Beginnings and Endings ( Canticle of Simeon Part 1 )

“ Lord, now let your servant go in peace, Your Word has been fulfilled, my own eyes have seen the salvation which You have prepared in the sight of every people. A light to reveal You to the nations, and the glory of Your people Israel”.

The setting for this canticle is at the Presentation of the Lord. Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple according to the custom , that every male child who “ opens the womb”shall be consecrated to God.

Simeon who is present at the temple, and filled with the Holy Spirit recognizes Jesus as the Messiah and makes the canticle proclamation We really don’t know too much about Simeon. There were, interestingly 3 different Simeon’s in the Bible. First there was Simeon , son of Jacob and Leah. The second was Simeon, who, after his conversion took the name “Simon Peter”, and then lastly there was Simeon, who is the author of this canticle. Simeon just seems to enter the story with the same amount of fanfare that he leaves with. The name Simeon is derived from the Hebrew word “Shama”which means “ to hear (God)”. Which is appropriate as it was revealed to Simeon through the Spirit that he would not pass away without first seeing the Messiah.

 

The canticle story holds certain dualities or parallels between the story and the things that may occur in our own lives.

First , Simon receives the revelation that he will not pass until he sees the Messiah. In our faith life, we receive God at Baptism. Baptism is the beginning of our faith journey. Mary, His mother, and Joseph, brought Jesus to the temple to consecrate him to God. This echoes i our own journey where our own mothers and fathers , traditionally bring their children to be Baptized into the faith sealed for God. Simeon , not only gets to see Jesus, with his eyes, but he also got to hold and carry Jesus ! In the same way, we hold Jesus and carry Him not only in our hearts , but we carry Him when we share His love with others, when we care for our brothers and sisters. Through this canticle it would seem that Simeon , who is now of some advanced age seems to believe that His life is now complete. He can die in peace, knowing that his promise has been fulfilled and that he has seen Jesus.

On the other side of the coin, there is Jesus whose earthly life is just beginning. In fact, aside from the Incarnation/Nativity which were mostly private, this can be seen as Jesus first move into the public religious journey, as is our own Baptism. In the same way, there are many who feel that once they enter the life of faith, and they have the opportunity to hold Jesus in their hearts , much like Simeon , they no longer desire their earthly life. Instead they want to go to Heaven to be with God. The problem with this idea is that although for people of faith, the entire idea and purpose of our lives is to get to Heaven , there is more to our existence than this.

One of the first questions that used to be taught to every child was this : “ Why am I here ?”. The answer to this question is this : “To know God, To love God, To serve God, So you can be with God in Heaven”. It is important in this scenario that what it does not say is “ To know God , to Love God, and go directly to Heaven! “. To SERVE God is a major component in this concept. It means that you can not dump your entire journey , or the crosses it contains for you. No matter where you are on your earthly journey or what your circumstances are in life, if you are open to God’s will for you , if you seek God in your present life, If you can be like Mary and say to God “ let it be done to me according to Your will.” then this is where we begin serving God and journeying through the mystery of our own faith life. In this canticle we see the ending of Simeon’s journey and the beginning of Jesus’ public journey.

In the same way there are many such symmetries in our lives. One journey ends and another begins. A child is born, and a new journey begins. A parent passes away and their earthly jouney ends. A new love beings and another love relationship ends. One job ends and another begins. Throughout the entirety of our lives we experience beginnings and ending of various parts of our journeys. Like Simeon who spent his life waiting to see the Messiah, we too must sometimes wait. The waiting can be the service, the waiting can be the cross , the waiting can be the fire through which the life of faith you live can be tempered and purified.

Ad Majoram Gloria Dei !

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