Lectionary Year B
December 29, 2002
Step V: Distillation
A. Summary of Salient Features
(JFC) "The theological 'center of gravity' of this text" is God who appears in all three
persons of the Trinity. God's Law, re: the firstborn (male child, especially) and for the parents, too, who is awaited for salvation and who is served and praised. The Holy Spirit comes to Simeon and leads him to the Holy Family in the Temple. The infant Jesus seems to be the most centrally focused person of them all. He is presented, recognized, prophesied about and grows. Other main players in the drama of this lection are, of course, Simeon and Anna. After them, the stipulations of the Law are important. Next, the people who hear Anna's (and probably Simeon's, too, although this text fails to mention it) declarations seem important, too. Then, the content of their statements is of some significance. Any lesser weighty elements here must be Mary's surprise and amazement at the sayings of Simeon and Anna and the waiting for Israel's redemption, can you believe?
B. Smoother Translation
(JFC) 22 And when were fulfilled the days for their purification, according to
the law of Moses, they brought him to dedicate/present him to the Lord, 23 according to what is written in the law of (the) Lord every male opening a womb shall be holy/consecrated to the Lord and named, 24 and the giving of a sacrifice according to the sayings in the law of the Lord, a pair of doves or two young pigeons.
25 And behold a man was in Jerusalem whose name (was) Simeon and he (was) righteous and devout awaiting (the) salvation/setting free of Israel, and (the) Holy Spirit lived/rested/was on him; 26 and it was to him to have been called/warned by the Holy Spirit that not was he to die before Christ (the) Lord should appear. 27 And the Spirit led him into the Temple; and these parents did unto the child Jesus according to what was accustomed in the law 28 and Simeon took him into his arms and praised God saying;
29 "Now dismissing/releasing/setting free Your servant, Master/Lord,
according to Your saying/promise of peace;
30 these very eyes of mine have seen Your salvation,
31 which You prepared in (and for?) all the peoples/nations,
32 a light unto the revelation of the nations/people
and glory for (the) people/nation of Israel."
33 And was the father of his and the mother being amazed at the sayings concerning him. 34 And praised them Simeon and said to Mary his mother; "Behold, this one is destined unto fallings and risings of many in Israel and as a sign contradicting - 35 and of you yourself the life/psyche will go/pass through sorrow/sword - in order that might be revealed from many hearts' their opinions.
36 And there was Anna a prophetess, daughter of Phanuel, from (the) tribe of Asher; she was old in many years, having lived with her husband seven years after (the) their marriage 37 and she (was) a widow now for eighty-four years, she never left the Temple fasting an praying worshipping night and day. 38 And that very hour she appeared and gave thanks to God and said/proclaimed concerning all the waiting for (the) redemption of Jerusalem.
39 And as they finished all that according to the law of the Lord, they returned to the Galilee to the their city of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong/matured (by) fulfilling wisdom, and (the) grace of God was upon him.
C. Hermeneutical Bridge
(JFC) Walter J. Burghardt, S.J., in Holy Family/Wholly Family, writes in The Living
Pulpit, "In 1984 Pope John Paul VI made a pilgrimage to Nazareth. In a sermon there he saw Nazareth as a school where 'we learn about family life. May Nazareth serve as a model of what the family should be. May it show us the family's holy and enduring character and exemplifying its basic function in society; a community of love and sharing, beautiful for the problems it poses and the rewards it brings, . . .' A holy family is a wholly family: loving and liking, playing and praying, disagreeing and reconciling, joying and sorrowing - together. . ." Some of what the Holy Family models in this week's Gospel Lesson speaks of such dreams, especially when we realize "family" in this text includes Simeon, Anna and the on-lookers and hearers and readers even until now.
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