Note: These Sunday & Holy Day Gospel Reflections are written so that mothers may prepare for Holy Mass in advance either as a small group or individually (especially since we are so often necessarily distracted during Mass itself).
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 Christ 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.
This Advent, like never before, I finally grasped the concept that the Jewish people were waiting a very, very long time for their Savior, just like Simeon. My children and I were able to reflect on the prophecies of Isaiah and Micah, reminding me of this time of preparation before Jesus was born. Sometimes, we might feel we are waiting a very long time for Christ's Second Coming, and I am grateful that is part of the point of Advent.
Simeon and Anna wait along with all of God's people for hundreds and hundreds of years. Some of God's people apparently became disillusioned with their wait, but not Simeon and Anna. Simeon is described as a righteous man who was intimate with the Holy Spirit. Anna was a prophetess, also intimate with the Spirit of God, and known for non-stop prayer and fasting.
My prayer and fasting is certainly not non-stop, but I do long desperately to be more intimate with the Holy Spirit. Like the Jews waiting for Christ, however, I sometimes become disillusioned, which results in a distance from God, marking my prayers and sacrifices almost robotically, certainly without a true sense of the Spirit.
It is during such times of darkness (whether they last for days or months) that I eventually realize I, too, am waiting for the light. I must continue to empty myself, so that when I am ready, the Holy Spirit has room to dwell. I believe these times of purification are pleasing to the Lord, and interestingly, they are the easiest times for me to completely surrender to His will.
Like Simeon and Anna, we wait, but for the Second Coming. While we wait, we must believe that He will come and be ready at any moment, like those virgins waiting for the bridegroom who bring extra oil for their lamps. Our sanctification comes through how well we prepare for Christ's Return, how intimate we are with the Holy Spirit now, and how fully we allow Him to fill our emptiness.
The Holy Season of Christmas gives me an opportunity to reflect on how prepared I am for that final day of judgment. Jesus Christ was born and is here among us, but He will come again. In what ways am I failing in my preparations for Him? How can I be sure no prayer or sacrifice is wasted? What do I need to do to help my family become a holy family, modeled after Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, ready for Christ to come?