Reflection— v.34, ‘…a sign that will be opposed…’
When Mary and Joseph bring Jesus into the Temple, he is blessed by Simeon. The blessing contains an unexpected reversal, not unlike what we encounter in the Magnificat and the Beatitudes. The child is a ‘sign that will be opposed’ and one ‘destined for the falling and rising of many’ (v. 34). This is one of the most mysterious truths about the way God saves us. We long for salvation, and yet when it comes, we resist. Our plight is so hopelessly desperate that the powers we need saving from are not only the ones outside of us, but those inside, as well. Our inner thoughts—like the thoughts of the proud scattered by God’s mighty arm in the Magnificat—are revealed as God comes to us in the guise of a poor child, a radical prophet, a friend of sinners, a lover of enemies, a crucified savior. This is not the salvation we want, and we push back against it violently. But it is the salvation we need. Notice Simeon’s playful language. First, the sign causes us to fall—to fall upon our illusions and self-delusions, our false selves and our hustles. But we fall only so that we may rise with him whom we have crucified. We are ransomed, redeemed, reborn. This is the promise of Christmas.
Prayer Oh God, in your mercy, save us by the sign we most resist–your cross.