The Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas
There is an ancient tradition that a child is not given to parents by God but only loaned to them for a short time. The Jewish rites surrounding birth contained this belief, especially of the first-born son.
The Presentation of Jesus in the temple had a significance his parents did not fully grasp. He, more than any other child, belonged in the temple–his Father’s house. He, more than any other child, was destined to offer sacrifice for the people. More than any other child, he would show the light of God’s salvation to all the nations.
We, too, belong to God: from birth because he created us, but mostly from our re-birth in baptism. And though we can freely choose to exercise our baptism, the more profound truth of the matter is that God has chosen us rather than we, God. Further, God has a mission for us: a way for us to cooperate with Him in His work of salvation. It may take us as long as it took Simeon to discover our mission, but there is no doubt that God has known it from the beginning.
Reflection by Abbot Benedict Neenan, OSB