February 2, 2024
Luke 2: 22-40
The 2nd day of February 1804 Is a day forever memorable in the Annals of the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur as the day marking our origin. On that day, Julie Billiart, Franꞔoise Blin de Bourdon and Catherine Duchậtel renewed their vow of chastity to which they added that of devoting themselves to the Christian education of girls.
On the same feast of the Presentation two years later, Julie was giving an instruction on Christian Doctrine to the community in the workroom at Namur. While speaking of the mystery of the day, Julie intoned the Canticle of Simeon in which the Community joined. At the verse of “Lumen ad revelationem gentium” Julie had a profound religious experience as she gazed at the crucifix. It is an enduring tradition of the Congregation that marks this event as the origin of our internationality, carrying the light of the gospels to the nations.
It is instructive for us to realize the origin of these two significant moments in the Congregation. The first takes place in Chapel and the second in the workroom. It is a visible reminder to us that “the
authenticity of our prayer flows from our life response” (art. 41, Constitutions). Prayer and action are inextricably bound.
In the Gospel of the feast, Luke presents Jesus in the role of the faithful Jewish boy, raised in the traditions of Israel, and fulfilling all that the law requires. In the concept of a presentation at the temple, Luke echoes 1Sam1:24-28 when Hannah offers her child Samuel for sanctuary service. It holds up for us the fidelity of Hannah and Mary.
Hannah and Mary have also given us the gift of the Magnificat. After Hannah offered Samuel, she sings a song which begins “My heart exalts in the Lord, my strength is exalted in my God.” 1Sam2:1. Many of the phrases in Mary’s Magnificat when she visits Elizabeth are also found in Hannah’s prayer. “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.” (Luke 1:46).
Let us celebrate this glorious feast which celebrates our founding and international identity by uniting with the remarkable women Mary and Hannah in singing the Magnificat.
Luke 2: 22-40
When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, they took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord,
“Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord, to offer the sacrifice of a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons, in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.”
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, He took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:
“Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”
The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted –and you yourself a sword will pierce– so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.
When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.
The Gospel of the Lord