December 29, 2017
Lord, the Roman hyacinths are blooming in bowls and
The winter sun creeps by the snow hills;
The stubborn season has made stand.
My life is light, waiting for the death wind,
Like a feather on the back of my hand.
Dust in sunlight and memory in corners
Wait for the wind that chills towards the dead land....
According to thy word,
They shall praise Thee and suffer in every generation
With glory and derision,
Light upon light, mounting the saints’ stair.
Not for me the martyrdom, the ecstasy of thought and prayer,
Not for me the ultimate vision.
Grant me thy peace.
(And a sword shall pierce thy heart,
—T.S. Eliot, "A Song for Simeon"
For years and years, Simeon went to the temple each day, waiting for the arrival of the Messiah. He trusted in the promise he had received from the Holy Spirit: "that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord" (Luke 2:26). And so day after day, he went to the temple to watch and pray. Years passed, decades passed; still, he waited in the Temple. Surely, this routine must have become mundane. Perhaps in the beginning, it would have seemed exciting to know that today might be the day he would greet the Messiah—but after so many years of uneventful waiting, it would be easy to forget that sense of wonder. Did Simeon still wake up each morning, even in his old age, aware that today's routine might lead to something miraculous? That today might bring the fulfillment of all God's promises? I think Simeon's remarkable faith in his encounter with the Holy Family at the Presentation shows his keen awareness of God's presence in every moment. He expected the unexpected: to experience God breaking into the ordinary circumstances of his life.
This Christmas feast is a time to remember that God is with us here and now, not in some distant future. Even as we await the fullness of Heaven, the Kingdom of God is now at hand. The only thing that can keep us from the light of His grace is our own blindness, our hardness of heart. Let us open our eyes to see the "true light [that] is already shining" (1 John 2:8)—Emmanuel, God with us.
"Lord, now let your servant go in peace;
your word has been fulfilled:
my own eyes have seen the salvation
which you prepared in the sight of every people,
a light to reveal you to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel."