The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Let’s repolish the precious pearl

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 …. 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 …. She was advanced in years …. 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. Lk 2,22-38

The law of Moses prescribed that, forty days after the birth of their first-born son, the parents had to go to the temple in Jerusalem to offer the baby to the Lord and for the purification of the mother. In the today’s gospel, Mary and Joseph, going to the temple to fulfill the rule of the law, meet these two peculiar characters: the old Simeon, “righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel” and the prophetess Anna,  equally old, who “never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer”.These are the two ways to age for the person of faith: not to get tired of waiting for the answers which the life has not yet given and to serve God and the neighbor, alternating the service with fasting and prayer. The first aspect prevails in the old Simeon, the second in the prophetess Anna. This is what is happening to us in these wonderful years, at the end of a life full of children and commitments, which the Lord grants us to spend close one to the other. This diversity of spiritual tensions is common in the married couples which , after a lifetime of family and professional commitments, age together. However, if lived in communion of faith, this appears to be positive because they help each other in the aspects in which they are weakest. We have found the precious pearl since time, but in the long series of commitments and things to be done, it had lost some gloss. So these years, relatively more quiet, allow us to polish it a bit, to find again its original splendor. As for the future, our thinking reflects that of Paul: “For to me life is Christ, and death is gain. If I go on living in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. And I do not know which I shall choose. I am caught between the two. I long to depart this life and be with Christ, (for) that is far better. Yet that I remain (in) the flesh is more necessary for your benefit. And this I know with confidence, that I shall remain and continue in the service of all of you for your progress and joy in the faith” (Phil 1,21-25). So be it.

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