Malachi 3:1-4; Psalm 84; Hebrews 2:14-18; Luke 2:22-40
When Marie was pregnant with Thomas, we were often amazed by what people who did not know her would say. Then, we discovered that there are people who will offer unsolicited advice and comments to parents with babies and young children.
But, while there were a few comments that were head scratchers, none of them were like what Simeon did with Jesus, Mary and Joseph. What Simeon said when he took Jesus in his arms is flattering.
Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.
That’s not something you hear every day when people are playing peek a boo with the baby. But, what comes next is heart breaking. How could Mary have taken this calmly?
After saying to Joseph and Mary, “May the Lord bless you and keep you…” Simeon turns to Mary and says, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed - and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
Well, in case the remarkable events surrounding the birth of Jesus were a bit hazy and dreamlike because Joseph and Mary were really, really, tired from all the first time parents and new baby issues coming their way, here was a stark reminder that Jesus wasn’t just any baby.
The reason the Angels sang and the shepherds came and the star shone and the Wise men brought gifts is because Jesus is the embodiment of God’s good news. Jesus is salvation itself. Jesus is the light for revelation. Jesus is the glory of Israel.
Simeon takes on the role of John the Baptist pointing to Jesus as the Christ. Thirty years before John the Baptist, Simeon points Mary, Joseph, and us to the cross. John the Baptist called Jesus the Lamb of God. Simeon calls Jesus the light and salvation of God.
This Feast in a linch pin that connects the exuberant joy of Christmas birth with the grim joy of the cross. Mary was at the cross watching helplessly as her son bore the sins of the world upon his shoulders. The sword of his betrayal and the unjustness of the verdict and his death on the cross pierced her heart, pierced her soul. How did she recover? Well, she had faith. She had faith in her Son.
Forty days after Jesus’ birth, we are forced to come to terms with the fact that we have salvation because Mary’s son died on a cross for us. Mary’s son persuades our Heavenly Father to look upon us with forgiveness in His heart rather than the wrath which we so justly deserve. We are grateful. But, we are aware that our salvation comes at a heavy human price. Not just for Jesus, but for Mary as well. How do we live with the fact that Mary’s Son is born for us and that He dies for us? When we realize this, our souls are pierced too. Jesus gives his life so that we may enjoy a life filled with forgiveness and love and peace. Jesus gives his life so that we may enjoy God with the saints for eternity. How do we live with this?
We live with faith. We live with faith in Jesus as the Christ. We let the radiating light of God that we received in Holy Baptism, shine forth from our hearts, our mouths, and our hands. We live with faith, trusting in the promises of God, so that we can love God and love our neighbors.
All God’s people say…Amen.