God, who is infinitely powerful, could have taken any form He wished when He came into this world—smoke, lightning, a cloud. Of all the possibilities, God chose to come like one of us—like a baby—a human born into a human family.
In most cases, first comes the family—then the children. That’s they way we are accustomed. Husband and wife—Boyfriend and girlfriend grow in love for each other and decide to give themselves to each other in marriage for the rest of their lives. Children are a blessing to the family—not essential—because a husband and wife form the nucleus—but children are desirable. In the case of the Holy Family—the child came first. Mary was found with child before marriage. Big scandal—caused a lot of tension—Joseph wanted to leave her, but did not want to have her killed—which was the penalty for pregnancy outside of marriage. After getting past the criticisms, bad looks, the finger pointing, Joseph had to take Mary, while she was very pregnant on a journey to escape persecution. We know the story, when Joseph and Mary finally got to Bethlehem, there was no room. Jesus was born in a manger, where the animals ate their food. Obviously, the Holy Family had a rough start—a preview of things to come. Mary and Joseph got several previews along the way. One of them is among the sorrows of Mary, the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple. Although a joyful occasion when an 8 day old boy was taken to be circumcised, Jesus identified with humanity in the suffering of the Old Covenant—sealed with His blood. He received His name, sacrifice was made for Him, and just when they were getting ready to return home, the parents received a surprise.
An old man and an old woman drew near. We know from our own experience how senior citizens love to hold babies. Every baby is a gift from God and a pleasure to hold. The phobias we have about strangers didn’t apply. We can imagine that there might have been some apprehension by the Blessed Mother as She handed Her Son over to a man crusted with the smell of incense—who then proceeded to tell her that she would be pierced with a sword. (Not the typical words a mother wants to hear.) Prophecy unfolded before their eyes as Simeon identified the Christ of the Lord—the Light of Israel. Since Simeon got some attention, Anna could not keep quiet. Their whole life was the Temple—sort of like the sacristan and the church lady. She told everybody! “Come and see what I found—the One for whom we have been waiting.”
Simeon and Anna make old age look good. Use to be that gray hair was respected—years of experience we called venerable. Grandfathers and Grandmothers were not forgotten in a nursing home. Two shinning stars appeared in the Temple and were not afraid to identify Jesus as their Lord and Savior. We all have to make an exit—we hope that we die when we are gifted with chronology. Consider the song of Simeon, “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace—my eyes have seen your salvation.” What a way to go!” No fear, no regrets, no sadness. Knowing who is waiting on the other side and getting a personal hug from Jesus brings much peace. Holy Mass is our preview. We have a greater privilege than the two old people at the Temple because we get to eat and drink Our Lord Jesus Christ. He enters our reality, our body, our family and we become part of Him. Just like Simeon and Anna were never the same after their encounter with Jesus, neither can we be indifferent. Allow our families to be the first recipients of a smiling face, changed attitude, hope for a better tomorrow. Love starts at home. The greatest challenge to live the Gospel is in the family.
To be holy means facing the challenges that each day brings—putting up with each other. Jesus, Mary and Joseph pray for us—help us to be like you.