THE Gospel of Luke says: When the day came for the purification according to the law of Moses, they brought the baby up to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord. Every first born male shall be consecrated to God. And they offered a sacrifice, as ordered in the law of the Lord: a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.
There lived in Jerusalem at this time a very upright and devout man named Simeon; the Holy Spirit was in him. He looked forward to the time when the Lord would comfort Israel, and he had been assured, by the Holy Spirit, that he would not die before seeing the Messiah of the Lord. So he was let into the Temple by the Holy Spirit at the time the parents brought the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law.
Simeon took the child in his arms, and blessed God, saying, “Now, O Lord, you can dismiss your servant in peace, for you have fulfilled your word and my eyes have seen your salvation, which you display for all the people to see. Here is the light you will reveal to the nations, and the glory of your people Israel”. His father and mother wondered at what was said about the child. Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary, his mother, “Know this: your son is a sign, a sign established for the falling and rising of many in Israel, a sign of contradiction; and a sword will pierce your own soul, so that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed.
On a personal note – Mary and Joseph went to the temple to fulfill a ritual of the Jewish religion: (Lev 12:8). Jesus being a first-born male must be connected to God (Ex 13:1)
Simeon and Anna like Mary and Joseph belong to the “small remnant of Israel”. This minority of God’s people live their faith in humility and faithfulness to the prophets’ teaching. God knows how to make himself known to them.
What is the meaning of the sword that will pierce Mary’s soul? It indicates Mary’s grief upon seeing her Son die on the cross. It also signifies that Mary will suffer because she will not always understand what her Son does. The best shared love will not prevent each from remaining a mystery to the other, and more so for God and for anyone else. God does not watch our fidelity from heaven, but rather seeks us (he tries us in the sense of asking us to reveal ourselves). The love of the Father will be Mary’s cross just as it would be for Jesus.
Christ is God’s light which lightens people, but which also blinds and confuses them at times. He is a sign that is opposed, but this is a mystery – those who oppose him are not always the worst. There are some people who believe in Christ, but do not follow him. Unable to see his light they do not know that it condemns them. There are good people who do not believe because God wills that they seek the light their whole life long.
I wish all the readers of my column a Happy New Year. And I want to tell them that my daughter Liesbeth had a successful delivery. She suffered a lot during her pregnancy like Mary. But, thanks be to God, now she is happy. The baby is a boy, called Arnold Joseph, called after me, his grandfather. As I have said before, Liesbeth is like a co-creator because of her pregnancy and delivery like any other pregnant woman is. I believe, as long as she trust in God, her Creator.
For your comment email: nolvanvugt @gmail.com
Published in the SunStar Cagayan de Oro newspaper on December 31, 2017.