|Barbara Martin Ryan ‘90
As I read and reflected upon today’s gospel passage, I found myself drawn to the figure of Simeon.
He is “righteous and devout” and “the Holy Spirit rested on him.” He is guided by the Spirit to the temple, where he encounters Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. I was struck by the fact that he immediately recognized Jesus—an infant of obviously humble origins—as the Messiah. Jesus was just a baby, and hadn’t yet done anything to prove or suggest that he was the Messiah.
In all of his years of waiting for the Messiah, what type of person did Simeon have in mind to look for? Was he was expecting someone different, perhaps in the form of a charismatic and powerful political or military leader? Whatever his expectation, he puts it aside when he sees Jesus. He embraces him lovingly and praises God. And, despite the fact that he will not live to see Jesus’ earthly ministry, passion, and resurrection, he believes—he is absolutely certain that he has seen the Messiah.
What accounts for such certitude? I believe that Simeon had developed such an intimate relationship with God the Father that he could not fail to recognize the human form of God’s Son. And how did Simeon develop such a relationship? Through consistent prayer, openness to the Holy Spirit, and a childlike trust in God. He was able to know not by use of his intellect and reason, but through the understanding of his heart and soul.
May we all continue to strive for an enduring faith like Simeon’s, and be open to encountering Jesus in the unlikeliest of people and circumstances.
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