Fifth Day of the Octave of Christmas
(I John 2:3-11; Luke 2:22-35)
Biblical experts say that in the eyes of Luke, the evangelist, the story of salvation is written in three volumes. The first volume is the entire Old Testament. The second is the gospel of Jesus which Luke wrote. And the third volume is the Acts of the Apostles which Luke also composed. In the gospel passage that we just heard we meet three characters who connect the three parts of the story. Although Simeon is not mentioned in the Old Testament, he is like many pious men who lived before Christ. He has patiently waited for God to save his people. Mary has a central role in the birth of Jesus and will be seen also in the Acts of the Apostles. The one actor who is met here as well as throughout the three volumes is the Holy Spirit. His presence assures that God is in control of the action.
When Simeon sees Jesus, he calls him “the light to the nations.” He recognizes that Jesus will do more than offer salvation to the people of Israel; he will reconcile all nations of the earth under God. In this way he fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah, “One nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.” Simeon says some enigmatic words to Mary: “…and you yourself a sword will...” We are used to thinking of this prophecy as referring to Mary’s witnessing the death of her son on the cross. However, the experts say they more likely refer to Mary being tested like everyone else as for or against the light of the world. Of course, she proves herself with the light as she is the first to listen to the word of God and to put it into practice.
We finish the story of salvation by imitating Mary. We want to faithfully keep God’s laws but not in the sense that we fear doing something wrong. Rather we will keep the new law of love which Jesus has given. We will amplify his light in the world by refusing to treat anyone with indifference, much less hatred. We will make his light shine by having patience and compassion for all.