Today’s Feast and Gospel brings us a number of different things to reflect upon.
St. Luke highlights how the family of Jesus were devout and pious in their Jewish faith. They bring Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem to fulfil what was required of them according to the Law of Moses: “that every first born male must be consecrated to the Lord and also to offer in sacrifice, in accordance with what is said in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.
Whilst in the Temple Simeon and Anna are introduced, who are very much like old Testament figures, in order to emphasise the continuity of the promises of Israel with what is being done to Jesus. For Luke Simeon and Anna represent the law and the prophets; Simeon the Law and Anna the Prophets of Israel. Jesus is the fulfilment of both and something more: the bringer of God’s love and Salvation to the nations.
Simeon’s canticle, which is read in the night prayer of the Church every day, captures an essential point of Luke’s Gospel. Jesus, from the people of Israel will be God’s light to the nations: “my eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared for all the nations to see, a light to enlighten the pagans and the glory of your people Israel”.
Luke also gives a premonition of how the mission of Jesus will bring both suffering and salvation. And Mary herself will suffer personally. “You see this child: he is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected – and a sword will pierce your own soul too – that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare”.
The sign that is rejected is the same today. As the Gospel is proclaimed and Jesus is revealed as the “Light” in the darkness, all are called to respond, to ignore or reject the sign is to choose to live in the dark. To recognise Jesus as the “Light” to enlighten the gentiles is to choose to dwell in the light and to be set free from….the fear of death.
“Happy New Year!”