When the day came for them to be purified as laid down by the Law of Moses, the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, – observing what stands written in the Law of the Lord: Every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord – and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is said in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.
Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to Israel’s comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord. Prompted by the Spirit he came to the Temple and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the Law required, he took him into his arms and blessed God; and he said:
‘Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace,
just as you promised;
because my eyes have seen the salvation
which you have prepared for all the nations to see,
a light to enlighten the pagans
and the glory of your people Israel.’
As the child’s father and mother stood there wondering at the things that were being said about him, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected – and a sword will pierce your own soul too – so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.’
There was a prophetess also, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well on in years. Her days of girlhood over, she had been married for seven years before becoming a widow. She was now eighty-four years old and never left the Temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayer. She came by just at that moment and began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.
When they had done everything the Law of the Lord required, they went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. Meanwhile the child grew to maturity, and he was filled with wisdom; and God’s favour was with him.
Today we celebrate the presentation of the Lord Jesus in the Temple by Joseph and Mary, after the latter’s 40 days purification. It has been only Luke who recorded these two events. In our case we focus only on Jesus’s presentation in the Temple.
The feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple has been given the name of Hypapante or “to meet”. In the Eastern Church it is still known by this name because when Jesus was taken in the Temple he met His Father, and Simeon, and Anna, and the Jewish People. But especially through Simeon and Anna Jesus met (1) those who believed in him, (2) were happy with his coming among us and (3) who proclaimed him as the light who enlightens humanity and as the glory of the Chosen People.
When the Society asked the Archbishop of Malta, Mgr Joseph Mercieca, to start the Cause of Beatification of the Founder, it presented his faith in this way:
The Servant of God lived in a spirit of total faith in Christ, true God and true Man. All his interior life was built on this faith. His life and all the work he accomplished are a clear manifestation of the way he identified with the Son of God made man. So that every day of his life it was his conscious aim to increase within him this sense of personal intimacy and union with Jesus Christ. At the same time he accomplished the mission entrusted to him with the utmost faithfulness. These truths can still be verified in the clearest way possible with special reference to the sermons written by him. From his youth to the last day of his life, he did nothing else but take all his brothers closer to Christ.
In the reflections we shared with you on Christmas Day it was quite clear how much happy was Joseph De Piro with the coming of the Lord Jesus among us. And he had reason to be joyful, because “… God came down amongst us …”, “… the divine love descended from heaven …” and “… the almighty God descended from heaven to become man amongst us …”.
De Piro did not keep Jesus Christ for himself; he was so much filled with the Son of God made man that he continuously wished to share Him with all. For Joseph De Piro faith in Jesus Christ was:
the civilisation and the maturation of the human being as a whole;
that which introduces liberty in the human society; and
that which gives life and light to humanity.