The fourth joy: The Presentation in the Temple and Simeon’s blessing.
In O’Brien’s painting of The Presentation we recognise that the artist has preferred depth of meaning over realism: the child is not a six-weeks-old infant but the Light of the Nations and the fulfilment of the scriptures as suggested by the book he holds.
The emphasis is not on the sword of sorrow foretold to Mary by Simeon but on the blessing that Simeon has invoked on the parents, who are depicted with Jesus in a grouping that speaks of closeness and intimacy. Joseph’s garments recall the prayer shawl worn by devout Jews.
Harmony in family life is indeed a wonderful blessing. Families feature very strongly in the prayers that people bring to Lough Derg or send here as petitions: in the myriad of challenges that arise within the family circle, in the difficulties from outside that a family must face together, and in heartfelt thanksgiving to God for prayers answered and blessings received.
Let us pray with Pope Francis:
Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.
Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy and courage,
and defend us from every evil. Amen.
St Joseph, pray for us.