Luke 2:22When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23(as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), 24and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
25Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, 28Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, 29“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; 30for my eyes have seen your salvation, 31which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” 33And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.” 36There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 38At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. 39When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.
“This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed“, says Simeon.
People walk away from the crucifixion suddenly aware of something about themselves; they beat their breasts. Conscience and consciousness are closely related. The real evolution of consciousness has to do with the workings of conscience. When the myth that justifies our sinfulness is shattered, our sinfulness becomes a problem. This is the beginning of interiority because we can begin to see our self from outside the mythological veil. “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” Girard calls this the first definition of the unconscious. Only several verses later, however, the spectators of the cross see (Gr. theoreo) what has happened, and they go home beating their breasts. The epistemological handicap has been removed, and immediately there is a pang of conscience and the beginning of a new consciousness.
What Jesus’ death confronts us with is precisely the fact that 1. This is what we do – we try to oppose, kill or destroy love and 2. That this is how love (God) responds – with self-giving sacrifice that is nonetheless confronting and consciousness raising. Even here at his presentation, an old man and an old woman can see this happening.
May we have the patience to wait for Jesus as did Simeon and Anna, and the consciousness to recognise him.