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The Gift of Obedience
Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas
When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, the parents of Jesus took him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord, and to offer the sacrifice of a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons, in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord. Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying: “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.” The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
Opening Prayer: Lord, I present myself to you in prayer this morning as the Holy Family presented themselves to you in the temple. Bless me, speak to me, anoint me, and send me on my way with your blessing.
- Obedience to the Law: Greater royalty never lived! Yet, the Holy Family considered themselves subject to the law of their day, not above it. According to the law, every firstborn male belonged to God and needed to be redeemed for a price. Mary and Joseph not only followed the prescription of the law, but they did so humbly, bringing for their offering what the poor could afford: two turtle doves. They asked for no exception, even though the law didn’t apply to them. What a lesson can be drawn from their breathtaking docility! Should we doubt that acts of obedience such as these please our Father? Jesus told St. Faustina, “My daughter, know that you give me greater glory by a single act of obedience than by long prayers and mortifications” (Diary 894).
- Simeon Was Waiting: The Scriptures tell us Simeon was “righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.” He lived in the Spirit and allowed himself to be led by the Spirit. Inspired by the Spirit, Simon was waiting for no less than the arrival of the Savior of the world—and his expectations were met. He came to the temple in the Spirit precisely as Mary and Joseph arrived with Jesus. Simon embodied a soul who seeks first the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33) and received all else from God’s hand. To be so connected to the vine (John 15:5) requires obedience to God’s will, purity of intention, and great love. As we journey through the Christmas season, what keeps us from living in the Spirit like Simeon?
- A Sword?: Mary and Joseph were “amazed” at what was said about Jesus, but Mary was then told that a sword would one day pierce her heart. Even though God can give us consolation when we meditate on his Incarnation and our subsequent redemption, we cannot avoid trials, pains, and sufferings while we’re here on this earth. We relish consolations with hearts full of gratitude and rely on Jesus, the light of the nations and the glory of Israel, to bless us so that even our suffering is made sweet because of its redemptive power.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, I want to be a vessel of the Holy Spirit, so connected to you that “in you I live and move and have my being” (Acts 17:28). Grant me the grace to love you this way. I want to rejoice in your consolation and offer you every suffering.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will conform my will to the will of others, as appropriate, confident that my obedience will please you.
For Further Reflection: Read The Sanctifier for insight about the Holy Spirit.
Written by Maribeth Harper.