“When Mary let Simeon take the Son of the Promise into his arms, the old man began to sing – celebrating a true “liturgy” – he sings his dreams.”
This weekend the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord (February 2nd) takes liturgical precedence over 4th Sunday of Ordinary Time. Listen carefully for references in today’s prayers and scripture readings.
The Gospel reminds us that Mary and Joseph were devout Jews raising their Son according to the Law. “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.” Luke 2:22. We are introduced to Anna and Simeon whose significance is highlighted by the fact that they are named. Simeon takes the infant Jesus in his arms and sings:
“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.” Luke 2:29-32
After writing several different drafts of this Liturgical Note I read Pope Francis’ Homily for the Feast of the Presentation XXI World of Consecrated Life (2017). While The Holy Father directs this homily to those living the consecrated life, his words extend to all people of faith. His words make my heart sing. I hope they do similarly for you.
Simeon’s canticle is the hymn of the believer, who at the end of his days can exclaim: “It is true, hope in God never disappoints” (cf. Rm 5:5)....Simeon and Anna, in their old age, were capable of a new fruitfulness, and they testify to this in song. Life is worth living in hope, because the Lord keeps his promise. Taking up the dreams of our elders... will protect us from a temptation that can make our consecrated life barren: the temptation of survival......making..us reactionaries, fearful, slowly and silently shutting ourselves up in our houses and in our own preconceived notions. It makes us look back, to the glory days – days that are past – and rather than rekindling the prophetic creativity born of our founders’ dreams, it looks for shortcuts in order to evade the challenges knocking on our doors today. A survival mentality robs our charisms of power, because it leads us to “domesticate” them, to make them “user-friendly”, robbing them of their original creative force. It makes us want to protect spaces, buildings and structures, rather than to encourage new initiatives. The temptation of survival makes us forget grace; it turns us into professionals of the sacred but not fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters of that hope to which we are called to bear prophetic witness. An environment of survival withers the hearts of our elderly, taking away their ability to dream. In this way, it cripples the prophecy that our young are called to proclaim and work to achieve.
Blessed to be in ministry with you at St. Mary’s