Sybil 2007

Gospel text

Luke 2: 22-40

22 When the date of their purification came according to the law of Moses, the parents of Jesus brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, 23 as it is written in the law of the Lord: every male who first opens the womb will be considered as belonging to the Lord, 24 and also to offer in sacrifice, as what has been said in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves or two young doves.

25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. He was an authentic and religious man. He was waiting for the happiness promised to Israel and was inhabited by the Holy Spirit. 26 And the latter has made him understand that he would not die before seeing the Messiah of the Lord. 27 Inspired by the Spirit, he came to the temple. When the parents entered with the baby Jesus to do what the law usually requires about him, 28 he received the child in his arms and expressed his gratitude to God with these words:

29 Now, Master, you can let go in peace your servant as you propose,
30 For my eyes have seen the plan of liberation
31 which you have prepared for all peoples,
32 that of a revealing light for the nations
and a showcase for your people Israel.

33 His father and mother were upset with what was said about him. 34 Simeon thanked them, and then he said to his mother Mary, "Listen, your child has been given the mission of making many people in Israel stumbling and raising up, and thus being a source of contradiction. 35 (And you yourself, a sword will pierce your being), so that the deep thoughts of the hearts of many people are revealed. 36 There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She is a senior, who has lived with a man for seven years as a girl, 37 and remained a widow until she was 84 years old. She did not go away from the temple, worshipping day and night with fasts and prayers. 38 She appeared at this very hour and began to praise God and to speak of the child to all the people who were waiting for the rehabilitation of Jerusalem.

39 Then, after having fulfilled all that the law of the Lord required, Jesus' parents returned to Galilee in their city of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and strengthened himself, showing much wisdom, and the overflowing love of God was in him.


The shell gave him all the nutrients to break it and go his way

Gospel commentary - Homily

The family, source of life or death?

This is the story of a girl who belongs to a race known as Roms or Gypsies. The girl lives in Eastern Europe. She is a student with exceptional talent and her grades are among the highest in her country. One see her at the university and being launched to lightning career. But now her family finds all this too risky: she is forced to a marriage of convenience, taken to a remote village, raped and kept in isolation. Then she will be part of a traffic with Western Europe where she is now part of a group of beggars parked near a very famous stadium. Some tried to rehabilitate her, offering her a safe home where she could continue her studies. She refused, terrified that her family could find her. The family, source of life or death? In the latter case, the answer is clear.

It is in this context that I propose to read again the story of the Gospel of Luke on the parents of Jesus who take him to the temple to complete the ritual required by Jewish law for first-born males: 33 days later the circumcision of the child that took place on the 8th day of his birth, the mother will complete the cycle of purification of his blood by bringing his child to the priest of the temple and offer an animal as a holocaust, ie the animal will be completely burned in sign of irrevocable gift, then a second animal will be offered as an atonement for sins. Thus the woman will be purified. For a first-born male, it was also necessary to redeem him with a small sum of money, because he belonged to God, since the latter had slaughtered the first-born Egyptians to obtain the liberation of Israel from Egypt. Sacrifice of animals, financial transaction to get back his child, celebration of a massacre of children by God. Would not you be uncomfortable if you had to do these rites? The Gospel seems to present Mary and Joseph as traditionalist people who conform to religious law, and thus contribute little to the evolution of society. Yet what they will bring is unheard of.

One day, their son Jesus will question the religious laws. He will relativize the Sabbath, yet the core of the Jewish religion still today. He will question the rites of purification, especially all ablutions on the body. And above all, he will distance himself from the Temple and all those animal sacrifices. He will propose a religion of the heart. How did the son of Mary and Joseph come to this? Do not just say that he was the Son of God. It is to ignore the Incarnation, it is to ignore that God wanted to take over our human condition, it is to ignore that Jesus had to learn to become a man, it is to ignore the meaning of today's Gospel: "And the child grew and strengthened, showing great wisdom, and the overflowing love of God was in him". Jesus received guidance in order to grow. How could he become what he is , trust and attention he has received? His family was a source of life, even if it meant questioning and destroying his religious world.

The Simeon character will summarize what this child represents: I can now die in peace, can we paraphrase, because I have now the certainty that all that I hoped will come true, I perceive this plan of liberation that God has prepared for all the nations of the world. An elderly widow, Anna, who is said to be a prophetess, will take up a similar chorus by announcing the rehabilitation of Jerusalem, the city of the Temple. But with 2,000 years of hindsight, what do we have to say to Simeon and Anna? Simeon, Anna, you are right! Because of Jesus, the world is no longer the same. For a crowd of people, he has become a light that has lit up their lives, he has introduced a new way of looking at the world and determining what is important, faith in his constant presence allows them to face many challenges. But do not be surprised to learn that this Temple and all those religious rites that have allowed you to meet him have collapsed, and are no longer the place to experience his presence. The rehabilitation of the Temple was done by moving on to something else.

Let's return to the trigger of this revolution: Mary and Joseph. What did these traditionalists do? They loved, they trusted, they were attentive. That's the point. The shape of the family is less important. Joseph was not the biological father, according to tradition. And again according to tradition, Mary found herself alone after the death of Joseph. On the other hand, our young Gypsy girl of the beginning was destroyed by a "standard" family. The true family is the one who is able to launch a being in the orbit of life and make him find his own path, and to be in turn source of life. Are we aware of this?


-André Gilbert, Gatineau, September 2008