Simeon’s prophetic words are worth closer examination:
“Now, Master.. my eyes have seen your salvation… a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”
Notice, however, that after Simeon blesses the parents he continues his prophesy with these not-so-joyful words:
“Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted…”
Today, the fulfilment of Simeon’s prophesy, as well as the contradiction to which he refers, is seen in St. Paul’s words:
“we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles… (1Cor. 1:23)”
We can better understand Simeon’s words if we would only recognize that the light and glory of which he speaks do not belong to us but to God. Light is often associated with Wisdom, something the Greeks/Gentiles held near and dear to their hearts, but their wisdom was of human origin. Glory was something the Jews remembered from their recollection of David’s and Solomon’s rule—which was given by God. They longed for those glory days to return but, here again, the glory of which Simeon speaks is not theirs but God’s.
Life is full of contradictions; it is like a two-edged sword that cuts both ways. Wield it one way and we are happy but the return swing cuts us a slice of life that is not so joyful. It is the result of our fallen nature, an imperfection that blinds us to the light of God’s wisdom and leaves us powerless to grasp His glory. The meaning of all this is not so palatable.
Scripture is full of thoughts and words that contradict human wisdom. Who of us would offer our son as a sacrifice as Abraham did without questioning God’s request? Yet, the letter to the Hebrews honors Abraham’s Faith who, when put to the test, offered up Isaac (Heb. 11:17). Who of us doesn’t bristle at St. Paul’s words: Wives, be subordinate to your husbands. Husbands, love your wives, avoid any bitterness toward them. Children, obey your parents in everything (Col. 3:18-20), which echo the wisdom of the Old Testament: God sets a father in honor over his children; a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons (Sir. 3:2)? None of this conforms with human wisdom but wasn’t it “human wisdom” that crucified Christ?
God’s wisdom is light and when we follow His wisdom we live lives that give glory to Him. It’s all about God! It’s not about us! That is what we celebrate in the light of the Holy family who give glory to God.