On February 2, the Catholic Church remembers the bringing of Jesus to the Temple by his parents when he was just 40 days old.

simeon-anne-medium40 days after Christmas, the Church remembers the first entry of Jesus into the Temple (cf. Luke 2:22-40). In the Gospel, it is written that his observant parents came to the Temple at the end of time of purification of Mary (40 days after the birth of a son according to the Law of Moses, as written in Leviticus 12:2-8). Saint Luke also makes reference to the laws regarding the redemption of the first born son (mentioned in Exodus 13). According to the Law, the woman is commanded to bring "a lamb in its first year for a burnt offering, and a pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering" (Leviticus 12:6). The fact that Jesus' family brought "two turtledoves or two pigeons" is a sure sign that the family was not well off but rather quite poor. The Law of Moses states explicitly: "If she cannot afford a sheep, she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering; and the priest shall make atonement on her behalf, and she shall be clean." (Leviticus 12:8). Luke combines the observance of the commandment of Leviticus with the commandment regarding the redemption of the first born son in Exodus 13:2 and 13:11-16. Jesus is like us in all things and so he too must be redeemed just as he was circumcised on the eighth day (cf. Luke 2:21).

In the Temple, they were approached by Simeon, the old man, who was waiting for the consolation of Israel. With him, Anne, the prophetess, represent the people of Israel, awaiting the Messiah. You can read here about Simeon and Anne. They recognized Jesus as the long awaited Messiah and rejoiced. (The term "consolation" of Israel echoes with the verses in Isaiah 40:1ff which begins: "Console, console..."). On this day, with the arrival of the family in order to observe the commandments of the purification of the mother and the redemption of the son, Simeon identifies the baby as that same promised consolation of Israel. The song of Simon, "Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word" is repeated by Christians as part of the prayer before going to sleep until today. Indeed our eyes have seen the salvation of God in Jesus (Luke 2:30, cf. Isaiah 40:5). He is the light to the nations (Luke 2:31, cf. Isaiah 42:6, 49:6) and the glory of Israel (Luke 2:31, cf. Isaiah 46:13).

The feast was celebrated from the fourth century and was called the Feast of the Meeting: the meeting between Jesus and Simeon and Anne, who represent the whole people of Israel. Through them Jesus meets all of humanity too. There is an ancient description of the feast as it was celebrated in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher at the end of the fourth century written by Egeria, the nun who came on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. In the Catholic Church this day is also the feast of all those who have consecrated their lives to the service of God and the Church.

The Hebrew Speaking Catholic community in Jerusalem meets in the house that bears the name Saints Simeon and Anne.