“Lord, now let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled: my own eyes have seen the salvation which you prepared in the sight of every people, a light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel” (Lk 2:29-32).
As Simeon receives Jesus to be consecrated to the Lord, he recognizes through the gift of the Holy Spirit that this child, is the one he and Israel had been waiting for. Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ. He has come to fulfill the Law and the Prophets as well as be a light to the Gentiles, to all the Nations.
These verses, called the Canticle of Simeon, recorded by Luke are recited each night by those of us who pray the Divine Office or the Liturgy of the Hours. They are prayed during Compline or Night Prayer, the last prayers before going to sleep. We also may remember this reading as the Gospel reading from this past Sunday. The gift of reading a Gospel passage again and again is that when we are open God can speak to us in deeper ways or help us to see something we have not seen before. We too can celebrate the birth of Jesus who is our savior, our fulfillment and our light also.
We can meditate again with this same passage. We can enter the scene and, like Simeon, receive this child in our arms from Mary and Joseph. May we too see the salvation that is offered us, the invitation given to us. May we not run from the light of his truth, but may we embrace it so as to be transformed. Let us glory in the joy of knowing that Jesus came to share his love, mercy, and grace, with us. He is the promise of healing that we all need to realize and actualize in our lives.
That is the key, Jesus invites but does not impose. This Christmas can be just another day in a cycle of days that pass with no change, or we can immerse ourselves in this Octave of Christmas so as to take seriously the fact that Jesus is who he said he is, who the Apostles claimed that he was, who the Church still announces that he is today. Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God. Do we also believe this truth?
I invite you to return to the meditation we started above continue to hold the baby Jesus, our savior, in your arms as Simeon did. As you hold him look into his face, see his smile, the glint in his eye, and allow that exchange to melt away any sin of pride, lust, greed, envy, sloth, gluttony, prejudice, and wrath. May we experience the warmth of his love radiate up from the depths of our soul. May we be filled with his joy to overflowing, such that as we gaze on another today we may share that same smile we have received and so radiate the love of Christ with those we encounter today and each day going forward.
Painting: Het loflied van Simeon – the Song of praise from Simeon, by Arent de Gelder, ca. 1700-1710