Gospel Reflection Dec 27 – Deacon Don
Sunday, December 27
The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
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 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.
Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family. They were unapologetically Jewish so they followed prescriptions of the Jewish traditions of the time following the birth of a son. While they may seem different to us today, these traditions are not all that unlike what we see from many parents when presenting their baby for Baptism in our own day. The families are proud to come to church. They dote over their little one. They dress them often in gowns with long family histories. They bring other family members (somewhat limited this year in COVID times). Some even live stream and record the Baptism. All of this is a family and joy-filled event that begins a new chapter in that family’s history. So it was for Joseph and Mary in going to the temple. Even though they knew whom they had in this newborn babe, the temple encounters with Simeon and Anna became growing proof of how their lives would be forever changed through their newborn son, Jesus.
Despite both Mary’s and Joseph’s “yes” to the Lord, they will be continually astounded by how so many others break into their lives to acknowledge who Jesus is. The Holy Family lived largely in Scriptural obscurity. We can only presume that Jesus lived the life of a typical Jewish child with periodic reminders to his parents, all was not typical. There would be troubles and difficulties in the future for the Holy Family as well.
During this Christmas Season, in respecting COVID restrictions of limited household gatherings, it is a small price in safeguarding our families. It is but a small sacrifice of temporary separation. We can look to the Holy Family, who left Nazareth to go to Bethlehem, then to Egypt, then to Jerusalem before finally return Nazareth to their family.
Deacon Don Poirier