Imagine the joy of your newborn child. He came to you in the strangest of ways. Already you have been visited by angels encouraging you with the astonishing news that you will have a son by the Holy Spirit. How do you tell your parents? How do you face your friends and family? How do you avoid scandal? It seems that scandal would be the most likely response.
You might also consider hiding with the child, despite the encouragement of the heavenly messengers. Instead of hiding Mary and Joseph call for their son to be circumcised on the eighth day after his birth. They were following religious custom and practice. They were worshiping God with this action. Then, following their religious devotion once again, they appear in public in the temple to make sacrifices and celebrate their child. They were doing what any good Jewish parent would do with a new son. They were acting boldly, given the challenges of his scandalous birth. However, their eyes were not fully opened to what was happening.
Suddenly, a man, named Simeon, wanders into the temple. He was a good and righteous man. God had made him a promise: He would see the Messiah before he died. On that day when Jesus was presented in the temple the Spirit of the Lord nudged Simeon to go to the temple. Suddenly, the young parents were confronted with this Spirit-filled man. He took the baby in his arms and gave praise to God. The scandal was now a blessing. The embarrassment was now the hope of the nations. Here Simeon's beautiful song:
"Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to you people Israel" (Luke 2:29-32). His blessing didn't stop there. It became a prophetic vision and promise:"This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed--and a sword will pierce your own soul too" (Luke 2:34-35).
So, there it is. Mary and Joseph entered the temple filled with joy for the birth of their baby boy. They knew he was a promised and cherished child. They had submitted themselves to the will and working of the Lord. Now, with eyes wide open they are confronted with the destiny of the one they whole so precious and dear. I wonder if at Christmas we enter the reality for these twelve days with our eyes wide open to all of the possibilities of life made possible by this Jesus. Are we the ones falling or the ones rising through the birth, life, suffering, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus? Will we simply do our religious duty by showing up to see Jesus in the sanctuary, or will we expect with eyes wide open to see Jesus enfleshed in the challenges and joys of life.
May we pray: O God, you have given light by which we may see your glory: As we are flooded by the light of your Incarnate Word, we pray that what shines by faith in our hearts may be ablaze in our actions; Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.