Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Wish Fulfilled: Simeon

Image from "The Nativity Story" ©2006 New Line Cinema

     Not only would the shepherds experience the awe and wonder of the new arrival. For years, Simeon had know about the coming of the Christ child.  

     And he had waited...for years. Years of faithfully serving His Lord, believing in the Holy Spirit's promise that he would not see death until his eyes beheld the Savior of the world.  But this devout man was aging.  His body was worn out, his eyes dim.  He wondered if he would survive to see this long anticipated event.  How would the child Christ appear?  As a normal infant, brown and bellowing? Or would a glow surround His body to reveal His identity?  Surely He would be born of a wealthy family... These thoughts lingered in his mind, rising again each time a young family would come to dedicate their precious offspring to the Lord.

     The day dawned as usual, and Simeon headed to the temple to pray.  This day, he felt a certain urgency. Instead of stopping to talk with the Teachers of the Law, as was his habit, Simeon's feet propelled him forward, as though they had a mission.

     As he entered the Temple, Simeon noticed a young couple, dressed in ragged clothing, conversing with the priest. The babe in arms, and two caged turtle doves in hand revealed their purpose: to dedicate their firstborn to the Lord.  It was a familiar scene, but this time, something was different.  Simeon drew closer. A celestial force, a spirit too strong to resist urged him onward. 

In an instant, the words of the prophets came to him: "...and His name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of  Peace."  What did he know of the child's future, other than the voices of the prophets of old?  

     Simeon was now standing alongside the mother, who gazed up at him with questioning eyes.  The old man couldn't resist.  He reached down to touch the babe, sleeping peacefully in his mother's protective arms. She, in response, raised Jesus to Simeon's hands.  In one motion, this tiny being made in God's image, was lifted to Heaven. Words spilled from Simeon's lips as he blessed the most High God. "Now let me depart in peace, Lord, for my eyes have seen your Salvation, which you have prepared for all mankind. A light for the Gentiles, and the glory of your people, Israel."

     In wonder, Joseph and his wife, Mary, took in the words.  What could this mean?  Simeon continued the blessing; this time, for the couple,  "This child is appointed to be the rise and fall of many in Israel." He stopped, and looked directly at Mary. "Yes, a sword will pierce your own soul, and this will all happen so the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."

     The family of three left the Temple, bathed in the glow of Simeon's blessing.  For many years afterwards, Mary in particular, would ponder his words.  Simeon beamed as well, with the knowledge that he, Simeon, had held and beheld the precious, foretold Son of God. He was not sure he wished to see the words fulfilled. 

     Weary but peaceful, Simeon trudged home, his pace heavy, but his heart light.  He laid his aching body down, never to rise again in this world.

                    -from "Christmas Musings" by Jarm Del Boccio ©2012

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