Gospel Reflection for the Presentation of the Lord Year A – February 2nd 2014
Full scripture for this Sunday is available on the Catholic Ireland website. Daily Scripture is also available. Our parish Prayers of the Faithful for this Sunday are made available on the Dublin Diocesan website.
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.
The elderly around the parish remind me of Simeon and of Anna, elderly figures. They come into the gospel just for a short time, a bit like Joseph, Zechariah and Elizabeth. Each of them has their bit to say about the coming of the Lord, just like each person we meet says something of God. All are witnesses of the patient search for God in their lives. The elderly can give to the church the security of a life-time’s faithfulness and an awareness of God which comes to someone when the time of death seems near.
There’s an unselfishness about Simeon and Anna – all they do is praise God! No big sermon, no big memory trip, no big moral judgment on the rest of us. Prayer often simplifies as we get older. More praise and silence. Or it goes the other way – we get tired of it – same old psalms, same old prayer of St Francis or St Ignatius. Don’t be tired of waiting. Waiting keeps us young, keeps us humble, dependent, and able to be surprised.
Pope Francis – ‘It’s unpleasant to say it, but the elderly are put to one side because they are considered a nuisance. However, the Pope continued, old people are those who tell us the history of things, who carry forward the faith and give it to us to inherit. A society that does not take care for and respect the elderly does not have a future because it doesn’t have memories. They are the treasure of our society.’
Donal Neary SJ