Echoes of the Word 2nd February 2017
At Jesus’s Presentation, Malachi’s prophecy (the first reading for the feast) is fulfilled: ‘The Lord you are seeking will suddenly enter his Temple’. Simeon was among those who were seeking the Lord, awaiting ‘Israel’s consolation’. So too were the other simple, humble people of Luke’s infancy narratives: Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, Zechariah, Anna. Luke’s Gospel speaks of ‘consolation’ on two other occasions: 1) when Jesus warns that, while the poor will inherit the Kingdom, the rich have already received their consolation; 2) in the parable about Lazarus, where the pauper is finally consoled in heaven while the rich man finds himself separated from God. In both cases, it is the poor and lowly who receive God’s consolation and salvation. Similarly, when Simeon prophesies that Jesus will bring ‘the fall and the rising of many in Israel’, he is echoing Mary’s proclamation: ‘He has put down the mighty and exalted the lowly, filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty.’ Only those who have not set their expectations on earthly goods and status are able to receive God’s consolation; they shall stand while others fall (cf. Malachi: ‘Who will remain standing when he appears?’) Those who give up seeking God and set their hopes elsewhere may gain some temporary satisfaction but ultimately are left empty. Those who wait patiently for God and hope in him with simplicity of heart will see his consoling light and know the peace which Simeon knew. Moreover, they will then become joyful prophetic voices, like Mary, Zechariah, Simeon and Anna, proclaiming that Light to others: ‘Anna began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who were waiting expectantly for the redemption of Jerusalem.’
A monk of Ampleforth
“..observing what stands written in the Law of the Lord..in accordance with what is said in the Law..do for him what the Law required..when they had done everything the Law of the Lord required”..our ground zero in our faith is the Law.. a set of guidelines spoken heard written retranslated grown on, heard again & again, echoing down the centuries..as alive relevant & active today as its ever been..but it is not complete in itself..it is part of the story & of the journey..ground zero, a foundation on which to build your life & its twin towers, faith & good works..scripture, the written Law, & Pope Francis’ guidelines, his exhortation [plea] “the Joy of the Gospel” is like an entry in highway code, advising pedestrians when they get to edge of pavement, to look right then left..its prescription, its plea, explained understood & not merely obeyed or complied with, but valued..a gentle guideline towards self awareness care & protectionism, as you become an increasingly self assured as pedestrian & disciple..faith & good works..word [letter & plea] & action [a volunteering presence & prayer]..Simeon & Anna..both then & now..your Simeon & your Anna..& what of you & me?..we too, like them, are called to grow into becoming both..part of you a Simeon..he & you custodians caretakers of the faith..in the letter & spirit of Catholicism, protective of the truth, generous in explaining what you have come to believe & understand of it..& part of you an Anna..the wise elder, now alone..full of experience & story..then & still now, sought after, consulted by front line active disciples, to give the extra ingredient that ensures success or an answer..prayer..a lady of profound faith..it reminds me of my Anna..called Mary, lived in Brownedge where I served 12yrs ago..a retired schoolteacher, lived alone in a cottage she kept spotless..a daily Mass goer until ill health set in..I took her Communion weekly..no longer able to keep up to cottage, she lived in one room in squalor..one item she kept spotless, a statue of Our Lady & child Jesus..every time I went to see her, always a lighted candle in front of statue..I would ask “Mary who is the candle for today?” she would recount 4/5 stories of needs & thanksgivings..folk near & far who had asked for, believed in & relied upon, her prayers ..my Anna Mary & the Anna Mary of your family & this parish..the engine room of all we are & all we do..on this feast of Our Lords Presentation, we give thanks for the Simeons & Anna’s in whom our faith life depends..background disciples, John the Baptists, showing telling & praying, & then getting out of the way to give Christ & you the limelight..“..& Gods favour was with him..” & now it is with you..enjoy the light & the favour..
Fr Bede Leach OSB