Gospel: Lk 2:22-35
When the day came for the purification according to the law of Moses, they brought the baby up to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord, as it is written in the law of the Lord: Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to God. And they offered a sacrifice, as ordered in the law of the Lord: a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons. There lived in Jerusalem, at this time, a very upright and devout man named Simeon; the Holy Spirit was in him. He looked forward to the time when the Lord would comfort Israel; and he had been assured, by the Holy Spirit, that he would not die before seeing the Messiah of the Lord. So, he was led into the temple by the Holy Spirit at the time the parents brought the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law. Simeon took the child in his arms and blessed God, saying, ”Now, O Lord, you can dismiss your servant in peace, for you have fulfilled your word and my eyes have seen your salvation, which you display for all the people to see. Here is the light you will reveal to the nations, and the glory of your people Israel.” His father and mother wondered at what was said about the child. Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother, ”Know this: your son is a sign; a sign established for the falling and rising of many in Israel, a sign of contradiction; and a sword will pierce your own soul, so that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.”
The Holy Family was a Jewish family and both Jesus and his parents are shown as faithfully carrying out the requirements of the Law. According to the Mosaic law (Lev 12:2- 8), a woman who gave birth to a boy is neither not allowed to touch anything sacred for 40 days nor could she enter the Temple precincts because of her ritual ”impurity”. At the end of this period, she was required to offer a 1-year-old lamb as a burnt offering and a turtle dove or a young pigeon as expiation for sin. Those who could not afford the lamb could offer two birds instead. This offering of two pigeons tells us that Joseph and Mary are poor. Jesus begins his life in concert with the poor whose cry and dreams will be the center of his ministry and mission. The parents also presented their first-born son as an offering to the Lord, again in accordance with Jewish law (Ex.13:2,12). When Joseph and Mary present Jesus to the Lord in Jerusalem, they are in effect dedicating his life to God. Jesus will be ”holy to the Lord.” Jesus‘ life is for God. In closing his account of this passage, Luke establishes that Mary and Joseph ”accomplished all things that were according to the law of the Lord” – another sign of their faithfulness to the law. Luke‘s words portray a picture of hope, innocence and adult concern for the infant Jesus. But in juxtaposing this text with some of today‘s facts and realities about children, the biblical passage stresses the importance of setting the right conditions for children to grow and how parents have a great responsibility of forming their children to become responsible adults. We are challenged to meditate on the following questions: What expectations do we have for our children as they grow toward adulthood? What are our hopes for them? What protection and guidance do we offer them so hopes and expectations can be realized for their flourishing? How do we utilize the resources of our faith communities to support children? What responsibilities do all adults have for children, regardless of whether or not they are related to them by blood or marriage?
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