Presentation of the Lord in the Temple, at Mississippi Abbey
Scripture Readings: Mal 3:1-4; Lk 2:22-40
Simeon says the child will be a “light FOR revelation to the Gentiles and glory FOR your people Israel.” “For” is an important word here. Jesus is brought to the temple to be dedicated and dedication is always for. More specifically, he will be a LIGHT for. Indeed, we usually turnoff lights that are not needed for. Henceforth people will be known by whether or not they think this light needs to be on.
Jesus Christ is a light for human hearts. As light He gives life, sight, and knowledge. As a light for the heart He reveals how to value or determine worth. And the first to recognize this light are two who have no other competing light: Simeon and Anna.
Both were living in the light of the memory of Israel’s liberation, God’s great act “for.” More to the point, they were living in expectation of the fulfillment of the covenant promises. Anna is a prime example here. We’re told that she had lived seven years (seven is the perfect number in scripture) in the marriage covenant. That was a life lived for. Since her husband died she had been living the Sinai covenant exclusively, praying in the temple day and night. Just as her marriage covenant was replaced by her devotion for the Sinai covenant, so she was able to see the coming of the new covenant in the infant and to announce this redemption to all who were awaiting it.
Israel in slavery was lost and had no meaning or purpose in life, i.e. they had nothing to live for; they were virtually dead. Then God revealed Himself and they felt chosen and cherished. They had a new life. It was all an inside job. Anna exemplified this profoundly personal experience which involved an exchange of love and a pledge of loyalty characteristic of marriage. Like in marriage, Israel, i.e., we are to deepen the relationship with God as we—God and self—come to know each other better in the hardships of life. That is the light that is revealed to us Gentiles. That is how we are to use our freedom. We are to use it “for.” The Lord is to be loved exclusively because He alone brought us out of bondage.
As Sr. Verena begins the next phase of her formation, God’s saving deeds will be important to remember. She will participate in them. Lectio and the chanting of psalms will not form a monastic unless she feels the bondage (of self) and—eventually—experiences the liberation. Only when this is experienced personally will she understand the Exodus and the resurrection as God’s deeds for. And she will look at her sisters and see that the only response is a life given for.