The presentation of Jesus in the temple is the beginning of a series of events in Jesus’ life in which Jesus points to God’s glory. When Simeon sees Jesus in the temple portico he says these words:
“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.”
They are words we say at evening prayer after the second reading, and after the magnificat.
The reading for today’s feast day of the Presentation note that Mary and Joseph are shocked at Simeon’s words. Imagine walking into church with your child and having someone take their hand or your hand and say this about them or about you. It would be shocking.
And yet, in the end, we are all reflections of God’s glory. Jesus was the light of lights but we too reflect some small bit of that light. When we are kind, when we are generous, when we are humble, when we are gentle we reflect God’s glory the way the facets of cut gems reflect light and color.
Not one of us is Jesus. But we do bring Christ’s light to each other and reflect God’s light in a dark world. People watch us and by what we say and do they decide if this “Christian thing” has any merit at all or if it is just an ongoing story of saints and sinners, torture and martyrdom, symbols and sanctuaries. We have the opportunity, every day, to preach the gospel with how we act and begin to tell a new generation an old story about about what it means to be bearers of the Christ light.
On The feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, we ask not only what Simeon saw that day in Jesus, but what people see today in us. Can people tell that my God is an edgy, provocative, humble, kind prophet who did not mind being killed for telling the truth? Can my life exhibit that the Jesus I follow and try to emulate wore brown?
Our work, yours and mine, is to be a light for those who do not yet believe. So the feast of the presentation is a chance to look at our lives and ask “When people see how I am in the world, can they tell I follow the Jesus who was presented that day – a Jesus who was not a Christian – a Jesus who was the light of life – a Jesus who hung out with those our society would reject?
It is a new day. We can be that kind of Christian.