December 29, 2008

Recognizing the Christ

            The Gospel reading for the first Sunday after Christmas recounts another journey for the young family—this time to Jerusalem to present Jesus to the Lord, along with the sacrificial offering appropriate for the poor, two turtledoves.  While at the temple, fulfilling what the law prescribed, they met two remarkable persons who seemingly walked off the pages of the Old Testament over into Luke.  Simeon and Anna faithfully looked for “the consolation of Israel,” for the child who would bring redemption.  They believed that God’s promise of salvation through a righteous branch of Jesse was true, and they devoted themselves to being ready to receive him.

            Readers of Luke-Acts know that this writer pays close attention to the role of the Holy Spirit in the coming of the Messiah and the inbreaking of the Reign of God.  In this narrative, each is able to recognize the Christ because of the Spirit. Obviously prayer and worship had honed their responsiveness to the Spirit, and they are able to recognize the very presence of God in the squirming newborn.  Most of us overlook the humble forms in which God comes because we lack the capacity to see clearly, i.e., spiritual discernment.

            What if we spend this coming year employing the vision that the Spirit gives?  This vision allows us to perceive the varied ways that God comes to us, no matter how small and inglorious or full of grandeur. Praying “to see Thee more clearly” as a daily practice will assist in recognizing the Christ. Surely we will miss the divine presence at times, but perhaps less than in prior years. Veni Sancte Spiritus that we might see.


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