Jesus moves Simeon and Anna to reveal His identity at His Presentation at the Temple. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by building the Virtue of Obedience so he can obediently respond to God’s call for him to be the head of his family and by pursuing the Virtue of Duty so he can more fully imitate the sacrificial headship of St. Joseph.
Christmastime – Feast of the Holy Family – 1st Sunday after the Nativity – Cycle B (or December 30) – Lk 2:22-40
Forty days after the birth of Jesus, St. Joseph leads the Blessed Virgin Mary and Jesus to Jerusalem to fulfill the purification after-birth rituals (Lev 12) for the Blessed Virgin Mary, even though she mysteriously remains a Virgin even after the birth of Jesus, and the ceremonial presentation and consecration of their first born (Ex 13:11-16). The Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph’s offering (two small birds) meet the requirements of the poor; Jesus is counted among the poor He comes to save.
Simeon, a devout old man, has long waited for God’s promise that he would see Israel’s salvation. Simeon’s hymn, called the Nunc Dimittis (Latin, “now dismissed”), confirms Simeon may die in peace and joy, knowing Israel’s promised salvation has come. Beyond Simeon’s comprehension, he is given the profound blessing of holding God in his arms. Simeon’s prophecy is a bittersweet consolation to the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph for it both underscores Jesus’ saving mission and the future suffering of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The Holy Family is then approached by an extremely old woman (84 years old), the prophetess Anna. Given Anna’s many decades of devotion in the Temple and her reputation as a prophetess, she influenced many over the years, particularly young women. Tradition holds that, as a child, the Blessed Virgin Mary was consecrated as a virgin to God and remained in the Temple until the age of 12; though not confirmed in Scripture, the Blessed Virgin Mary may very well had encountered and been influenced by Anna during her childhood. Upon drawing near the Holy Family, Anna gave prophetic witness to Christ Jesus, the Redeemer of the World.
Be awed by Jesus Christ
Marvel at how God the Father and St. Joseph prepared Jesus for His mission by helping Him build extraordinary human Strength and Stamina: Jesus endures tough conditions from an early age including the arduous travel to Egypt; He grows up in austerity and challenge in Egypt; He returns to Nazareth to be raised in the arduous and grueling profession of a 1st Century carpenter.
Be obedient to God’s call to headship
Realize: Despite the recent efforts to undermine the importance of men, God the Father’s plan for humanity has always been built on the leadership of men (patriarchy): God calls Joseph to be the earthly father of Jesus; Jesus chooses and forms 12 men to be His Apostles; Jesus appoints Peter and successive popes to lead His Kingdom on Earth; Jesus establishes the male priesthood.
Believe: Reflect upon God’s deliberate Plan of Patriarchy (CCC 261-267, 1297, 1312, 1577, 2214, 2571).
Pray: Almighty and Most Gracious Father, help me build the Virtue of Obedience (a part of Justice) so I willingly submit to, and actively support, Your deliberate plan for men to be sacrificial leaders in the Church, in families, and in society.
Imitate the sacrificial headship of St. Joseph
Realize: God’s plan for men to be the leaders of their families is confirmed by God’s choosing of St. Joseph to be the head of the Holy Family, the first Domestic Church, the smallest part of the Church Militant, one of the three parts of the Church (Church Militant – the Church on earth; Church Penitent – Purgatory; Church Triumphant – Heaven).
Believe: Reflect upon the Domestic Church Militant (CCC 954, 962, 1655-1658, 1666, 2204, 2210, 2685).
Pray: St. Joseph, pray that I grow in the Virtue of Duty/Responsibility (a part of Justice) so I can lead, provide for, and protect my family, and I willingly sacrifice my selfish desires and myself for the good of my wife and children.