The Gospel according to 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 Messiah 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.
Reflection: Imagine watching a movie or binging an entire season of a show you have wanted to see. You get to the part where the hero is revealed and his mission to save the victims of the story is made clear. You would expect to see how the hero does it, usually in some spectacular fashion. But instead, the story slows down considerably and you have to wait to see what happens.
In Luke’s first two chapters we follow the story of Jesus from his annunciation to his birth and now his presentation in the temple. The long awaited messiah who had been prophesied in the Hebrew Scriptures has entered His creation and is now among us. Rather than focus on the events and proclamations in the temple I invite us to look at the last two verses in today’s gospel. Basically, they say the Holy Family went home to live their lives and Jesus grew up. Of course we know he was no ordinary child, he was the son of God. So then why did he need to advance in wisdom and favor before God. Because he was fully human. He became like us in all ways except sin.
In the next verse Jesus is now twelve. What happened in the years in between. Again, what this gospel tells us is that he, “grew and became strong, filled with wisdom and the favor of God was upon him.” This large gap leaves a lot to the imagination. I could picture many scenes, in my mind, where Jesus as a toddler exhibits some sign of his divinity. As a young boy, maybe he heals animals or preforms other miracles that go unnoticed and continues to become who God intended him to be. Think about your own childhood and consider how you grew in strength and wisdom. Each one of us has a mission. Each one of us was given the opportunity to grow in a unique way so that one day we might be ready to fulfill our mission, to bloom where we are planted. What will we do with the gift of the rest of our lives? Continue to grow, serve, sacrifice, and love so that the favor of God may come upon us as well.
Action of the Day: In prayer or contemplation use your imagination to picture Jesus as a young boy. What was he like? Did he play with other children? What was his smile like? What did his laugh sound like? Imagine him growing up and figuring things out with the guidance of Mary and Joseph. Enjoy this time with the saviour of the world in the humility of his humanity.