Monday, June 03, 2013

A Thought for Monday 6/3/13

“Simeon blessed [Joseph, Mary, and Jesus], and said to Mary, ‘Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed’.”  Luke 2:34-35 NKJV

This was the occasion in which Jesus was presented to the Lord in the Temple in accordance with the Law and the Holy Family’s faithfulness.  The Holy Spirit had led Simeon to the Temple to see the Baby because he had been assured that he “would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah”.  So this was an incredible moment of divine fulfillment for Simeon as he offered his praise to the Lord: “now You are letting Your servant depart in peace according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.”

Simeon also saw the foreboding nature of Jesus’ ministry that would eventually unfold, a sign which “will be spoken against”; the very sign the late Pope Paul VI referred to as a “sign of contradiction” as the world would continue, even after Jesus’ death, to struggle against the “Word made flesh”, demanding freedom not in the Word but from the Word.

It does not seem to be enough, however, that the many would simply walk away.  They seem to choose, more often than not, to walk away angrily and noisily to try and somehow justify their decision to themselves and perhaps to others to divorce themselves from the Word and Messiah’s Church by blaming someone else (whomever may be convenient), and ultimately living out Simeon’s prophesy as the “hearts … revealed”.  We must not forget, however, that often people have found it much easier to walk away because the Church has historically been very good at trying to hold others accountable for their actions but have failed to offer real and earnest support.  As stated in the United Methodist Book of Discipline, “Support without accountability promotes moral weakness; accountability without support is a form of cruelty” (¶102, pg 53).  Simeon may have been prophesying as much against the future Church as against those who would choose to “speak against” the Holy Revelation of Messiah.

Let us dare to look more closely at who we are and what we do.  We the Church must not be the fulfillment of Simeon’s prophecy as a “sign of contradiction” but rather a sign of fulfillment, a sign of mercy and peace, the means of grace whose “light” may serve as a beacon to those who cannot find their way.  This may not be exactly who we currently are, but it is clearly what we have been called to be.



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