HOLDING NONE OTHER THAN CHRIST IN ONE’S ARMS
Early in the month of February (on the 2nd), we celebrated the Presentation. I was struck by the thought of being able to hold in one’s arms none other than Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world.
The Feast of the Presentation is the celebration of Mary& Joseph presenting their child in the temple. And when they go to the temple, they are greeted by what the gospels tell us is a just, pious and old man, (Simeon) who has awaited the consolation of Israel. Simeon was given a revelation that he would not die until he had seen the Anointed One of the Lord. And so when Mary & Joseph entered the temple and Simeon realizes that this is the very moment he has been waiting for all his life, he says the following: “Now Master, you can dismiss your servant in peace; you have fulfilled your word. For my eyes have witnessed your saving deed, displayed for all the people to see: a revealing light to the Gentiles, the glory of your people Israel.”
Simeon knows that he can now die in peace and he is ready to do so, His life has now been fulfilled by holding the Anointed One in his arms. The gospels do not tell us that Simeon died soon after this moment, but certainly we can conclude that he was a very happy man for having experienced what he did.
And so I meditated on this thought of happiness and fulfillment on behalf of Simeon. At one point the thought came to me that it would be really nice to be able to experience the exact same thing as Simeon did. But then another thought came to me. In many ways each of us has had the same experience at many different times in our lives.
Although we don’t hold the child Jesus in our arms as Simeon did, we do hold Jesus in our hands in the form of bread and wine in the Eucharist. We hold Jesus in our arms in a real way also when we hold babies in our arms or when we hug one another. For truly all humans are created in the image and likeness of God and so, in a sense, God is within all of us. So although the moment may not be as dramatic as it was for Simeon, we also can hold the Anointed One in our arms.
On the Feast of the Presentation we also give a special place to light. We bless candles that are going to be used throughout the year. Our candles are always reminders of the Paschal Candle and that Christ is Light—the Light of the world. So as we continue the days of this month of February, let us be mindful of Christ in our midst and the dignity and respect we need to have for one another. For truly Christ is among us in one another and it is possible to hold this Christ in our arms!