1) Opening prayer
God, Father of light,
the old man Simeon recognized your Son
as the light that would shine on all.
May we too recognize Jesus,
even if he comes to us in a humble way,
in the shape and person of children,
of old people, of the poor and the little ones.
Make us receive him too
as the light not only of our lives
but as the bright dawn for all nations.
For you are the Father of all
and Jesus belongs to all as their Saviour and Lord,
now and for ever.
2) Gospel Reading – Luke 2, 22-35
And when the day came for them to be purified in keeping with the Law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord - observing what is written in the Law of the Lord: Every first-born male must be consecrated to the Lord - and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is prescribed in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was an upright and devout man; he looked forward to the restoration 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 until he had set eyes on the Christ of the Lord. Prompted 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, he took him into his arms and blessed God; and he said:
Now, Master, you are letting your servant go in peace as you promised;
for my eyes have seen the salvation
which you have made ready in the sight of the nations;
a light of revelation for the gentiles and glory for your people Israel.
As the child's father and mother were wondering at the things that were being said about him, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, 'Look, he is destined for the fall and for the rise of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is opposed - and a sword will pierce your soul too - so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.'
• The first two chapters of the Gospel of Luke are not a history according to the meaning that we give to history. They rather serve more than everything else, as a mirror in which the converted Christians from Paganism, discover that Christ had come to fulfil the prophecies of the Old Testament and to respond to the more profound aspirations of the human heart. They are then, symbol and mirror of what was happening among the Christians at the time of Luke. The communities coming from Paganism were born from the communities of converted Jews, but they were diverse. The New did not correspond to what the Old imagined and expected. It was a “sign of contradiction” (Lk 2, 34), it caused tension and it was a source of great suffering, of pain. In the attitude of Mary the image of the People of God, Luke represents a model of how to persevere in the New, without being unfaithful to the Old.
• In these two chapters of the Gospel of Luke, everything turns around the birth of the two children: John and Jesus. The two chapters make us feel the perfume of the Gospel of Luke. In them, the environment is one of tenderness and of praise. From the beginning to the end, there is praise and singing, because, finally, the mercy of God has been revealed in Jesus; he fulfils the promises made to the Fathers. And God fulfils them in behalf of the poor, of the anawim, like Elizabeth and Zechariah, Mary and Joseph, Anne and Simeon, the shepherds. All of them knew how to wait for his coming.
• The insistence of Luke in saying that Mary and Joseph fulfilled everything which the Law prescribes, recalls what Paul writes in the Letter to the Galatians: “When the completion of the time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born a subject of the Law, to redeem the subjects of the Law so that we could receive adoption as sons” (Gal 4, 4-5).
• The story of the old Simeon teaches that hope, even if not immediately, will be realized some day. It is not frustrated, it is realized. But the way does not always correspond to what we imagine. Simeon was waiting for the glorious Messiah of Israel. Going to the Temple in the midst of many couples who were taking their child, he sees the realization of his hope and of the hope of the People: “My eyes have seen the salvation, which you have made ready in the sight of the nations, a light of revelation for the Gentiles and glory for your People Israel”.
• In the text of today’s Gospel, we have the preferred themes of Luke, that is, a strong insistence on the action of the Holy Spirit, on prayer and on the prayer environment, a continuous attention to the action and participation of the women and a constant concern for the poor and of the message for the poor.
4) Personal questions
• Would you be capable to perceive in a poor child the light to enlighten the nations?
• Would you be capable of waiting your whole life for the realization of your hope?
5) Concluding Prayer
Sing a new song to Yahweh!
Sing to Yahweh, all the earth!
Sing to Yahweh, bless his name!
Proclaim his salvation day after day. (Ps 96,1-2)