“For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples…”Luke 2
As I was pondering on Simeon and Anna, our two prophets from the gospel we heard at mass today, I wondered – how did they know that this baby was the One? Didn’t they witness many mothers and fathers coming to the temple with their first-born sons? But, prompted by the Holy Spirit, they believed that this baby was the One to bring salvation for all people. What did that feel like?
This thought led me to remember the times I have been brought to tears by something that at first glance seems nothing to cry about. It is usually something beautiful. When I see a newborn baby for the first time, witness a couple in love getting married, when I watch Lipizzaner horses perform, or Liberty horses. And I remember my Dad trying to stifle tears as we watched the Sound of Music as the Vonn Trapp family escaped over the mountains. So, I cried, too. Why was I crying at these things? I didn’t know why I was crying.
After sitting with these tears, and letting them speak to me, I’ve come to think of these tears as tears of hope. With every child that comes into our world, ready to be loved and ready to learn how to love, there is this crazy, wordless hope that this time this child will grow up in love. When I see that newly wed couple, I have this crazy, wordless hope that this couple’s love will grow and spill over to bless the world. When I watch Lipizzaner or Liberty horses performing with their people, there is this crazy, wordless hope that Creation and humanity can one day be at One.
So, I wonder if Simeon and Anna had a feeling like that. Did unbidden tears run down their faces? Here was this baby, the One they’d been waiting for, and they must have been filled with crazy hope. The light of God had come into the world. The potential for the salvation of the whole world could be held in their arms. I now realize that the tears also flow because the light of God, the salvation for the world, the potential for love, for creation and humanity to be One comes into a world that not only rejects it but fights against it.
Sadly, as we witness all too clearly in our world today, people often prefer to hide from the light. They don’t want the light to reveal what is in their hearts; they don’t want to see the evil, the corruption, the meanness that accompanies their privilege, status, wealth and power. Many cannot tolerate those who bring the light and let it shine, revealing the brokenness of this world. Why? Because the brokenness works for them. They become angry with those who threaten the good opinion they have of themselves.
Those who follow Christ become bearers of the light, and this demands authenticity and integrity from us. We must begin by letting the light shine into our own hearts first, and admitting that we, too, have a share in the corruption of God’s creation. Only when we see our entanglement with the way things are can we hope to understand the temptations we face every day. We let the light in to reveal our secret thoughts, so we can be healed. Once we are healed, we can go out our doors to heal others trapped in the brokenness of our world.
And every time a new baby comes into this world, we can hope; when a new couple gets married, when we witness the harmony between humanity and creation – we can hope with a crazy hope that this time God’s plan will work, and love will triumph, and all will be well.
My beloved ones, let this Christmas season inspire you with hope and courage.