A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke (Lk 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 hearts 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 worshiped 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.
Good News Reflection:
Preparatory Prayer:Lord, I believe you came down from heaven and became a child for love of me. I believe you are my hope and strength. Increase my faith and hope so that fears, trials and crosses will not conquer me, but that I will conquer them with the help of your grace.
Petition:Lord, give me the grace to see my life through the eyes of faith, hope and love, and to embrace my cross generously.
1. Gods’ Promise Fulfilled
Simeon, like all devout Jews of the time, believed in the triumph of the people of Israel, even though this faith appeared bleak. The Romans had conquered and now ruled over the entire civilized world. Gentiles worshipped foreign gods. Pagan beliefs and practices flourished and Jews succumbed in large numbers to their customs. Even many scribes and Pharisees were found wanting in justice, mercy and good faith. God’s promise alone sustained Simeon’s faith:
Against all hope, God promised descendants to Abraham, as the fruit of faith and of the power of the Holy Spirit. In Abraham’s progeny all the nations of the earth will be blessed. This progeny will be Christ himself, in whom the outpouring of the Holy Spirit will “gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.” God commits himself by his own solemn oath to giving his beloved Son and “the promised Holy Spirit… [who is ] the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it”(Catechism of the Catholic Church 706).
Simeon had the faith to see God’s promise fulfilled in the small child brought before him: “Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation…”
2. A Sign of Contradiction“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…” Imagine the sorrow this caused in Mary’s heart – to know that her son’s future would be one of suffering and rejection. Although this was true, she never allowed her faith and love to be shaken.
“We must advance, whatever the cost, unless we want to leave unaccomplished our endeavors for the glory of God. But we must admit that at times it is very painful to advance constantly and in spite of everything. Above all, there are times when we could say everyone and everything has united to oppose us. Apparent failure seems imminent, we lack everything …. We are about to lay down our arms and turn back …. At this moment we must bravely raise the standard of the cross once again, realizing that we are not alone, that there are many others who, like us, are on the battlefield . We should push on fearlessly in faith, in trust …. If we could only exercise our faith! If you have faith you will hope, and if you hope you will be master of yourself. So in your hour of struggle: acceptance … silence … peace …. God’s hour will come”(Father Marcial Maciel, LC).
3. Sword of Sorrow“…and you yourself a sword will pierce – so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” A sword pierced Mary’ heart in many ways, but most especially during the passion and death of Jesus. The Gospel tells us that she was there at the foot of the cross watching as her son suffered the excruciating pain of crucifixion. Contemplate this or any other passage of the passion account through the eyes of Mary. See with what love she embraces the Father’s will and is aware of her own role in the redemption of the world, united to Christ. She believed the words of Simeon; that in her own suffering the thoughts of many hearts would be revealed. No sooner had Christ died than she heard the soldier’s words: “Surely this was the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54).
Dialogue with Christ:Lord Jesus, St. Paul invites us to make up for what was lacking in the suffering of Christ. I know I am called to offer my own sufferings to his for the redemption of the world. The Blessed Mother shows me the way, remaining close to her Son at the foot of the cross. Help me to accept my daily sufferings with faith and love.
Resolution:I will make acts of faith, hope and love today in the moments of trial in order to share in the redemptive sufferings of Christ.
Fr. Marcial Maciel, LC