There are times when we all become consumed with longing–desires for an end to all the divisiveness in our nation. For all the problems in our weary world, we insist on visions of peace, we surrender to HOPE that reconciliation-true reconciliation between hostile peoples (yes, even in our families) will become realities; that all people will be free to know and Love God and their neighbor as themselves.
This is the longing, the hope, the faith of Simeon and Anna, the elder wisdom figures in the temple to which Mary and Joseph brought the child Jesus for his Presentation and Dedication to God. They grounded their lives on this longing, allowing their minds to keep focused on the blessings they experienced as part of a greater promise for all people.
We, too, our sorrows and disappointments notwithstanding, yes, even during these cynical times, must follow their example. We must not capitulate to the angers of the day.
This is especially important for those of us in our senior years because as we get older it gets easier and easier to hold on to memories of the negative events, the worst events of our lives. Far more readily do bad memories enter our consciousness than those that savor the good times. Today, on the Presentation of the Lord, we must reclaim the faith into which WE have been baptized. We were baptized into the promises of Christ that all life is blessed. God has brought us to this day for God’s good purposes. Yes, we’ve had bad times, sorrowful times, but also times of blessing–experiences of true love for us and with others. We must have faith that we will have these again.
In this the early decades of the 21st century, Simeon and Anna must become our Patron Saints. They had difficult lives, lived to an old age, but they held on to hope.
Hope is what Simeon and Anna saw in the child Jesus –hope that God’s Will would, in God’s good time, become the lived reality of the nations. Of course, their life experiences, like ours, brought them realistic expectations. Simeon acknowledges that often enough the true longings of human hearts encounters opposition–“contradicted.” Many people try the thwart the true, the good, the beautiful, often, but not always, because of their own sorrows and sufferings.
Simeon says this to Mary for the benefit of all. He acknowledges the reality of evil while naming its antidote: live with humility and honesty so that “the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.” This means that identification with the sorrows of others will liberate evil from the world. As we name a comprehensive TRUTH–the good and the bad from all sectors of God’s peoples–all perspectives—Grace will inspire us to take the next steps, the right steps forward.
Saint Paul described this in his letter to the Corinthians: love entails that people will “not rejoice in what is wrong but rejoice only in the truth.’’ In John’s Gospel Jesus insists “The Truth Will Set You Free.” As we come to the Eucharist today may we ask the Lord to strengthen us in the PROMISES OF CHRIST and truly believe and live confident that hope is eternal, and that hope is NOW for “THE KINGDOM IS AT HAND.”