In a moment, anytime today we will be hearing loud bangs and celebrations coming across the world as we close this year’s chapter. A few days ago, we were also delighted at how we joyously celebrated Christmas Day and how we also stood in solidarity with those who were unable to do so because of the many struggles they were facing.
Advent time as is celebrated in the Philippines is occasionally and incidentally during almost the end of the year. This somehow gives us the chance to (1) look back and remember God’s goodness and faithfulness in our lives that delivered and sustained us through the year. (2) assess ourselves on what went well, what we need to change or focus on, and what might be our next steps offering ourselves as living testimony of the Emmanuel.
This day also gives us the same spirit and challenge of how we remember EPIPHANY. Epiphany which is the revealing of God through Christ who became man and fulfilled the promise of salvation, hope, peace, joy, and love.
GOSPEL READING (Luke 2:22-40)
Today’s Gospel Reading is an event known as the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple or the Purification of Mary. According to Jewish law (Leviticus 12:2-8), a woman who gave birth to a male child was considered unclean for seven days, after which the child was circumcised on the eighth day. After the days of her purification were completed, the mother would bring an offering to the temple.
Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple in obedience to these laws. The dedication involved offering a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.
What about Simeon and Anna?
Simeon and Anna represent devout Jews who were eagerly awaiting the fulfillment of God’s promises of consolation and redemption for Israel. Their recognition of Jesus as the Messiah reflects the expectation and hope that many devout Jews had during that time for the coming of the Redeemer.
The dedication at the temple marks an early episode in the life of Jesus, emphasizing his connection to Jewish traditions and the fulfillment of messianic prophecies. Simeon’s words, often referred to as the Nunc Dimittis, express a sense of fulfillment and readiness for what Jesus will accomplish in terms of salvation and redemption.
Christ’s coming gives the people of his time an immense promise of hope for what is now and what is next to come. People made great preparations for how we welcome this Savior who is also a symbol and a promise of liberation. Most of the time and in reality, this promise of hope is not easily felt especially for those who experience injustice, persecution, oppression discrimination, and abuse. Those who were in the midst of war, like the people of Gaza and other parts of Palestine. Those who have no option but to fight till the very end to have a decent living that will sustain their families, like the Filipino Jeepney drivers who to this day are facing the threat of Jeepney Phaseout and are waiting and holding on to the last line of their hope, struggling to be sent forth with victory and peace. And we know for sure that there are many other challenges in the Philippines and other parts of the world that to this day we continue to struggle with.
The question: How can we celebrate and welcome the new year with these sufferings? How can we fully experience a future with hope even amid uncertainty?
With all these overwhelming realities, we may not have all the solutions and answers but we are reminded of our readings today to…
-Present ourselves as testaments of this promised Messiah who will not keep silent from all sufferings of others. (Isaiah 61:10-62:3)
– Embody the act of praise through our active prayer, worship, and discernment of personal relationship with God not undermining the social relationship with God expressed through bold witness, active mission, and service. These are divine and prophetic ministries championed by Jesus, the Messiah, which is the central theme of his coming, living, dying, and resurrection. (Psalm 148)
-Remember that the fulfillment of hope, love, joy, and peace will be fulfilled and realized if we always choose to live out Christ’s example: rising above our individualism, putting love at the center (loving God and loving our neighbor) as children and as one body of Christ. (Galatians 4:4-7)
Now as we move on to the year 2024, may today’s message be a constant reminder and challenge to be echoed into our homes and across the world. May it speak to us and remind us that the emancipation of the reign of God moves us to walk in justice, righteousness, and peace. That we may always choose to do good and walk humbly standing for truth and casting out evil-doing, being sent forth now and forever.
Gospel reflection of Dss. Bless De Leon, Board of Women’s Work, UMC for the Feast of the Holy Family Sir 3:2-6, 12-14, Ps 128:1-2, 3, 4-5, Col 3:12-21 or 3:12-17, LK 2:22-40