This week I’m enjoying the opportunity to slowly savour each decade of the Rosary, taking time over a day to meditate with each mystery, and to write these reflections.
I’m finding it helpful to remember that a mystery of faith is not something that cannot be understood, but something that can only be appreciated with the eyes of faith.
As I consider each of the Joyful Mysteries this week my eyes of faith are opening a little more, praying with the events of the Annunciation, Visitation, Birth of the Lord, and today the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple.
In the town of Timaru where I spent my teenage years, many people were carried as babies by parents into the beautiful basilica of the Sacred Heart to be presented to God in baptism. In the formative years of my faith I would often spend much of the hour during Mass with my distracted gaze exploring the beauty of this church interior, and I remember well the stained-glass windows, several presenting the events of the life of Jesus, including the presentation of Jesus in the Temple.
I was there last week and took the picture above.
We’re familiar with this Mystery as the Presentation of the child Jesus in the temple, but you might like to consider this decade also as the Mystery of Recognition of Jesus.
It is likely that dozens of babies were presented in the temple that day when Anna and Simeon were on duty. This wise couple not only saw, but they recognised.
“Thus, this is the encounter between Jesus and his people, when Mary and Joseph brought their child to the Temple in Jerusalem; the first encounter between Jesus and his people, represented by Simeon and Anna, took place.”
A few years ago on the feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the temple Pope Benedict reflected
“Jesus’ Presentation at the temple 40 days after his birth places before our eyes a special moment in the life of the Holy Family: Mary and Joseph, in accordance with Mosaic law, took the tiny Jesus to the temple of Jerusalem to offer him to the Lord (cf. Lk 2: 22). Simeon and Anna, inspired by God, recognised that Child as the long-awaited Messiah and prophesied about him. We are in the presence of a mystery, both simple and solemn, in which Holy Church celebrates Christ, the Anointed One of the Father, the firstborn of the new humanity.
As Benedict suggests, Simeon and Anna were able to recognise Jesus in the crowd and the chaos because they were “inspired by God”.
Mary and Joseph understood that Jesus was not their child, but the child of God, entrusted to their care, to raise them for God and to prepare them for eternal life.
That’s the message from a prayer given to me last year in Devonport by a father of now-adult children. He prayed this every day as his children were growing and he told me that it helped him to keep things in perspective especially when the going was a bit tough.
Click the image of Sacred Heart Timaru below to be accompanied through the Fourth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. This is the view of the church I am most familiar with, the view from St Patrick’s school school grounds (now Roncalli College).