December 28, 2014 Click on the left end of the black bar to play/pause
December 28, 2014
Fr. George Smiga
Today’s gospel tells us that God made a specific promise to Simeon. The text reads: “And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he saw the Christ of the Lord.” But that’s all the text says. It is short on details. The text does not tell us how it was revealed to Simeon. Did he receive a vision? Did he hear it in a dream? Or was there a sudden, emphatic confidence in his gut? The text does not tell us when it was revealed to Simeon. Did he receive this promise a few months before he met the Holy Family in the temple? Or was this promise given to him decades earlier while he was still a teenager?
If we accept the latter possibility—and there is no reason why we should not—it means that Simeon waited his entire life for the promise to be fulfilled. That is a lifetime of getting up each day saying, “Maybe today is going to be the day,” and finding that it is not. That is so many occasions to doubt, “Did I hear it correctly? Did God really promise me? Has God changed his mind?” That is years of frustration, asking, “What’s the holdup? Why is this taking so long?”
Because Simeon waited his entire life for the promise, he is an example for us on how to wait. Simeon waited with faith and with patience. In faith, he continued to believe that what was said to him was true. In patience, he held on because he knew that God might choose to take time to deliver.
All of us wait for good things in our lives, things we desire, things that we need. But God does not promise us in the same way he promised Simeon. God does not promise us within a time frame. God does not say, “You will find someone to love and marry by your next birthday. You will find a job by next week. Your granddaughter or grandson will quit abusing drugs by this summer.” God does not promise us with a timeline, but God promises us nevertheless. And God promises us at the highest level. God promises us fullness of life, eternal joy, and his constant presence. And Jesus is our guarantee that the promises are real. You see, what we celebrate this Christmas season is that God was serious enough about his promises that he became one of us. The gift of Jesus is the guarantee that God can be trusted.
But even with that guarantee, we must still wait, and that is why the example of Simeon’s faith and patience is important. In faith, we believe that what God has done is real, that Christ has come and that God has given us life. In patience, we hold on because we understand that God can take time. Even if the promise is delayed, it can still come. Even if the promise is not fulfilled immediately, it does not mean we are forgotten.
We stand then with Simeon in faith and patience. In faith believing that Christ has come and the promise has been made. In patience because we understand that although salvation is coming, it may not arrive today.