In the constellation of Orion there are three tiny stars that make up the sword of Orion. The middle one is barely visible to the naked eye. Yet this is the Great Orion Nebula described in a catalogue of deep sky objects as: Orion Nebula Messier 42 (M42, NGC 1976) is the brightest starforming, and the brightest diffuse nebula in the sky, and also one of the brightest deepsky objects at all. Shining with the brightness of a star of 4th magnitude, it visible to the naked eye under moderately good conditions, and rewarding in telescopes of every size, from the smallest glasses to the greatest Earth-bound observatories as well as outer-space observatories like the Hubble Space Telescope.
It is not too far away either. Rob Jeffries at Keele University has deduced that it is ‘only about 1,300 light years distant’. What an amazing phenomenon of light, power and glory. What a reminder of our finitude and what a privilege to be part of that beauty!
Fra Angelico gives us a different aspect of light, power and glory. Central to his portrayal of the Preentation are Simeon and the child Jesus. The old man and the babe look into each other’s eye. Simeon’s regard displays tenderness. He is holding Love in his arms. Jesus looks back with love for this man who has believed in him even before he was born.
The whole picture quivers with light as it accompanies the Song of Simeon:
Lord now lettest Thou thy servant depart in peace
According to thy word
For mine eyes have seen the salvation
Which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people
To be a light to lighten the gentiles
And to be the glory of thy people Israel
Fr John CR