February 2, is known not only as Ground Hog Day, but is also the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. This is when the Church observes the event where Mary and Joseph took the infant “Jesus up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord.” This day is really about seeing Light rather than looking for the shadows. According to Simeon, Christ is “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and a glory for your people Israel.”
The more I look at this reading, the more I am convinced it has elements of diversity. Diversity today is one of those buzz words. It refers to being multi-culturally and demographically sensitive. As noted above we can see that Jesus came for the Israelites and the Gentiles. In the world of the Bible, anyone who was not an Israelite was a type of Gentile.
The young, the old, the widowed, the married, the male, and the female were at the Temple at the time of Jesus’ Presentation. First we have the baby Jesus being brought in by His parents Mary and Joseph. We also find Anna and Simeon, two elderly people, who basically hung out at the Temple day and night. Anna was a prophetess and Simeon a prophet. Both were waiting to see Jesus. They had received special insight from the Holy Spirit that Jesus would be there one day. From the way that the Gospel reads it appears that Simeon had been waiting for a long time: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation.”
So much about demographics at the time of the Presentation of Jesus does put emphasis on the fact that He came for everyone. These days still a lot of older people seem to dominate the population distribution in the pews. A very practical reason could be that they are retired and do not have to go to work or tend to young families. Also as people get older and closer to death, they tend to think more about the afterlife. But this does not explain the predominance of the elderly on Sundays, which really should be a multigenerational family time in the Church. It also could be that going to Church has fallen out of fashion with our modern-day society. But for some reason these days it seems that “fashion” has developed into the antithesis of “tradition.”
The act of Mary and Jesus in bringing their child into the Temple shows that it is also a family affair and is something that is done according to custom and tradition. Many say that they don’t want to have children screaming during the services. But kids will be kids. I have heard it said that one can measure the viability of a particular parish by being able to hear numerous crying babies during the Mass. I have also heard the old saying that a family that prays together stays together. Even in studying the preventative factors of substance abuse, I learned that families that go to Church together and have eat meals together have a lower incidence of addictions.
So much can be said about bringing one’s child into the Temple and dedicating him or her to the Lord. We truly do live in a time needing Light rather than the shadows. Some things should never change.