Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘This boy is assigned to be the cause of the falling and rising of many in Israel and to be a sign that generates opposition so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your innermost being too.’
I remember the many visions and dreams as I held my firstborn son. He was just a little guy, who could barely fit in the outfit we put on him and yet we had big dreams. We could see him growing up to love books, like we did, and music. Maybe he would serve God and neighbor in amazing ways. We had dreams that he would make a difference . . . and we still do.
Other people also had dreams and “prophesies” for the child. He would be a talker, like his dad, or an introvert, like his mom. “He might want to be a pastor some day,” some people said. All of these words were welcomed, appreciated, and many we still treasure to this day seven years later.
We still dream dreams for our oldest son, daughter, and youngest son. Some of those have changed as the years pass by. Seeing our oldest growing into his own has also altered some of our “wishes” for him. He does love reading, he is an introvert, he is also extremely intelligent, has an amazing sense of humor and has become one of my favorite conversation partners.
Imagine someone prophesying that your child will create opposition and will bring about the downfall of a people? No heartwarming wishes, no expected niceness, just plain truth.
Simeon provides a prophetic word of one who brings salvation, but it turns out that salvation will not come easy. The proclamation of God’s love turns out to be dangerous work. It creates tension, conflict, and opposition. The prophet figures that his parents might as well know that their hearts will be broken. The good of the world is dependent upon the falling of their child. Loves wins, but at a cost.
Sometimes we approach Jesus like we approach our children. We imagine it all so heartwarming, perfect, full of potential. Our naivete might serve as a way to help us move forward. Imagine if we truly knew the sacrifices, difficulties, and heartbreaks of raising a child? Imagine if we knew for sure what their future held?
I admire Mary and Joseph. They continued on raising this child in the ways of God and in the ways of their family. In the back of their mind I am sure they kept pondering the words of Simeon. But they kept on, like any loving parent would, no matter what. This was their child, a child that would grow up to change the world forever.
As we continue walking this journey of Lent let us remember that often the good news of the Gospel causes division and strife. But just like raising a child, let us not fear, for the difficulties are the result of what Oscar Romero called “the violence of love.”