Only the old people recognized the Savior.

There were two precepts of Jewish law that obliged the parents of Jesus to appear in the temple on his fortieth day. One precept dealt with the first-born child.

Representing all the brothers and sisters that might follow him, the firstborn was offered to God in acknowledgment that all children belong to God. The ritual called for the parents to buy the firstborn back by an offering of two doves. That ceremony gave this day the title of the Feast of the Presentation.

The other precept dealt with the new mother. She was considered to have been rendered ritually unclean by the flow of blood concomitant with giving birth. The same two doves served to render her clean. Seen from the mother’s side this was sometimes called the Feast of the Purification.

One interesting aspect of the day has to do with the priests and the temple crowds not being able to recognize the holy child. It was only the two old people, Simeon and Anna, who knew the Messiah when they saw him.

This story should serve to alert us to the ability of old people to see what is overlooked by younger people. Freed from the preoccupations young people have with finding suitable mates, and with being recognized by others as suitable mates, old people are free to see what really counts. They are capable of seeing the value of people who are not sexually attractive. They are anxious to be friendly to cosmetically undesirable people.

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