“When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,
“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 your people Israel.”
And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “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.”
There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.” (Luke 2:22- 40)
One of the pitfalls, if you want to call it that, of commenting on and writing about scripture is that you encounter the same verses over and over again; and you start to wonder, “What I say about this? When did I write about it?” It seems to me that I wrote on this passage from Luke not that long ago, and I am fearful that whatever I say now, I might repeat myself.
So I look back at what I wrote, and search for other times and places that I have said something about this passage. Surely I have thought before what I am thinking now about this passage. Surely I said previously what I am thinking about saying now. Should I say it/write it and risk repeating myself? Should I think of something different to say and miss the opportunity to say/write something I have never shared before? Befuddlement clouds my thinking. And yet, and yet we re-visit these times and incidents in the life of Jesus Christ; and even if we visit the same “spot” and see the same things, it adds something to our lives and our faith experience each time.
Jesus was young at one point in his life; just learning and experiencing faith as we might (well, not EXACTLY as we might, but you know what I mean). We learn and grow; our faith expands, until we become what we were destined to be. Jesus also learned and grew, until he became who he was destined to be.
“Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”—not knowing what he said. While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.” (Luke 9:28-36)
As I alluded to yesterday, sometimes the changes that come about in encountering the Divine are not outward changes but inward changes. And we often do not have the words to talk about or explain those changes. But we pay attention to them.
Do you find it hard to believe, beloved reader, that we might change after encountering God? Not just changing as a non-believer changes to a believer of God. But changes that seem to affect our very physical/human nature? Changes as Moses changed to having a glowing face. Changes as Elijah changed to be able to see angels. Changes such that we affect other people in deep and significant ways. The Catholic faith believes that some people, by encountering the Divine throughout their lives, become “saints” and impact the lives of others. I am not one to dispute those claims. We have the capability to be conduits for God, and who can say how we might channel the Divine, and what we might be capable of – “miracles” as Jesus performed?
“On the next day, when they had come down from the mountain, a great crowd met him. Just then a man from the crowd shouted, “Teacher, I beg you to look at my son; he is my only child. Suddenly a spirit seizes him, and all at once he shrieks. It convulses him until he foams at the mouth; it mauls him and will scarcely leave him. I begged your disciples to cast it out, but they could not.” Jesus answered, “You faithless and perverse generation, how much longer must I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.” While he was coming, the demon dashed him to the ground in convulsions. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, healed the boy, and gave him back to his father. And all were astounded at the greatness of God.” (Verses 37 – 43a)
“Faithless and perverse” – awfully strong language. The Message puts it a little differently; “Jesus said, “What a generation! No sense of God! No focus to your lives! How many times do I have to go over these things? How much longer do I have to put up with this? Bring your son here.” (Verse 41) It almost seems like to be, beloved reader, that Jesus expects us to change and be able to truly help people and not just give words and teachings. How are we to respond to this implied challenge? Are we to go from being presented in our church to being transformed/transfigured by God? Mighty questions and pondering to take with us into the season of Lent.
May you, beloved reader, be nurtured by our God and be open to what God leads you to. Selah!