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The Feast of the Holy Family



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.

Introductory Prayer: 

 

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.

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, once more I have to remember who you really are: the Son of God, a divine person but man as well, Perfect Man, and now at the beginnings of your life on earth, an infant. Anna and Simeon let the Holy Spirit enlighten and guide them, it is only with the help of your Spirit that I can enter into this mystery and learn from you. I place all my trust in you, in your love.

Petition: Grant me the grace that will enable me to open my heart to you, to discover you in my life, and to freely embrace you and place you at the center of my life.

1. "According to the Law of Moses, They Took Him Up to Jerusalem to Present Him to the Lord." The surest sign of adherence to God is the obedience of faith (see CCC, #143; Romans 1:5). No woman was more pure than the Virgin Mary, herself immaculately conceived, who had become the Mother of God. She was full of grace, neither subject to sin nor to judgment by the commandments (John 3:18). She even carried the Son of God in her arms. Mary did not exempt herself, however, from observing God's will as expressed through the law of Moses commanding her purification. In fact, her obedience was the proof of her purity of heart.

There is another beautiful message here. Jesus, on coming into the world said to his Father, I come to do your will. It was the Father’s will that every firstborn male should be consecrated to the Lord. Now, to do this of his own accord was impossible to Jesus given the limitations of his humanity for he was still an infant, and Mary and Joseph are the ones who make it possible for Jesus to carry out his desire. Jesus in a very real way, places the fulfillment of his desires in the hands of two human people. From the very first moments of his life here on earth, he depends on those who love him to understand his wishes and make them happen. In a very real way Jesus is in our hands, and it is up to us to ask of him where he wants to go, who he wants to touch, and then help him do it.

2. "Simeon Took Him into His Arms and Blessed God." Every Christian joins in the profession of faith: We believe in the Holy Spirit ... He has spoken through the prophets. The Holy Spirit already prompted men and women like Simeon and Anna to hope in salvation from sin, whether for those who had already received revelation or for those who did not yet know God. This anticipation of the life of grace caused them to act with a righteousness that exceeded the strict letter of the law. Anna was not obliged to consecrate her life to prayer as a widow, nor was Simeon obliged to enter the temple that day, nor take the child Jesus into his arms and bless him. The Holy Spirit called them into communion with God’s very life.

By Baptism, I am regenerated in Christ, I receive the Holy Spirit, and I am called to share in his prophetic and priestly mission (see CCC, #1215; #1268). By allowing the Holy Spirit free rein to prompt and lead us, removing any obstacle to his action, any attachment that could distract us or effectively close down our heart to him, is how we work our own salvation with God’s grace and how we participate in the salvation of our fellowmen. The Holy Spirit invites me to ask for Christ to come into my soul, to adore, bless and thank him, to search for his face and learn his life in the Gospel, and to lead others to discover his presence by my word and deed.

3. "The Child Grew and Became Strong." Because Mary and Joseph were obedient, the Father entrusted his Son to their care. Through their own obedience to God, God dwelt with them, while their descendents in faith receive this grace and wisdom as their inheritance.

The Holy Family is a foretelling of what Christ later promises every believer: Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him ... The Advocate, the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you (John 14:23,26). Christ has come to us in Baptism, we receive him into our souls so frequently in Holy Communion and the many times we ask him in prayer to come to us. Here again Joseph and Mary are an example to us: Jesus wants to grow and become strong in us. The way St Paul puts it is, It’s no longer me but Christ who lives in me. That is where all our prayer and actions should be heading, towards our growth in Christ, and towards Christ’s presences, attitudes and active love being ever more evident in our lives.

Conversation: Lord Jesus, I believe that you call me to enter into your presence, to adore and bless you, to thank you by bearing witness to your love to others. Strengthen the obedience of my faith. Teach me to trust those who care for the life of my soul. Lead me in wisdom and knowledge so that my whole life may give homage to your eternal love. Let me gain salvation by leading others to your mercy.

Questionnaire:

1. How aware am I of the trust Jesus has placed in me as a baptized Christian to bring him to others?

2. Am I recognizable as a Christian in my daily life?

3. Is Christ growing stronger and becoming more a part of me over time?

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