There is a common knowledge that says, “first impression matters or counts.” To a considerable extent, this assertion holds because we are very sentient beings and by nature, we desire to know even the smallest details from visual, sound, and tactile cues when we meet people for the first time.
Some people contend the idea that subsequent impressions count when they can disapprove of the first impression. However, some still argue that one may need to have all the conditions and persons involved in the first impression to change the narrative using subsequent impressions.
Weighing in on this debate, Author Dobrin would say that “first impressions matter but the substance has the final word.” The substance of any reality is that which lies beneath the thing which is different from what is perceived physically with the senses.
Imagine the impression of people around and within the temple area seeing the humble family of Mary and Joseph bringing the infant Jesus to the temple to present him to God with their pair of turtle doves. And coming from Nazareth “where nothing good could come” (John 1:46) did not give them a lofty impression from the people either.
Beneath the external impressions lies the real substance of the one coming into the temple. In other words, the King of Glory was entering the temple, but it needed the in-depth discernment of two individuals, Simeon the priest and Anna the prophetess to understand what the people could not comprehend.
The Real Facts about Simeon and Anna
Simeon gives us the ideal characteristics and functions of a priest. The Gospel narrative says he was righteous, devout, and filled with the Holy Spirit. Simeon came into the temple in Spirit at that moment the parents of Jesus brought him to the temple (Luke 2:27). Furthermore, we learn that he blessed (praised) God and blessed them (Luke 2:28-34).
On the other hand, there was in the temple at that same hour the eighty-four years old Anna, a prophetess, and a widow for many years. She had devoted her life to God in worship, prayer and fasting every day and rarely left the temple. Encountering the presentation of the Lord, she gave thanks to God and proclaimed the good news of redemption to all she met.
Simeon (the priest) and Anna (the prophetess) represent the priestly and prophetic offices which together align with the kingly office represented by our Lord Jesus Christ himself, the new-born King to make up the three offices of Christ as priest, prophet, and king. Notably, we all share in these offices through our baptism (1 Peter 2:9).
Purification of the Temple
According to the Jewish law of the time, a woman remains unclean after the birth of her son for forty days before coming to the temple for purification (Leviticus 12:1-5). So, ideally, the presentation of Jesus Christ in the temple also meant the purification of Mary according to the law as it is now forty days after the birth of Jesus Christ.
In the case of Mary, there was no need for purification because there was no pollution in her. The entrance of our Lord Jesus Christ in the temple was to purify the temple just as the entry to the Jordan river for the baptism of John was to sanctify the water of baptism.
When the Holy One entered the temple, he purified the temple, cleansing as it were the stain of the blood of the animals used in the past for sacrifice while preparing to be the pure lamb for the sacrifice that would take away the sin of the world (John 1:29).
Presentation means Offering
The word presentation comes from the Latin word praesentare, which means “to place before” put in another way; it means to offer. So, whenever we make a presentation, we are offering something.
What the parents of Jesus Christ did today in the temple was to offer our Lord Jesus Christ to God. A more profound way of looking at it would be to see it as offering back to God His excellent gift to us (John 3:16). Here, we recall the story of Hannah the wife of Elkanah who asked for the gift of a son with the promise of offering him back to God which she did with her husband (1 Sam.24-28).
In the Holy Mass, we continue this exchange of offering between heaven and earth. During the offertory, we present the bread and wine (God’s gifts to us), and in the Holy Eucharist, we receive the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is so generous that He gives back to us whatever we give to Him and He does so in amazing and spiritually rewarding ways.
Moving Forward: What are you Presenting to God Today?
All our thoughts, words, and actions are presentations to ourselves and our immediate environment. When we make presentations, we offer what we have and that means we disclose ourselves to the entity before us. Our presentations could harm or safe, help or hinder. Therefore, we need to be careful about what we present.
The parents of Jesus presented him to the temple; in other words, they introduced him to the sacred path. It is no wonder then that the next time we would hear about Jesus, he was found in the temple amid teachers listening to them and asking them questions (Luke 2:46).
Where you present your child determines to a great extent what goes into the formation of the child. Parents should be careful about what they present to their children. If a child receives aggression, anger, fighting, and other destructive attitudes, the child will grow that way. It is essential for us, as the bible says, to teach a child the way he or she should go and when the child grows, he or she will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).
Have a blessed Sunday and a wonderful week ahead.