Year B: Feast of the Holy Family Luke 2: 22 – 40
Your Word is near, O Lord our God. Your grace is near. Come to us then, with mildness and power. Do not let us be deaf to you, but make us receptive and open to Jesus Christ your Son, who will come to look for us and save us today and every day forever and ever.
1. Take time to read today’s Gospel. Keep in mind that Luke is teaching, he is not writing a newspaper account. As you read be aware of where this takes place; the characters in the story and who should be there and is not.
2. The venue chosen for this story is the temple. However if we look a little further we will find that “Law of Moses” and “Law of the Lord” is repeated five times and the “Holy Spirit” is mentioned three times. Luke is making us aware of God’s presence in Jesus’ life and in ours. Everybody in the story is aware of God present in the temple and in the events of our lives.
The characters are lay people;
Mary, Joseph and Jesus, Simeon, Anna
I wonder why Luke allows us to discover, to our surprise, that the priests are not present. Note also that that there are two women and two men in the company of the baby, Jesus. Clearly for Luke the complete equality between men and woman is the norm for the following of Jesus.
My way of thinking??
This is the title that I choose for our reading. We, along with Luke’s community, have already been jolted into God’s Presence and given an insight into how God thinks.
“My ways are not your ways.”
There are no people of status present. The Holy Family is classed among the poor. They can only afford to make the offering of the poor; a pair of turtle doves. Anna comes from the tribe of Asher, the smallest and most insignificant of the tribes.
The poor seem to have a special place in the kingdom of our God.
How often have I been among those who failed to see Jesus alive, active and present in the afflicted?
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There are clear parallels between the scene where Simeon is centre stage and that when Anna is the focus of our attention. This repetition must have had great significance for Luke’s audience. Allow the parallels indicted below to touch you. Take each one in turn allowing it to challenge you and ask yourself, “How does this relate to the way I live my life?”
25Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to Israel’s comforting and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he set eyes on the Christ of the Lord. 27Prompted by the Spirit he came to the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the Law required, 28he took him in his arms and blessed God; and he said: 29“Now Master, you can let your servant go in peace, just as you promised; 30because my eyes have seen the salvation 31which you have prepared for all the nations to see, 32a light to enlighten the pagans and the glory of your people Israel.”
36There was a prophetess also, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Ashev. She was well on in years. Her days of girlhood over, she had been married for seven years 37before becoming a widow. She was not eighty-four years old, and never left the temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayer. 38She came by just at that moment and began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.
Example: Anna “began to praise God” while Simeon “blessed God”.
Finally we look at salvation and deliverance.
What does this mean? Perhaps the answer lies a little further on in the gospel.
Luke 4: 18
18The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,
I encourage you to go through the text and mark for yourself every phrase that could refer to the way you would like to live your life. I found eighteen indicators for myself.Keep one of these in your mind during the coming week.
Enter into prayer using the words and sentiments of Ann and Simeon.
Respond to God’s invitation in Luke 4: 18. Tell him how you have done this in your life. Bless God for the way he has lead you to live in this manner and ask his understanding and healing for the times you have not acted in this way.