned of the coming of the Messiah. He had been praying for this coming to deliver the Jewish people of Israel from their conquerors. God answered Simeon one day and told him that he would not die until he saw the Messiah.
When Mary and Joseph entered the temple with Jesus, Simeon took the baby in his arms, blessed Him, and said,
“Lord, now let Your servant go in peace according to Your promise, because my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory to Your people Israel.”
Simeon knew this baby was the Messiah when he laid eyes on Him. Imagine the feeling deep in his heart of seeing the Christ child at this moment. His heart must have been filled with joy and happiness. There was also a widow in the temple by the name of Anna the Prophetess. She was about eighty-four years old and had spent her time worshipping, praying, and fasting. When she saw the Christ Child she went out and proclaimed Him to all who were waiting for the Messiah.
At my church, the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church of Ambridge, Pennsylvania, we have the iconography of the Presentation of Christ. It is very beautiful and symbolic. The scene takes place in the altar of the temple. The Theotokos is standing to the left and her hand is held out as if she is making an offering. Simeon is to the right holding Jesus. His hands are covered as a sign of reverence to the
Messiah. Jesus is clothed in a small dress. He appears to be giving a blessing. Joseph is behind the Theotokos, holding the two turtle doves as their offering. Anna the Prophetess is also standing behind the Theotokos and pointing to Christ. Anna is holding a tablet that proclaims, “This Child Created The Heavens and The Earth.”
Luke 2: 39-40 reads, “So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the Grace of God was upon Him.”
On January 24, my husband and I celebrated the birth of our second grandchild. We are excited to welcome Penelope Katherine into the family! From the first moment I looked into her eyes, I was in love. I am already looking forward to taking her to church for her forty day blessing. Father will say prayers and present her to God. My church family will have the opportunity to meet her. The prayer of Simeon and the beautiful icon of this feast day have made me aware of what a truly blessed event this is in our Christian life.
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