December 27, 2020: The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
Gospel: Luke 2:22-40
When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord, and to offer the sacrifice of a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons, in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”
The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted – and you yourself a sword will pierce – so that the thoughts of many may be revealed.”
There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshipped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.
When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.
Imagine yourself standing in the temple area and seeing this young couple come in with their new baby. They’re coming to complete a ritual of the law of Moses. Something about them captures your attention. Maybe you remember when you brought your oldest son to complete the same ritual. You are surprised to see Simeon take the baby into his arms. Simeon prays aloud.
You realize that Simeon feels God has promised him he would not die until he had seen the Messiah. When Simeon goes on to tell this young mother her baby “is destined to be a sign that is contradicted,” and that she herself would feel pain like a sword piercing her, you are amazed and full of questions, wondering what it all means.
Then the very old Anna shows up and starts talking to everyone about how special this child is. By this time, you are asking yourself, “have I seen the Messiah?” The feelings of wonder and confusion have you rooted to the spot. As you stand there, you feel tenderness for the baby and parents, you wonder if your life will change. You think about whom you will tell and whether you’ll be believed. The couple moves on, completes the ritual and starts home as if nothing has happened.
This is Holy Family Sunday. Write a short, one sentence prayer that you can repeat to yourself over and over again in the midst of family activities, when you leave your family and when you come back to them.