1. Introductory prayer
I calm down and I feel the presence of God in me. I ask for the grace of the Holy Spirit to open the word of God, I accept it and allow it to fulfill my mission in me, in order to become more and more what I am in Holy Trinity. Then I ask God for this prayer, in my own words, or with those that are here…
Lord, you invite me to trust you, even when, by human standards, something seems incomprehensible to me, when I do not understand the meaning. You invite me to trust you, the voice of the Spirit. As trusted by all we meet today in the gospel. They respected the law and at the same time followed the Spirit who surprises. Thus, in their daily lives, a moment of grace was revealed to them, which they could recognize in their faith. And at the same time, they just waited a long time, they didn’t understand. But they believed. You invite me to such faith. Lord, let me, like Simeon, allow you to meet and embrace with you, and in your grace believe in your call.
2. Reading – Listening: – Jesus presented in the Temple – Luke 2 22 40 – Meaning and Commentary
Jesus Presented in the Temple
22 When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”[a]), 24 and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”[b]
25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:
29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss[c] your servant in peace.
30 For my eyes have seen your salvation,
31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”
33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four.[d] She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
39 When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.
3. Thoughts on the Gospel – Jesus presented in the Temple – Luke 2 22 40 – Meaning and Commentary
There are many records of rites and offerings in Genesis. Luke combined the two regulations. The prescription for the purification of the mother is in 3 Mz 12,2-8 and is supposed to take place forty days after birth. Until then, the woman was not allowed to approach the holy places, and the ceremony was accompanied by the offering of a small animal.
The precept of giving for the firstborn is described in Exodus 13: 11-16 and is considered a “ransom” in remembrance of the deliverance from Egypt. A small animal was supposed to be donated.
In this event, it seems that the parents are the ones who donate their son as required by custom. But the encounter with Simeon and Anna shows that it is God who gives the Son for the salvation of men.
Simeon and Anna are persons full of symbolism. Their role is to recognize the expected Messiah after the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. They both lived in the faith of the expectation of the Messiah. Simeon is especially portrayed as someone who is completely swallowed up by waiting, but by the grace of the Spirit lives and addresses the Messiah. Like Mary and Joseph, he follows the law, but also the Spirit who leads him to the child in the temple.
The meaning of Simeon’s life was that he expected and was there at a precise moment. He is now withdrawing so that others can also see the light and salvation coming for Israel and the Gentiles. Anna enriches the event with her age (symbolically, her chronological age 84 is equal to 7×12, the twelve tribes of Israel; or 84 – 7 = 77, ie double perfection), and above all with her way of life (fasting and prayer).
Her pious and purified heart is allowed to be guided by the Spirit. In addition, she belongs to the smallest of the tribes, the Asar tribe. This is a sign that the small and fragile are those who are more able to recognize Jesus, the Savior. Both of the personalities described – who look like the original couple – are a symbol of the best in Judaism, faithful to Jerusalem, waiting, rejoicing, and from now on allowing the glow of a new light.
“And a sword will pierce your own soul too” In general, these words are interpreted as a prophecy of Mary’s suffering and her image as the Sorrowful Mother of God. Even more, Mary as a mother is a symbol of Israel. Simeon feels the coming discord in his people, which will be deeply torn by the living and sharp word of Jesus (Lk 12: 51-53). Mary represents the path of trust. In it, she will go through times of pain and darkness, of struggles and painful silences. The story of the suffering Messiah will be painful for everyone, including his mother.
Man cannot follow the new light of the world without being challenged to make risky choices without being born again and again. But these images of the “sword that pierces” should not be viewed without the important actions of these two characters: Simeon takes the child in his arms and thus shows that faith is an encounter and an embrace, not an idea or a theory. Ana takes on the role of proclaiming a shining light in the hearts of all who “rejoiced”.
It is interesting to note that the whole scene emphasizes the most simple and homely situations: a young couple with a child in their arms; an old man who rejoices and embraces, and an old woman who prays and proclaims, and those who listen and are indirectly involved. In the end, there is also a view of the village of Nazareth, of the growth of a child in wisdom in a normal environment.
4. Meditation – thinking
About everything I have read and what has touched me, I am thinking now. I let my thoughts also touch my heart. Think:
- God appears to the small and fragile, in everyday events. How is God’s action manifested to me these days?
- Mary and Joseph returned the gift to the Giver. Anna and Simeon also testify to how they grew in faith and freedom. What does God invite me to give to Him?
- If I trust the Spirit and believe the call, what graces does God promise me?
5. Personal Prayer
In the next moments of silence, I talk about this with Jesus. I tell him what I think, what I feel, what I want. I ask him for the grace that I need for … (make your conversation with God).
6. Contemplation – Quiet moment with God
Now I let silence be in me. I am simply present in God, as He is quietly present in me. Perhaps from this silence, I hear God’s speech, which invites me perhaps in thanksgiving and worship or to open myself and accept him in my path life and work, maybe He gives me the courage to continue searching for…
When I walk into a personal relationship with God, he changes me, makes me more loving, and encourages me to the concrete action, which is….. (write down your insights for concrete action).
8. Review of my prayer meditation or reflection
This is my view on what was happening in me at the time, I spent praying. In my reflection, I can help myself with the following questions:
- How was I feeling when I started praying?
- What happened during the prayer?
- What feelings and thoughts could I detect in myself?
- How did I feel about the revelations, which I had during my prayer?
- What did I learn about myself, about God, about his attitude towards me and others, and me to him and others?
- How did I finish my prayer?
- What did I receive for my everyday life?
- In the end, I can write the lessons, findings, and insights. I can write also, where I had problems, they may have great value in learning about my relationship and myself with God. They can also help to find a more appropriate way of prayer for me.
- Then I thank the Holy Trinity. If I pray with my family or in the community, friends, I can share with them what I felt in this prayer. With a prayer for one another, you can support yourself throughout the week.
Lectio Divina meditations are published and adapted with permission from the Jesuits home – ignacijevdom.si
Text from the Bible – New International Version (KJV)