Lk 2: 22-40
When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”
And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.” There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day.
At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. When they had finished everything required by 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.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Utter trust in God
Three Gospels show us the real Holy Family. Last year, we contemplated the Flight into Egypt from a king seeking to kill Jesus; next year we will find Jesus in the Temple, teaching the teachers in his own Father’s house. This year seems gentlest, with the Presentation in the Temple and Simeon’s joyful acclamation. But yesterday, Stephen was stoned to death; tomorrow the Holy Innocents will be slaughtered. The real Holy Family lived through difficult, anxiety-ridden times. Reality burned away any false piety. They had to trust, hard, in God who was protecting and guiding them in situations they could neither understand nor control. In the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius wants retreatants to see that, even from his birth, Jesus will lead a life of great hardship, ending in terrible death, for us. This utter trust in God, within a hard life, makes families holy. In this family, the child grew strong.
—Fr. Stephen Yavorsky, SJ, is the parochial vicar at St. Francis Xavier Parish and a staff member at the Ignatian Spirituality Center in Kansas City, MO. He spent six years in Rwanda, and founded the Ignatian Spirituality Program in Denver.
Joseph and Mary, you were amazed at all that Simeon said of Jesus: that he was the salvation prepared for all people, and that he would be their light and glory. Mary, you learned your heart would be pierced by the rejection of your Son. Intercede for all families, for their unshakeable trust in God, that their own lives may add to the brightness of your Son. Amen.
—Fr. Stephen Yavorsky, SJ