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.
Joseph and Mary brought the Child Jesus into the temple on the fortieth
day along with a humble sacrifice of two young pigeons.
In Jerusalem at that time there lived a man, Simeon, who was just and devout and was awaiting the consolation of Israel.
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
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 2:33-35).
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 2: 38-39).