A Light for Revelation to the Gentiles

“Little Lord Jesus blessed his elder Simeon”
Luke 2:22-35 “in a snailshell” 
The Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas
©️2021 by Gloria M. Chang

When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,” and to offer the sacrifice of “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,” in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying: 

“Now, Master, you may let your servant go
in peace, according to your word, 

for my eyes have seen your salvation, 
which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, 
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and glory for your people Israel.”

The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

Luke 2:22-35
The Presentation in the Temple (c. 1030-1040) by an unknown illuminator

Early Christian icons and illuminated manuscripts of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple depict the Infant Christ in a dignified, mature pose blessing his elder Simeon. Fully human and fully divine, the son of Mary and Joseph fulfilled Daniel’s prophecy of the “son of man” endowed with “dominion, splendor, and kingship” (Daniel 7:14). 

Illuminated manuscript of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (c. 1310-1320)

Thus the younger blessed the elder, while the elder blessed God with the Nunc Dimittis (Now let depart) or Canticle of Simeon, prayed every night at Compline by the universal Church. The Gospel of Luke, which was written especially for Gentiles, joyfully proclaims the newborn Christ who is “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”

Click here to view an Icon of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple by George Kordis, a contemporary expression of the Lordship of the Infant Christ.

A little child is born for us today;
little and yet called the mighty God, alleluia.

Liturgy of the Hours, Christmas,
Morning Prayer, Antiphon 3

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