Watching Like Simeon
A Christmastide and Year’s End Reflection [25DEC12—01JAN13]
Readings: Psalm 148, 103 ◊ Jeremiah 31:16-17 ◊ Isaiah 12:2 ◊ Luke 2:22-35
Thus says the LORD: “Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for there is a reward for your work, says the LORD. There is hope for your future.” (Jeremiah 31:16-17)
Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the LORD God is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation. (Isaiah 12:2)
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. (Luke 2:25)
As I reflect on the days of Advent and into the Days of Christmas, a couple of thoughts I have had seem more prominent than the rest.
First, are a few thoughts I’ve had about the person-prophet Simeon. Here is a man who appears to have lived most of his life in relative obscurity…at least it seems so from the biblical record. The narrative record teaches about Simeon that he was a righteous and devout man, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested upon him. He was looking for Jesus. Because he was devoutly and faithfully looking for Jesus, the Holy Spirit of God promised him he would not die before seeing him. He (Simeon) would see the consolation of Israel—the very consolation of the whole world.
For Christmas is not merely a day like every other day. It is a day made holy and special by a sacred mystery. It is not merely another day in a weary round of time. Today, eternity enters into time, and time, sanctified, is caught up into eternity… We are then, above all, obliged to reveal Christ in our lives… Every day of our mortal lives must be His manifestation, His divine Epiphany, in the world which He has created and redeemed.” -Thomas Merton
And Simeon saw Jesus. Simeon was alert—paying attention—he had ears to hear and eyes to see. He was not caught up in the distractions of the day. His relationship with God was intimate; “The Holy Spirit rested on him.”
The second thing I’ve been considering is the absurdity of the time and place of Jesus’ birth. It makes me wonder if many of us in this modern and over-busy world would recognize his coming today. We people living in “first world” countries have a debilitating habit and hunger for the loud, proud, and shiny things. Many of us like busy and entertainment filled lives; we do not crave the quiet or silence, and many of us do not like being alone or in solitude.
Jesus was born in the shadows…and lived in relative poverty on the edges of his society hidden from the world’s stage for more than ninety percent of his life. Would we know him? Would we recognize him as Simeon did? In all likelihood, many who claim to know him today probably would not have recognized him then… Truthfully, many who say they know him today, probably would not recognize him if they saw him face-to-face today.
“How can we expect to find Jesus if we do not seek him in the states of this earthly life, in loneliness and silence in poverty and suffering, in persecution and contempt, in annihilation and the cross?”-Francois Fenelon
I want to be like Simeon. I want to be and be known as a righteous and devout man. I want to be a man always watching and looking for Jesus. I want to always have the Holy Spirit of God upon and within me. When Jesus appears, whenever and wherever and in whomever that may be…I want to recognize him. Every. Time. Like Simeon.
As I sit here, the beating of my heart, the ebb and flow of my breathing, the movements of my mind are all signs of God’s ongoing creation of me. I pause for a moment…And become aware of this presence of God.
I ask for the grace to let go of my own concerns and be open to what God is asking me. I ask You, O God, to keep me humbled—always driving me to Your feet—beneath Your cross, which has saved me. Help me to remain as one who is poor in spirit, always guided and formed by Your hand, my Loving Creator.
Lord, hear my prayer. And let my cry come unto You. Let us bless the Lord.
Blessed are you, LORD the God of Israel, you have come to your people and set them free.
The Word became flesh and lived among us, full of grace and truth. In him was life,, and the life was the light of all.
You have raised up for us a mighty Savior, born of the house of your servant David.
The Word became flesh and lived among us, full of grace and truth—Emmanuel! God is with us—In him is life, and that life is the light of all.
Through your holy prophets, you promised of old to save us from our enemies, from the hands of all who hate us.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen