Daily Devotional for February 12 – 18
*Commentary from the Catholic Navarre Bible
Luke 2:21 And when eight days were completed [g]for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.
22 Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”), 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
NC: On the meaning and rite of circumcision, cf. note on Lk 1:59. “Jesus” means “Yahweh saves” or “Yahweh is salvation”, that is, Saviour. This name was given the Child not as the result of any human decision but in keeping with the commandment of God which the angel communicated to the Blessed Virgin and to St Joseph (cf. Lk 1:3 1; Mk 1:21).
The Holy Family goes up to Jerusalem to fulfil the prescriptions of the Law of Moses — the purification of the mother and the presentation and then redemption or buying back of the first-born. According to Lev 12:2-8, a woman who bore a child was unclean. The period of legal impurity ended, in the case of a mother of a male child, after forty days, with a rite of purification. Mary most holy, ever-virgin, was exempt from these precepts of the Law, because she conceived without intercourse, nor did Christ’s birth undo the virginal integrity of his Mother. However, she chose to submit herself to the Law, although she was under no obligation to do so.
We adore Thee O Christ and we bless Thee for by Thy Holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world.
Luke 2: 25 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, 28 he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:
29 “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace,
According to Your word;
30 For my eyes have seen Your salvation
31 Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,
32 A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles,
And the glory of Your people Israel.”
NC: Simeon, who is described as a righteous and devout man [*which some traditional writings maintain was supernaturally old to allow him to see the ‘Virgin’ conceive] , obedient to God’s will, addresses himself to our Lord as a vassal or loyal servant who, having kept watch all his life in expectation of the coming of his Lord, sees that this moment has “now” come, the moment that explains his whole life. When he takes the Child in his arms, he learns, not through any reasoning process but through a special grace from God, that this Child is the promised Messiah, the Consolation of Israel, the Light of the nations.
Simeon’s canticle (vv.29-32) is also a prophecy. It consists of two stanzas: the first (vv. 29-30) is an act of thanksgiving to God, filled with profound joy, for having seen the Messiah. The second (vv. 3 1-32) is more obviously prophetic and extols the divine blessings which the Messiah is bringing to Israel and to all men. The canticle highlights the fact that Christ brings redemption to all men without exception — something foretold in many Old Testament prophecies
Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight O Lord my strength and my redeemer
Luke 2: 33 [h]And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against 35 (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
36 Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; 37 and this woman was a widow [i]of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 38 And coming in that instant she gave thanks to [j]the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
NC: The Blessed Virgin and St Joseph marvelled not because they did not know who Christ was: they were in awe of the way God was revealing him. Once again they teach us to contemplate the mysteries involved in the birth of Christ…
The words Simeon addressed to Mary announce that she will be intimately linked with her Son’s redemptive work. The sword indicates that Mary will have a share in her Son’s sufferings; hers will be an unspeakable pain which pierces through her soul. Our Lord suffered on the Cross for our sins; and it is those sins which forge the sword of Mary’s pain. Therefore, we have a duty to atone not only to God but also to his Mother, who is our Mother too.
Anna’s testimony is very similar to Simeon’s: like him, she too has been awaiting the coming of the Messiah her whole life long, in faithful service of God; and she too is rewarded with the joy of seeing him; “She spoke of him,” that is, of the Child — praising God in her prayer and exhorting others to believe that this Child is the Messiah.
O Lord come to my assistance, O Lord make haste to help me.
Luke 2: 39 So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. 40 And the Child grew and became strong [k]in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.
41 His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. 43 When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And [l]Joseph and His mother did not know it; 44 but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. 45 So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. 46 Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. 48 So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.”
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.
NC: [commentary on young Jesus and in the temple] On pilgrimages to Jerusalem, the Jews used to go in two groups — one of men, the other of women. Children could go with either group. This explains how they could go a day’s journey before they discovered the Child was missing when the families regrouped to camp.
Jesus teaches us that over and above any human authority, even that of our parents, there is the primary duty to do the will of God. “And, once we are consoled by the joy of finding Jesus — three days he was gone! — debating with the teachers of Israel (Lk 2:46), you and I shall be left deeply impressed by the duty to leave our home and family to serve our heavenly Father” (St Josemaria)
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts, the whole earth is filled with Thy Glory.
Luke 2:49 And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” 50 But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them.
51 Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was [m]subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
NC: The Gospel sums up Jesus’ life in Nazareth in just three words: erat subditus illis, he was obedient to them. “Jesus obeys, and he obeys Joseph and Mary. God has come to the world to obey, and to obey creatures. Admittedly they are very perfect creatures: Holy Mary, our mother, greater than whom God alone; and that most chaste man Joseph. But they are only creatures, and yet Jesus, who is God, obeyed them.
Jesus lived like any other inhabitant of Nazareth, working at the same trade as St Joseph and earning his living by the sweat of his brow. “His hidden years are not without significance, nor were they simply a preparation for the years which were to come after — those of his public life. Since 1928 I have understood clearly that God wants our Lord’s whole life to be an example for Christians. (St Josemaria)
Christ with me, Christ before me,
Christ behind me, Christ in me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
(St. Patrick’s Breastplate prayer excerpt)
NC commentary summary: As far as his human nature was concerned Jesus matured like anyone else. His growth in wisdom should be seen as referring to experiential knowledge —knowledge acquired by his mind from sense experience and general experience of life. It can also be taken as referring to the product of the external expression of his wisdom: in this sense everything he did was done perfectly, in keeping with whatever age he was at the time.
As man Jesus had three kinds of knowledge: 1. The knowledge of the blessed (vision of the divine essence) by virtue of the hypostatic union (the union of his human nature with his divine nature in the one Person of the Word). This knowledge did not allow of any increase. 2. Infused knowledge, which perfected his intellect and which meant that he knew everything, even hidden things: thus he was able to read men’s hearts. Here again his knowledge was complete: it could not grow. 3. Acquired knowledge: he acquired new knowledge through sense experience and reflection; logically, this knowledge increased as time went by.
O Come let us worship and fall down before Christ, O Son of God, Who didst rise from the dead, save us who chant unto Thee, Alleluia.