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40 days since Christmas. Old end of the Christmas season. “Circumcision”. The covenant with Abraham is brought to its fulfillment in Christ. Also the promise of Ezekiel that the Lord’s presence will return to the temple after the Lord’s glory had abandoned the temple due to sacrileges practiced by His priests (a fitting message for our times as well).
Two words from Simeon today really point us forward to the Paschal Mystery, especially Good Friday: “A sword will pierce your heart.” “A sign that will be contradicted.”
“A sign that will be contradicted.” It seems that whenever we stand up for Christ, we will receive some opposition. First, we need to discern well if we are really standing with Jesus or standing with some ideology that seems to fit Christ when looked at from a specific lens. Secondly, this doesn’t mean that we should be provoking opposition, but that we shouldn’t be shocked when it comes. Jesus didn’t provoke. Even His coming as a child and his years of hidden life show that He was not trying to bring about separation and division, but truly tried to draw people to himself.
“A sword will pierce your heart.” Nothing hurts more than when that separation is from those you love the most. Family and friends at times will not share our faith or our enthusiasm for being Christian. This may cause grief and a type of “death” but should not rob our hope in Christ, nor should it destroy our love for them. We must pray, witness, and love them as they make their way through the five steps of conversion we spoke of last week: initial trust, curiosity, openness, seeking/pursuing, and discipleship.
The God of infinite power returns to His temple in this way. What a surprise.
Babies need parents. You only exist today because you were loved day after day by someone. My little nephew with his floppy head and hilarious arm skills is proof that we couldn’t survive on our own. God chose to make himself one of us, and thus chose to make himself “need” us for a little bit, just as we really do need God for every moment of our existence, for every breath.