Seeing the light

“my eyes have seen your salvation”
Luke 2: 30

 On this feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple forty days after His birth, one of the central figures is the aged Simeon who had been assured by the Holy Spirit that he would see the Messiah (Luke 2: 25-26).

Why did he see in Jesus “the light revealed to all the nations”?

If Jesus is the Messiah, why was this not apparent to all who encountered Him?

Perhaps it’s because we do not wait in hope, as Simeon did. We think we have everything figured out and can see what is real.

Perhaps it’s because our eyes are not open for the miracles around us.

Today is also the anniversary of the execution of the Jesuit priest Alfred Delp in 1945. From prison he wrote an incredible set of meditations – on Advent, Christmas, the Lord’s Prayer, and the hymn “Come, Holy Spirit.”

From the darkness of prison his writings are full of light and truth.

As he wrote, “The world is full of miracle buts no one perceives them; our eyes have lost the power to see.”

He could see the possibilities of a new world even as he recognized the horror and evil of Nazism. It was not easy. After he had been condemned to death he wrote, “I can’t yet see the way clear before me; I must go on praying for light and guidance.”

But he had an open heart, as did Simeon, and so could see God’s presence and, in his writings, help us also see God.

In his reflection on the phrase “Send Thy Radiant Light” from the hymn “Veni, Sancte Spiritus,” he wrote:

“Light is symbolic of one of the great longings of human life…. God created human beings as light-endowed, radiant beings, and as such sent us forth into the world; but we have blinded ourselves to the truth…. [This prayer] is a despairing cry for divine help to disperse our self-imposed, sinful darkness, wiping the dreams and the fear from our eyes so that they may see again.

“But there is another imperative need for light in our lives; God’s radiance dazzles us. We get presentiments and glimpses but they are transitory and usually lead nowhere. Those who are dedicate and prepared pray for divine light which will heighten their perception and raise them to the realization of that fullness they had hitherto only dimly guessed at. Once a person has arrived at this stage he know what the strength of God is even in the darkest and most hopeless situations of his life.”

Let us pray for eyes that see the Light of the Nations, in the midst of darkness. Let us not contribute to that darkness by despair or incessant grumbling. “Let us wait in joyful for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

And, in the meantime?

As Father Alfred Delp also wrote:

If through one man’s life there is a little more love and kindness, a little more light and truth in the world, he will not have died in vain.

——-
Quotations from Alfred Delp, SJ: Prison Writings. Orbis Books, 2004.

 

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