29 December
Lk 2:22-35

When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord"), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons." Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, "Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel." And the child's father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, "This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed – and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

“Now I can die!”  Here at the end of the year stands the serene figure of Simeon, in vivid contrast to the tortured Herod, slayer of the Innocents.  Herod’s death became legendary for its awfulness.  But Simeon can teach us how to approach death: how not to see it as an enemy, “the prince of terrors,” how not to define it as the destruction of life, but to welcome it as a culmination, a completion.  If we have not lived fully, we will be terrified of death.  If Simeon could approach death so beautifully, he must have lived a deep life: unlike Herod, he must have fought the war within, and come to peace with himself, with others and with God.  “Now, Lord, you can let your servant go in peace.”  Simeon’s canticle, the Nunc Dimittis, is part of the Night Prayer of the Church.  It is a beautiful closing of the day: a lesson in how to end things, how to take one’s leave....



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This page gives a very brief commentary by Donagh O’Shea on the gospel reading for each day of the month. 


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