The parents of Jesus brought him to the Temple just as parents today bring their children to church for baptism: to present him to the Lord, to do what their religion required. They met two people who had been waiting for them and who were delighted to welcome the new baby, because, with the eyes of faith, they really saw this child and knew that he was the Saviour they had been longing for. Simeon saw in this tiny child the Christ who would, through his own death and resurrection, bring about the rising of many.
This week we formed a new team to welcome and support parents who bring their children to us for baptism. As Pope Francis said, no-one can baptise themselves, we have to ask the church community for baptism: it is an act of joining and being received by a community.
We want to help parents to see the image and presence of God in their children and to know that through baptism they will enter into the death of Jesus in order to be raised with him to new life. We want to help parents to awaken the memory of their own baptism and experience its liberating power. We want to help them to draw closer to Jesus who, by sharing in our own flesh and blood, has become so completely like us that he can enable us to be like him. By his death, as our second reading this weekend says, he has set free all those who had been held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death. He has become a compassionate and trustworthy high priest, able to atone for human sins: because he has been through temptation, he is able to help others who are tempted.
Whenever we meet a child, may we always see beyond their outward appearance and recognise a beloved son or daughter of God. Simeon and Anna’s encounter with the child Jesus moved them to joyful praise of God and filled them with a desire to speak about Jesus to anyone who was open to hear their message of good news. Let us pray that our relationship with Jesus will fill us with the same joy and the same desire to share the good news of his love with others.