Saturday, February 2, 2019

With Simeon

“Simeon took the child Jesus in his arms and blessed God, saying: ‘Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation.’” With these words Simeon is telling us the story of his life - his life of waiting, yearning, longing. But what about us? What about the story of our lives? What good is it if Simeon receives the child Jesus in his arms, if we do not? What good is it if Simeon’s eyes see salvation if our eyes do not? How do we let the truth of this charming story transcend its particular history? There clearly is an historical truth to this story, but there is also a cosmic truth, a truth that is not limited by any one specific time and place. A truth that touches, invades, embraces every time and place.  This story is as much ours as it is Simeon’s.

Simeon lived the many days, years, decades of his life waiting, hoping, trusting, expecting. How many times he must have come to the Temple wondering: “Is this the day I will see salvation? Is this the day I will experience the fulfillment of the promise?” We all know what it is like to wait - for a change in our life circumstances, for a grief to diminish, for a prayer to be answered, for joy to return, for forgiveness, for meaning and purpose, for new life. We wait and hope for all sorts of things. Showing up is the key, the miracle of Simeon’s life, just as it is the key, the miracle of our lives. We show up here trusting, hoping that God is really present and working in our lives even if we can’t see or clearly understand how. We show up and we wait as Simeon did.

Sometimes showing up is the most difficult work we do, and it takes all that we have just to show up, to remain awake and vigilant, to hope and trust. Somehow, showing up is the means through which God fulfills the promise to us just as he did with Simeon. The real miracle is not Simeon’s age. The real miracle is that he never walked away from the promise. He never stopped showing up. At every moment God is waiting for us to show up - to be here and now, to let go of regrets of the past and fears of the future. Simeon thought he was waiting for the child to show up. But what if it was really Jesus waiting for Simeon to show up? Simeon thought he was presenting the child to God. But what if it was really the Child presenting the old man to God? Every day that Simeon showed up, the Child Jesus was seeing and upholding Simeon. Just as he sees and upholds us.

My brothers and sisters, the presentation of Jesus does not happen only in the Temple of Jerusalem but in the temple of our lives, every moment of every day, day after day, month after month, year after year, decade after decade. And it always happens in the midst of our waiting. It happens every time we show up to the reality of our lives. 

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, The Presentation in the Temple with the Angel, c. 1630, etching, 4 x 3 in. Alva de Mars Megan Chapel Art Center, Saint Anselm College. Meditation by Father Abbot  with excerpts from Interrupting the Silence blog.