Luke’s Nativity: December 26

And when the eighth day arrived and it was time to make the “in God’s people cut” on his body, they named the boy Jesus.  Even before he was placed in the womb, the angel gave him that name.

So when that day of cleansing arrived, the day prescribed by the law of Moses, they led him up to Jerusalem and set him before the Lord.  They were following the Lord’s law closely: “Every firstborn that makes it through his mother will be called holy to the Lord.  Therefore give a sacrifice of two turtle doves or two young doves.

And behold, in Jerusalem there was a man called Symeon.  This man was righteous and authentic with God. He was abandoned in spirit, hoping for light to shine on Israel again.  And the Holy Spirit was upon him. The Holy Spirit had been revealing something to him: that he would not see death before he saw the Messiah of the Lord.

This particular day he came into the temple filled with the Spirit. The parents and the baby Jesus were led into the temple.  They did for him what was customary of the law.  And Symeon scooped up Jesus in his bent arms. And he praised God saying,

“Now, Ruler, I am at peace. Let your servant depart as you said.  For my eyes got a glimpse of your salvation.  You set this light up in a public place so all the people could see him.  Your salvation is a revelation for the gentiles and for the glory of your people, Israel.”

His father and mother were amazed at what was being said about their child.  Then Symeon turned to bless them saying to his mother Mariam, “Be warned.  He exists for the downfall and for the uplifting of many in Israel.  He exists as a sign of opposition. And now this: before you and by the sword, he will meet his destined end.   His death will shed light on the careful reasoning of many hearts.

Then in the temple, they came upon another voice. Anna was a prophetess from the tribe of Aser. She was a daughter of Phanouel.  And she was getting way-up there in her age. She had lived with a husband for seven years.  She had saved herself for him. Then – a sad story – she became a widow, and she lived the single life for eighty-four years. During that time she never left the temple.  She filled her life with fasting and prayers.  And she would worship night and day.

And just as Symeon finished talking, she crowded the family and thanked God deeply. She spoke about him to all who were praying for Jerusalem’s independence from Rome.

And when they completed everything proscribed by the law, they went back to Galilee into their city of Nazareth.  And the child got taller and stronger.  And, being filled with wisdom, the grace of God was upon him.

 

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“Not only angels and prophets; shepherds and kinsfolk, but old men and just bear their witness to the birth of the Lord. Every age in life and both sexes, marvels and miracles, affirm our faith.  A Virgin conceives, a barren woman gives birth; Elizabeth prophecies, the Magi adore; the child in the womb leaps for joy, a widow gives thanks.  And a just man waits.  Truly he was just, for he was not waiting in expectation of his own profit, but rather that of the people.  For his own part, all he wanted was to be delivered from the bonds of this wretched body – but first to see the promised Messiah.  For he knew that ‘blessed are the eyes that see’…

“He longs to be set free so that he can be with Christ. ‘For to die and be with Christ is the better thing.’ But if you want to be set free you must come to the Temple.  You must come to Jerusalem.  You must await the Lord’s Anointed; you must receive in your hands the Word of God, and embrace Him – so to speak – with the arms of your faith.  Then you will be set free and never see death, for you will have seen Life…

“Neither Scripture nor History mentions that Mary departed this life by way of Martyrdom.  But a material sword goes through the body, not through the soul.  By this we are shown the wisdom of Mary and her understanding of the heavenly mystery.  For the ‘word of God is living and active; more piercing than any two-edged sword and reaching even to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow.  It sounds the secret thoughts of mind and heart.’  (Heb 4.12). To the Son, everything in our mind is naked and open, and there is no secret that our conscience can hold back from Him.”

Ambrose, Commentary on the Gospel of Luke: Book 2.

 

“So ‘they brought him to place him in the sight of the Lord.’ What scriptural commands were they fulfilling?  This one: ‘As it is written in the law of Moses, every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord,’ and, ‘Three times in the year every male shall appear in the sight of the Lord God.’  Males were offered before the altar of the Lord.  Scripture says, ‘Every male that opens the womb…’ This phrase has a spiritual meaning. For you might say that ‘every male is brought forth from the womb’ but does not open the womb of his mother, in the way that the Lord Jesus did.  In the case of every other woman, it is not the birth of an infant but intercourse with a man that opens the womb.

“But the womb of the Lord’s mother was opened at the time when her offspring was brought forth, because before the birth of Christ a male did not even touch her womb, holy as it was and deserving of all respect.  I dare to say something.  At that moment of which Scripture says, ‘The Spirit of God will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will over-shadow you,’ the seed was planted and the conception took place; without an opening of the womb, a new offspring began to grow.  Hence the Savior himself says, ‘But I am a worm, and not a man.’ A man is normally born from a male and female; but I was not born from a male and a female, according to nature and the ways of men.”

Origen, Homilies on Luke: Sermon 14.

 


 

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