You will find the readings here.
My youngest daughter asked me how the homily was going for this week. It is a rare time when my daughters show an interest in my activities. I offered a preview of the homily I intended to write and asked her what she thought. Ever candid, she asked me who my homily was written for specifically the audience age. I thought the homily was for all ages – WRONG – she informed me.
As you might guess I rewrote the homily to appeal to a younger audience. I hope you find it appeals to you regardless of your age.
If you look up canticle in the thesaurus some of the words you will find are “anthem,” “carol,” “hymn'” and “psalm.” We might describe a canticle as a song, or a joyful song or better yet a song of praise. Did you hear the canticle in the Gospel this week.
What? You didn’t hear a joyful song of praise in the Gospel? That is alright, not everybody agrees that the canticle of Simeon is actually a canticle. As Catholics we have another name for this canticle: Nunc Dimittis the canticle prayed during the Daily Office at Complin or night prayer. You will have to trust me on this one, there is a canticle in there. Enough of the history lesson.
When you have questions who do you go to for advice or answers? Do you have somebody that you trust to be honest with you? Would you go to your parish priest to ask questions about faith? What about your parents? These are not trick questions. There is no right answer.
I have a scenario for you to consider. Say you and your friends were discussing the Bible or abortion or both and you discovered that there was a difference of opinion, who would you seek out to learn more about these topics? Who do you trust to provide an honest answer to your questions? As you thought about this scenario have you considered the parish priest? When I asked my daughter to weigh-in on this she explained that she would never go to the parish priest because he would not tell her the truth. Perhaps you feel the same?
“Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.”
– Pope Paul VI (EVANGELII NUNTIANDI)
Simeon and Anna were older righteous and devout members of the community. By virtue of their age and experience the Holy Spirit was their guide. They were credible witnesses to Christ. Without doubt those around them respected them for their wisdom. They seemed like the kind of people you would seek if you had questions. Because of their witness the community listened to their words.
The parish priest signed-on for the same duty. In their pastoral ministry they seek to be credible witness to Christ. This is one of the functions of the priest in the community. If you can’t trust the priest to be honest who can you trust?
Don’t put this all on the parish priest because every Catholic has the duty to be credible witnesses and should be guided by the Holy Spirit more and more as they age. I have come to understand that young people are keen observers and they can see see hypocrisy clearly. In my many years of youth ministry I learned that the best policy is to be honest when approached by a young person seeking advice. If they can ask the questions they are capable of hearing the honest answer. I also learned that “I don’t know” is completely acceptable.
If you take away one action from this homily it should be for young people not to be discouraged if they have difficulty finding a Simeon or Anna in their life. Keep looking for those older righteous and devout members of your community to provide credible witness and ask your tough questions. Also, if you are one of the elders of the community it should be your witness to the youth that allows them to listen to your words. Answer their questions honestly, even if that means you have to say “I don’t know.”