Just two days after we’ve celebrated the birth of Jesus, we have Mary and Joseph losing him today. Of course this event in the Temple of Jerusalem–found only in Luke–happens when Jesus is already twelve years old. Be that as it may, the account gives us some kind of rude awakening, similar to yesterday, when we commemorated the martyrdom of St. Stephen, the very day after Christmas.
A Jesuit companion shared a copy of this painting with our community during our Advent recollection. It’s probably the great Rembrandt’s last and unfinished painting, discovered in the master’s workshop the day after he died. It is a painting of Simeon the Prophet, the man to whom God had made a special promise: that he would not see death until he could lay his eyes on the Christ.
And true enough, that apparently ordinary day, as Joseph and Mary presented the Christ Child to the temple for the traditional Jewish blessing and sacrifices, the prophet Simeon was led by the Holy Spirit to them. The canticle he uttered upon receiving the Holy Infant in his arms remains one of the loveliest in the entire Scripture. It is today more famously known as the ‘Nunc dimittis’ based on its first line: