The Real Stars Come Out Next Weekend
Next weekend, all eyes will be tuning in with expectation to the Big Annual Event that has become a national (American) occasion for feasting and gathering. Many here are thinking about next Sunday's "Super Bowl."
I am, too, looking forward to next weekend's annual event, but I already know the script and who the winners are. I am referring to the annual Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord, also known as Candlemas or Hypapante (in Greek) the "Meeting" (of the Holy Family or the Christ Child with Simeon & Anna), on February 2 (as the St. James Calendar reminds us!)
Had there been any TV cameras around, they would not have been brought to the Temple to record an interview with the Blessed Virgin Mary and Joseph on their way in, nor with Simeon or Anna. What would have been newsworthy about a poor couple from a small town coming to have their firstborn son presented in the Temple, something that thousands of observant Jews did as a matter of custom? It would be like a christening of a poor family's baby boy in the only cathedral church of a city. One of many. The Holy Family in the Temple offered what was an exception prescribed for families too poor to afford the standard offering. Mary and Joseph qualified for the poverty exception. Not subjects for the 6 o'clock news team.
That other event next weekend, however, is all about TV cameras. The Super Bowl Show is "broadcast"—spread out there because lots of money is there to be made. Even the game itself will be altered—not insignificantly—by more than doubling the amount of time between the two halves of the game.
Football teams play all season long with a 12-minute halftime. But in the Super Bowl, and only the Super Bowl, they have 30 minutes. This changes the dynamics for the players. Why do it? For The Half Time Show. So a celebrity singer or group is brought in for entertainment, which wouldn't be needed if half-time were 12 minutes.
Of course, driving the Half-Time Show is the TV audience-oriented commercials around it. The game has taken a back seat to the $. (So what else is new?) Ad men in January are busy selling recliners and TV screens for The Big Day and $5million 30-second commercials during the Game.
Consider the Half Time Show and its Half Time celebrities. They are just that: half time, not Full Time, neither timeless nor eternal. Ephemeral shows, fleeting images and shadows bracketed by sales pitches and a game unnaturally put on hold for the show.
Be that as it may. I am fixed on the stars of Presentation. What of that strange old man and the old widow who eschewed the Super Bowls of the first-century and caught sight of the Star that came forth from Jacob, a Light to enlighten the Gentiles and the Glory of God's people Israel? They waited and waited for years in and about the Temple, looking, content to be doorkeepers in the house of the Lord rather than dwell in the tents of unrighteousness.
Those two, the Simeon & Anna Show, lasted much less than a half-time show, but their witness turned into a full-time two-thousand-year gig, remembered on February second every-year among the Gentiles to whom the Light shone out. Simeon and Anna are part of the biography of the Incarnate Son, now seated at the Right Hand of the Father. They belong to the living Body of Christ.
If we're not in Christ, our lives are mere half time shows, while the real Game of Life goes on before and after us, while we pass as shadows, eclipsed by the next thing on offer.
But in Christ, should we live and act and think in his Light, then, like Simeon and Anna, we became part of the ongoing story of the Eternal Son. With them, we've passed from the shadow of darkness into the Light, a light and life that is eternally full-time: that is, now . . . and ever . . . unto ages of ages!
Yours for Christ, Creed & Culture,
James M. Kushiner
Executive Director, The Fellowship of St. James
James M. Kushiner is Executive Editor of Touchstone: A Journal of Mere Christianity, and Executive Director of The Fellowship of St. James.