I always had hope.
When things were bad politically, what with the Roman occupation and the taxes and the way they interfered with our lives and our religion, I always had hope. There were many times when I had to bite my tongue and keep my head down, but I clung to the hope.
I knew that God would make it alright in the end, that God would send the Messiah, the anointed one who would change everything. And faithfully I did my job, supported my family, went to the Temple every day to pray. And hoped. Just kept on hoping. I got older, and the family took on the burden of work, and I kept on praying. There was this one time when I prayed to God about our lives and our despair under the Roman regime, and it was alike an angel spoke to me and said that I would live to see the Messiah, me Simeon, would see God’s chosen one. But I was getting old, and there were no signs of the Messiah. My joints ached, my sight was failing, I couldn’t hear things so well. Still I kept on praying.
And then, this one day I went to pray in the Temple. There was this young family who had come to make the offering for their first-born son, 40 days old. It made me smile, remembering my own sons and grandsons. I went to put a coin in the baby’s hand for luck, and then I knew, I knew – this was him, the Messiah. And my heart leapt with joy. God’s promise had been fulfilled. And I rejoiced. This meant that God was going to make a difference. It also meant that I could now die in peace. And I praised God with all my heart.
Lord, now let your servant go in peace.
Your word has been fulfilled.
My eyes have seen the salvation
Which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
A light to reveal you to the nations
And the glory of your people Israel.
The family didn’t know what to make of it, me, an old man, holding their baby and singing to the Lord God. This was my light, my hope in a dark place. This baby was going to change everything.
But then a shadow crossed my heart, and God showed me that it wasn’t going to turn out exactly as I imagined. There would be no triumphant army bringing God’s judgement on the Roman occupation. This Messiah would be taking a hard road, a way of suffering. Salvation would come, yes, but it would happen on a cross, a sad and dreadful end.
The poor mother, little more than a child herself really. She too would suffer greatly for her son. So I told her, gave her a hint of the future I could see for her baby. I didn’t want to distress her, but she needed to know.
Nevertheless, her child brought light into a dark place, for us and for all generations, for all people. Wherever there is darkness, this child brings light, and his journey to the cross would bring salvation – to ALL people.