When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord, and to offer the sacrifice of a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons, in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord. Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying: “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.” The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2:22-35)
Today’s Gospel continues the narrative of the life of Jesus. Mary and Joseph, following the law, bring the baby Jesus to present him to the Lord. There they meet Simeon, who had spent most of his day in the temple in prayer and worship and in humble and faithful expectation for the day that the Lord would comfort his people.
When Joseph and Mary presented the child Jesus in the temple, Simeon immediately recognized the Lord’s presence in his temple. Simeon then utters the prophecy:
“Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.””
There it is. Jesus was a sign that will be contradicted. And so are we who follow Christ. We live our faith by contradicting the world around us. And, in truth, if we are not contradicting the world, we are not living our faith.
For many, this is not a preferred path. After all, many live their life to not only be known by others but to be liked by others. Esteem is often built, not by what we see in the mirror but rather by those words and actions that make us popular – that make us like “them.” But living life in that manner not only leads a person down a dangerous path but ultimately robs a person of their God given identity – of their God given gifts – of their God given purpose.
Just as Jesus stood opposite the religious beliefs of His day. Just as Jesus stood opposite the mores and beliefs of His culture. Just as Jesus stood opposite the world’s values, so too do we.
The great sign of Jesus’ contradiction is the Cross, where the vertical bar of divine worship contradicted the horizontal bar of worldliness.
By following Christ in our lives, we proclaim something radically different than the world’s vales – we proclaim Christ’s values. Values that live and speak out against ideas and words that seek to subvert love of one another, respect for one another, acceptance of one another, tolerance of those that speak or appear different from us.
We give thanks to God for helping us to find in Christ our resurrection, not ruin, our confirmation not contradiction, and we pray that we will all be strengthened so that our “yes” to God echoing Christ’s might in contradicting the world’s “no” come to help the world to discover the truth about things and unite us in building His kingdom on earth.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, you are my hope and my life. May I never cease to place all my trust in you. Fill me with the joy and strength of the Holy Spirit that I may boldly point others to your saving presence and words of everlasting life.”
Jesus, as we encounter him here in this temple, seeks to renew us as his light so that, as he told us in the Sermon on the Mount, our light might shine before others who, in seeing our good deeds, may give glory to our Father in heaven. Jesus is indeed the Light of revelation to the Gentiles, but the way he intends to bring that light to all the nations is by sending us, one candle at a time, burning with his holy flame, to light everyone the whole world ablaze with the light of his truth and the warmth of his love. That’s what the Holy Spirit wants to move us and help us to do.