Forty days ago the Church celebrated the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.
To-day we rejoice with Simeon and Anna as the baby Jesus is presented in the Temple,
when He is offered to the Father and shown to His people.
His mother, our dear Lady, is also purified according to the Jewish Law
To-day is also seen as a bridge between Christmass and Good Friday.
Simeon’s words to Mary remind us to look ahead to Christ’s passion.
Mary’s soul will be pierced as she stands at the foot of the Cross
watching her Son die His agonising death.
A Reading from a sermon of Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem +638.
Let us all hasten to meet Christ,
we who honour and venerate the divine mystery we celebrate today.
Everyone should be eager to join the procession to share in this meeting.
Let no one refuse to carry a light.
Our bright shining candles are a sign of the divine splendour
of the one who comes to expel the dark shadows of evil and
to make the whole universe radiant with the brilliance of his eternal light.
Our candles also show how bright our souls should be when we go to meet Christ.
The God-bearer, the most pure Virgin, carried the true Light in her arms
and brought him to help those who lay in darkness.
In the same way, we too should carry a light for all to see and
reflect the radiance of the true light as we hasten to meet him.
Indeed, this is the mystery we celebrate today,
that the Light has come and has shone upon a world enveloped in shadow;
the Dayspring from on high has visited us
and given light to those who were sitting in darkness.
This is our feast, and we join in procession with lighted candles
to show both that the light has shone upon us and
to signify the glory that is yet to come to us through him.
So let its hasten all together to meet out God.
The true light has come,
‘the light that enlightens every person who is born into this world’.
Let all of us, beloved, be enlightened and be radiant with its light.
Let none of us remain a stranger to this brightness;
let no one who is filled remain in the darkness.
Let us be shining ourselves as we go together
to meet and to receive with the aged Simeon the light whose brilliance is eternal.
Rejoicing with Simeon, let us sing a hymn of thanksgiving to God,
the Origin and Father of the Light, who sent the true Light
to dispel the darkness and to give us all a share in his splendour.
Through Simeon’s eyes we too have seen the salvation of God
which he has prepared for all the nations,
and has revealed the glory of us who are the new Israel.
As Simeon was released from the bonds of this life when he had seen Christ,
so we too were at once freed from our old state of sinfulness.
By faith we too embraced Christ,
the salvation of’ God the Father,
as he came to us from Bethlehem.
Gentiles before, we have now become the people of God.
Our eyes have seen God made flesh,
and because we have seen him present among us
and have cradled him in our minds,
we are called the new Israel.
Never let us forget this presence;
every year let its keep this feast in his honour.
Almighty and ever-living God,
clothed in majesty,
whose beloved Son was this day presented in the Temple,
in substance of our flesh:
grant that we may be presented to you
with pure and clean hearts,
by your Son Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
(Gregorian Sacramentary, Sarum Missal, 1549 BCP)