Lk 2:22-32 (or Lk 2:22-40)
When the day came for the purification according to the law of Moses, they brought the baby up to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord, as it is written in the law of the Lord: Every firstborn male shall be consecrated to God. And they offered a sacrifice, as ordered in the law of the Lord: a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.
There lived in Jerusalem, at this time, a very upright and devout man named Simeon; the Holy Spirit was in him. He looked forward to the time when the Lord would comfort Israel; and he had been assured, by the Holy Spirit, that he would not die before seeing the Messiah of the Lord. So, he was led into the temple by the Holy Spirit at the time the parents brought the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law.
Simeon took the child in his arms, and blessed God, saying, “Now, O Lord, you can dismiss your servant in peace, for you have fulfilled your word and my eyes have seen your salvation, which you display for all the people to see. Here is the light you will reveal to the nations, and the glory of your people Israel.”
It is difficult to imagine a greater contrast between, on the one hand, Malachi’s prophecy as read in today’s first reading and, on the other hand, its actual fulfillment in today’s gospel reading. Malachi describes the future coming of the Lord as a truly terrifying event: “Who can bear the day of his coming and remain standing when he appears for he will be like fire in the foundry.” Like all the authors of the Old Testament (except Second Isaiah), Malachi associates God with power. However, when God finally does enter our world and the Jerusalem temple, it is under the form of a powerless baby! When will we stop identifying God with raw, brutal power? The only power that God is interested in is the power of love. And, as we all know from our own personal experience, that power can never use force or coercion to achieve its end—which is to win the heart of the Beloved. God’s love is perhaps best described in the figure he draws of himself in the Book of Revelation: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me (Rev 3:20). Our God is a gentle God.
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