The 5th Day of Christmas Octave
( 1 John 2: 3 – 11; Ps 96; Luke 2: 22 – 35)
In all of 8 verses St. Luke gives us a good bit of information about Simeon -some one he had never seen and surely what we heard in the account came to Luke from an eyewitness, Mary the Mother of Jesus. She would ponder his prophecy all her days: “This child is destined to be the downfall and the rise of many in Israel…and you yourself will be pierced with a sword.” How could she not ponder these words and not pass them onto Luke?
In the account, there is this wondrous statement: “He (Simeon) took Him into his arms and blessed God.” In both the New Testament and in the writings of the saints, there are any number of ways that the Incarnation “the word becoming ﬂesh” is expressed and the verse: “He (Simeon) took Him into his arms and blessed God” is one that is very brief and exceedingly profound.
A man literally holds God, a mortal caresses Immortality, and is able to hold God the Son because God in His inﬁnite love sent His Son into the world, our world. Jesus is held as an infant, a dependent child and the reality is beyond us and the reality is true, real, wonderful!
Our Cistercians Fathers have the gift of putting into a few words a mystery like the incarnation. One of them, John of Ford (+1214) wrote this:
“Eternity compressed itself – Immensity straightened itself –
Omnipotence weakened itself – Wisdom emptied itself and became foolishness.
And all this for no other reason except that we should be able to seize Jesus.”
In a few moments, my brothers and sisters, we will seize Jesus in Holy Communion; we will hold Him and be held by Him, we will consume Him and be consumed by Him – this most holy “seizing” is mutual. For us, the Incarnation is now and repeated everyday for our sake.
There is a prayer recited by the priest as he puriﬁes the paten and chalice after Mass; it is most ﬁtting for us: “What has passed our lips as food, O Lord, may we possess in purity of heart that what has been given to us in time may be our healing for eternity.”