29 December, 2017: Discerning the Divine Presence

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Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas

Reading: 1 Jn. 2. 3-11; Gospel: Luke 2: 22-35

The centre stage of today’s Gospel is shared along with Jesus by Simeon. This prophet, as the scripture says, was a native of Jerusalem who had been promised that he would see the Messiah. The day of the presentation of Jesus in the temple would have been a very normal one. The scripture does not speak of any supernatural phenomenon or extraordinary natural occurrence that took place when Jesus was presented in the temple. The parents of Jesus would have been so ordinary too. They would have resembled any other normal couple who come daily for the purification. Yet Simeon could sense the presence of the Divine and ran to the temple to behold the Holy Family. He was able to discern the Divine presence. This may not be the result of some long ascetical practices done by him. The evangelist mentions about two qualities that were in Simeon: he was filled with the Holy Spirit and looked for the restoration of Israel.

Simeon was a man filled with the Holy Spirit. One is reminded of the words of St. Paul that no one can say that Jesus is Christ except through the Holy Spirit. The scripture clearly says that Simeon was prompted by the Holy Spirit. One cannot believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ and find that Divine presence in others except through the grace of the Holy Spirit.

Simeon looked for the restoration of Israel. At that time there was a general uneasiness among the Jews on the one hand due to the oppression of Romans and on the other hand the authoritarianism of the Pharisees. Yet, in spite of this general gloomy atmosphere, he had a positive outlook. He was not carried away by pessimistic trends but looked ahead with hope.

The message that this Gospel passage gives us is to be people filled with hope for the future, whatever be the situation, and to pray for the gift of the Spirit so that we may discern the Divine everywhere.

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