When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.
Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,“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.”
And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “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.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translation
On retreat once, I prayed with John 1:5—“the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” “And,” my retreat director said, “it never will.” It’s hard to believe that these days. Closed borders and lethal bombings, environmental crises and millions in exile, racism, homophobia, hunger. We have all but forgotten that people, even more than theologies and ideologies, matter most. But, scripture reminds us.
Simeon finds peace cradling the Christ child—fulfillment of the word, salvation of every people, light to all nations. Yet, still a child. A person. John implores us to remember: we who hate others are fooling ourselves into thinking that we live in light. We cannot experience the divine if we fail to care.
I must put down my anger, hatred, and fear of people. Advent is over. I have waited long enough. Now is the time for light and love.
—Eric Immel, S.J. is a Jesuit scholastic studying philosophy at Loyola University Chicago. He also serves as a Jesuit vocation promoter and is a prolific author.
Come, O God, and set me free. Break the chains that hold me hostage. Heal my heart with the new life and love of Jesus, born anew to our waiting world. Let the gifts and lessons of this Christmas week sink deep into my soul.
Blessed be God! Amen!”