Gospel Reflection for Sunday February 2nd 2020 The Presentation of the Lord in the Temple
The Prophets Simeon and Anna
By now the Christmas tree is gone and the decorations have been packed away until next year. All the energy, activity and excitement of Christmas is over; now what? Today, in union with the universal Church we celebrate The Presentation of the Lord in the Temple. Today’s Feast is takes place forty day after Christmas. And, it is in a way another ‘Epiphany’, another revelation of God’s presence and promise. Today is often called ‘Candlemas’ as people traditionally bring candles to church to be blessed.
In the gospel today we meet not one, but two prophets. What exactly was a prophet and what did they do? The Prophets were not those who were fortune tellers who could see into or tell the future; quite the opposite; they reminded people about their past. They reminded people about that which they had forgotten and helped them to look forward to things that they had not yet considered. They reminded people that God had always been with them and that God would always be with them. Simeon and Anna remind and tell those listening that God has been faithful to the Covenant, they have not been forgotten; this child is the Messiah, the Promised and Chosen one of God.
Like John the Baptist, both Simeon and Anna have been called by God and filled with the Holy Spirit. They too will lead and point Jesus to others, not themselves. They too are preparing a way for the Lord and preparing others to meet the Messiah.
Both Simeon and Anna are prayerful, waiting and watching people. They are models of patience and trusting faith in God’s promises. They have spent years listening to God word and waiting for God’s revelation and they won’t be disappointed. We already have a hint of this in the first reading from the Prophet Malachi;
‘The Lord you are seeking will suddenly enter his temple; and the angel of the covenant whom you are longing for is coming.’
There are two people in this piece; the promised one who is arriving and the one who is waiting and watching. Anna is one of those who is watching and waiting for this Promised One.
Luke’s gospel is well known for the importance and prominence that it gives to women. They are powerful witnesses and messengers of God’s word; they always have been. Anna is a prophet in her own right. She never left the temple, serving God night and day. She entered the temple just as Mary and Joseph arrived with Jesus. She spoke of Jesus to all those who were looking forward to the liberation of Jerusalem. It is through this elderly, wise, and prayerful woman that God speaks and is revealed. This reminds us that women are powerful witnesses and messengers of God. Think of Mary, Elizabeth, Mary Magdalene and the Woman at the Well, to name just a few.
When given the opportunity, let us not ignore nor neglect this rich and sacred part of our heritage and tradition. Today, in our church and parish communities, may we pay attention to the wise and radical voices of women around us. God called these women and Luke gives equal voice and prominence to women; we would do well to follow their example.
-Br Michael Moore OMI
Gospel for February 2nd : Luke 2:22-40 ©
When the day came for them to be purified as laid down by the Law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord- observing what stands 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 said 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 Israel’s comforting 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 can let your servant go in peace,
just as you promised;
because 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’.
As the child’s father and mother stood there wondering at the things that were being said about him, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘You see this child: he is destined for the fall and for the rising of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is rejected, and a sword will pierce your own soul too so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare’.
There was a prophetess also, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well on in years. Her days of girlhood over, she had been married for seven years before becoming a widow. She was now eighty-four years old and never left the Temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayer. She came by just at that moment and began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.
When they had done everything the Law of the Lord required, they went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. Meanwhile the child grew to maturity, and he was filled with wisdom; and God’s favour was with him.
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