The Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple

Why do I have to suffer? Why does life seem to be so unfair? Why do so many good people seem to die young? Why do I have to die and all the people I love too? Why am I here anyway? Why are there bad guys? Why do the bad guys seem to win so much in real life? They don’t in the movies. Why then? Why? How long Lord? How long till you come and put it right? When will the just be vindicated? When will your people be One?

These are the questions aren’t they? You can think of plenty more too. But they’re not new questions. People have struggled with them as long as people have walked the earth – the Romantics, the Platonists, Neo-Platonists, modernists, post-modernists, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, Celts and Saxons, writers of the Hebrew Scriptures, Buddhists and Hindus, Moslems and Agnostics, Atheists… No doubt Simeon had pondered these things all his life. But something inside him insisted that he would not die before he saw the Awaited One.

One day in the temple of his prayers, Simeon saw more than what his eyes (or the rational mind) could perceive. Physical sight could notice Jesus, a forty day old baby. But that’s not how Simeon describes, in the Nunc Dimittis of Luke’s Gospel, what he saw. He says, “My eyes have seen your salvation.” Which is it? Is it a baby or is it salvation? The answer can only be, “Yes.”

Simeon’s ‘yes’ is also “yes” for you and me. This is not simple history. The presentation of our Lord in the temple is happening all the time. The unseen is seen, the untouchable touched, the unspoken heard, the uneaten tasted, the odourless made fragrant.

There are moments in all our lives when we come to the temple and we catch a glimpse of what Simeon saw. Do you remember a time when you thought to yourself and maybe even shouted out loud, “I want this feeling to last forever”? What about a day when you were so taken up by something or someone that you lost all track of time? It seemed just like you were living outside time. Remember a day when you railed, “I can’t do this any more. It’s too much. I can’t go on,” but somehow you did go on, though you haven’t a clue how.

In such moments we experience a presence greater than the people or events that seem to be there. We hear more than the words spoken. We feel more than what we can touch with our hands. We perceive more than what is in front of us. We know somehow there is more going on than the events appearing to unfold as they do.

No matter how incredible or how difficult the circumstance, we somehow experience that all is well. Everything is in some strange way right, as it is supposed to be, complete. Nothing is lacking. Our life suddenly becomes more than we have ever previously known it to be. There seems to be more meaning, though we know we are still only catching a glimpse.These are moments of presentation. These are the moments when we see salvation and are set free to go in peace.

‘The real problem is not why some pious, humble, believing people suffer, but why some do not.’ CS Lewis

‘As God works out his salvation of sinners, he leads us along unexpected paths that result in unexpected and sometimes agonizing pain. When it does, we can remember Mary. The darkest moment of her life, the sword that stabbed deepest into her soul, was the moment that God used most to bring salvation and joy to the world — and to her!

That’s how he works with us too. When the sword pierces, all it feels like is terrible pain. But later we discover that our deepest wounding often becomes the channel through which the most profound grace flows.’ Jon Bloom

~ by Fr Tim Ardouin on February 4, 2014.

2 Responses to “Why?”

  1. Hi Tim,
    We met briefly yesterday at the funeral in Llanrhidian and I wanted to express my apprecition of your service at the graveside.

    I was particularly blessed by the blessing (Celtic?) at the end.

    Thank you for your ministry and I look forward to reading your blog.

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