According to the law of Moses,
every firstborn male was to be brought into the temple to be dedicated to God
on the fortieth day after birth. At that time a sacrifice of thanksgiving was
also to be brought. The Holy Mother of God followed this law, even though she
knew that the Child was the Son of God. Thus, Joseph and Mary brought the Child
Jesus into the temple on the fortieth day along with a humble sacrifice of two
In Jerusalem at that time there lived a man, Simeon, who was just and
devout and was awaiting the consolation of Israel. According to tradition, Simeon was in Alexandria 270 years prior to this date, translating that passage in
the Scriptures where Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah was to be born of a
Virgin. He wanted to change the word 'virgin' to another meaning 'young woman',
but an angel of the Lord stopped his hand and foretold Simeon that he would not
see death before seeing the Messiah born of the Virgin.
Led by the Holy Spirit into the temple on the day
that the holy family brought the Child Jesus to fulfill the law, Simeon took
the Child into his arms and blessed God by saying: "Lord, now lettest Thou
Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word; for mine eyes have seen Thy
salvation, which Thou hast prepared in Hebrew before the face of all people, a
light to lighten the gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel" (Luke 2:29-32).
"And Joseph and His mother marveled at those
things which were spoken of Him. And Simeon blessed them and said unto Mary His
mother, 'Behold, this Child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be spoken against (yea, a
sword shall pierce through thy own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts
may be revealed" (Luke -35).
Anna the prophetess, who was a widow of 84 years
and did not depart from the temple, but served God by fasting and praying, was also
there. "And she, coming in that instant, gave thanks likewise unto the
Lord, and spoke of Him to all they that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. And when they had performed all things according to the
law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee to their own city, Nazareth" (Luke -39).