There’s something notably touching about the story of Simeon, whom we are told was among the first in society to welcome the baby Jesus into the world.
We heard the story at Mass today—where we learned that Simeon was a righteous and devout man, one who spent his days in the Temple ‘awaiting the consolation of Israel.’
I’m guessing that Simeon seemed harmless enough. Still, the encounter must have caused at least a bit of consternation on the part of Mary and Joseph. Simeon was more or less a stranger, after all. And an old geezer at that. But there he goes, reaching out to take the tiny 40-day-old infant from Mary’s arms.
It reminded me a bit of the first time I got to hold my granddaughter—nearly two years ago now. You might say I was kinda out of practice—not having been around babies much for the past 25 years or so. My son and daughter-in-law certainly encouraged the bonding moment, but I also had the distinct sense that they were keeping a close eye on Gramps…just to make sure he hadn’t lost his touch.
But in Mary’s case, all those reservations—about handing her infant over to this presumptuously affectionate graybeard—must have melted away when she heard the words that came pouring forth from Simeon’s mouth:
Lord, now you let your servant go in peace;
Your word has been fulfilled.
My eyes have seen the salvation
You have prepared in the sight of every people,
A light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people, Israel.
Clearly, Simeon had the good sense to take deep delight in this precious moment – in his personal encounter with the presence of God.
Are we as aware as Simeon, I wonder, of the Miracle always in our midst? Are we as delighted by the Incarnate One, whom we too are invited to hold in our hands?
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy & Merciful One.