Who is Presenting Whom?

Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel. (Luke 2:27-32).

Today is the Feast of the Presentation of our Lord in the Temple. We tend to hear the scripture as saying that Jesus is the object of the presentation, the one being presented. Jesus is presented to Simeon and Simeon presents, offers, Jesus, as the firstborn, to God in accordance with the law (Exodus 13:2). The name of the feast itself can be understood in this way but it can also be understood as saying that the presentation is of, that is, by or from Jesus. So who is presenting whom? St. Ephrem the Syrian explains in his Homily on Our Lord that the infant Christ was actually presenting the priest, Simeon, to His Father and not the priest presenting Jesus.

Symeon the priest, when he took Him up in his arms to present Him before God, understood as he saw Him that he was not presenting Him, but was being himself presented. For the Son was not presented by the servant to His Father, but the servant was presented by the Son to his Lord. For it is not possible that He, by Whom every offering is presented, should be presented by another. So that He Who receives offerings gave Himself to be offered by another, that those who presented Him, while offering Him, might themselves be presented by Him.

While Mary is called the God-Bearer, Simeon is sometimes called the God-Receiver. As we receive Jesus so then are we presented to God.

Almighty and everliving God, we humbly pray that, as your only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple, so we may be presented to you with pure and clean hearts by Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen (Book of Common Prayer).

4 thoughts on “Who is Presenting Whom?

  1. Pingback: A Sermon for The Feast of the Presentation (Candlemas) « Interrupting the Silence

  2. This is so very much like what James Finley spoke at the conference in Albuquerque. “For it is not possible that He, by Whom every offering is presented, should be presented by another. So that He Who receives offerings gave Himself to be offered by another, that those who presented Him, while offering Him, might themselves be presented by Him.” Whew! I truly believe that one of the mystical things about the Great Mystery is that the mind (mental capacity) is confounded!! Yes, you’re probably laughing. And I DO understand, sort of, what you are saying in your blog comments, but I also believe that one important thing is the paradox – the actual confounding of our rational thinking.
    I do so much appreciate your prayer at the conclusion of the comments, too.
    Thank you, dear friend.
    Jan

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    • Jan, I think you are right. We need to have our rational thought confounded, confused, in order that we may be present in another way. The rational is not bad just limited. This, I think, is described by the metaphor and book, The Cloud of Unknowing.

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  3. Pingback: A Life that Fits – A Sermon on Luke 2:22-40 for the Feast of the Presentation | Interrupting the Silence

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