The Cathedral Connection 2 February 2020

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ENDINGS AND BEGINNINGS

It’s not often today’s Feast, that of the Presentation, falls on a Sunday. As St Luke explains, the infant Jesus, being a first-born, was presented to the Lord. A number of points might be made about the way Luke tells the story. First, he emphasises that Jesus and his parents were devout Jews. Secondly, there’s another ‘recognition’ of Jesus as the salvation, not only of Israel, but of all the world.

Some commentators point out that Luke likes to balance men and women in his stories – not only in the stories about Mary and Joseph, Elizabeth and Zachariah – but also in the parables Jesus tells, where one featuring a man is followed by one featuring a woman. In today’s gospel it’s Simeon and Anna (or Hannah), both elderly prophets, filled with the Holy Spirit, who recognise Jesus. Unfortunately we don’t have Anna’s words, but Simeon’s words – ‘Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace…’ are well known and are very beautiful, speaking as they do of a fulfilled old age.

But there is a catch. Simeon also warns Mary that ‘a sword will pierce your own soul too’. We can only imagine how Mary might have felt, hearing such words on a solemn and joyful day. As well as the allusion to Jesus’s future, perhaps, we are being reminded that to love also means to risk grief, to risk loss. But, as the Song of Songs reminds us, love is stronger than death.

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The Presentation story is also about endings and beginnings  – Anna and Simeon are elderly; Jesus is an infant with his life ahead of him. Last week we farewelled Fr Doug Shepherd.. Today we welcome Fr David Dowling as our new Parish Priest. Fr David, we are delighted to have you with us and we ask that God will bless your ministry with us, and ours with yours,  in the months and years ahead.

Jim McAloon, Chair, Parish Pastoral Council.

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