First Sunday after Christmas – Year B
December 27 - January 1
Gospel Lectionary Text
2:22 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
2:23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord"),
2:24 and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons."
2:25 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.
2:26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Messiah.
2:27 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,
2:28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,
2:29 "Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word;
2:30 for my eyes have seen your salvation,
2:31 which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
2:32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel."
2:33 And the child's father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him.
2:34 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
2:35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed--and a sword will pierce your own soul too."
2:36 There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage,
2:37 then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day.
2:38 At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
2:39 When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.
2:40 The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.
In this first week after Christmas, as the echoes of yuletide cheers fade, we encounter a story rich with sacrificial symbolism and a touch of irony. Luke details the temple rituals and laws, including the sacrifices, enveloping the infant Jesus in order to declare him “holy.” The contrast is stark — the grand temple, emblematic of power and "righteousness," and awash in blood, juxtaposed with the vulnerability and innocence of a baby.
Yet, the absurdity of this paradox is the point, shedding light on the insidious nature of the sacrificial systems that help maintain the illusion of our own "goodness." And It hints at the role Jesus will assume, redeeming humanity from a way of life rooted in violence. The irony unfolds: the transformative power of a non-violent God is eerily similar to that of a swaddled baby.
Are there “temples” in your life where you might be sacrificing the well-being of others or yourself to maintain your own myths of "goodness?"
Take Lord and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and my entire will, all that I have and call my own. You have given all to me. To you Lord I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will. I ask only for your love and your grace. That is enough. See the complete prayer
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