Sunday December 27, The Feast of the Holy Family

Gospel of Luke 2:22-40

My eyes have seen your salvation

When the day came for them to be purified as laid down by the Law of Moses, the parents of Jesus 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.

This is another beautiful Gospel for Imaginative Contemplation. St Ignatius invites us to enter into the scene and use all our senses.

What do I see? What do I hear? What do I taste? What do I touch? What do I smell?

Who am I drawn to in the scene? Do I find myself as one of the characters?

As a follower of Mary Ward and her companions I am reminded to keep Jesus at the centre of my prayer.

Where is Jesus in my imaginative contemplation? I notice my feelings and heart beat, and keep aware of what is happening in me throughout my contemplation.

I might find myself focused on one of the clearly marked scenes that the Gospel writer Luke gives us.

Naming of Jesus

Presentation of Jesus

Simeon’s Song Nunc Dimittis

Simeon’s Blessing

Anna’s Blessing

and finally

The hidden life of Jesus – I imagine the childhood of Jesus. Can I imagine myself as child with him?

In his Christmas message this year, Pope Francis invites us to remember that we are one family.

“At this moment in history, marked by the ecological crisis and grave economic and social imbalances only worsened by the coronavirus pandemic, it is all the more important for us to acknowledge one another as brothers and sisters,” he said in his “Urbi et Orbi” (“to the city and the world”) message.