The Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas
The smile of an infant lying in its mother’s arms can touch the heart of anyone. Sometimes people even find a new language of cooing with the little one to show their joy. Today’s Gospel story of Joseph and Mary bringing their child for the required temple rites seems to focus on the experience of the elderly Simeon. He was a faithful and holy man who prayed regularly in the temple and carried a personal secret into his old age. The Spirit of God had told him that he would not see death before he had seen the Messias, the hope of the people.
It’s not hard to imagine the impact this event must have had on Simeon when it finally happened. My favorite image of this experience is captured in a painting by Ron DiCianni called Simeon’s Moment. With his head thrown back in awesome gratitude Simeon held the child in his arms and the floodgates of a lifetime of waiting were thrown open. Even though it was intensely personal, this moment resounded with meaning around the world. The DiCianni painting captured the ecstatic face of Simeon while it was incorporated into a cosmic background. The joy of seeing the promised Light of the world could help not but radiate that light to the entire world.
But look closely and notice a tear coming from Simeon’s eye. Was it a tear of absolute joy and gratitude, or was it a prophetic tear containing the future pain and suffering of all those who would carry this hope into the world?
Can we begin to realize the Simeon experience in our life? With the help of the Spirit already given to us in baptism can we name the person for whom we long on a daily basis? What is the meaning of the tear flowing from our eye?
Reflection by Fr. Daniel Petsche, OSB