This chapter begins with the Nativity of Jesus (vv. 1-14). The Incarnation of God as a Human is the central mystery of the Christian faith. It’s also a miracle of such profound proportions, that its meaning and affects will never be exhaustively explained and understood. And yet so much is contained in the name that God gives to himself, born into human form: Jesus. The name means “he who saves”. Jesus’s name describes his mission and his mission is revealed by his name. So, to answer Shakespeare: what’s is a name? For Jesus- everything!
Luke then squeezes together several episodes that may have happened over a longer period of chronological time than what Luke presents: the circumcision and naming of Jesus (v. 21); the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple (vv. 22-38); his return to Nazareth (vv. 39-40); and the Finding of Jesus in the Temple (vv. 41-52).
In each of these episodes, Jesus is revealing, in a veiled way, little portions of his true identity and ability. For instance, the finding of the Jesus in the temple in vv. 41-52 has Jesus listening to the rabbis and asking him questions, and responding to them with understanding and wisdom (v. 47). The implication here is that Jesus is smart for his age, with a wisdom that is peculiar. This is no ordinary little boy. The same idea can be said of vv.15-20 when the shepherds visit Mary, Joseph, and new-born Jesus in the manger. Who is this kid that the shepherds would abandon their sheep in the middle of the night and end up returning to them glorifying and praising God (v. 16, 20).
A brief note about the Canticle and Prophecy of Simeon we hear in vv. 29-35. The Canticle of Simeon is followed by a prophecy for both Jesus and Mary; although the prophecy appears to be meant for Mary alone. The Canticle of Simeon, which comprises vv. 29-32, is offered during Night Prayer as part of the Liturgy of the Hours. It’s a prayer of hope and anticipation for the future ministry and mission that Jesus will embrace. The prophecy that Simeon gives to Mary tempers that hope by reminding us that it is through suffering and Death that Jesus will accomplish these things for the Father.
Point for Prayer
“New born Jesus, I will for you among all the poor, the lonely and the helpless. I will love you and serve you in them. I will sing to you and show you affection in them and all whom I meet. With you grace I now this will be possible”(34).