Today we celebrate the feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the temple.
Simeon was awaiting the liberation of Israel. When the poor couple from Nazareth arrived with their first born son, Jesus, he recognized the child as “a light of revelation for the Gentiles and the Glory of God’s people.”
Do we recognize the coming of the Light? Do we see the miracles around us?
Father Alfred Delp, S.J., who was hanged by the Nazis on February 2, 1945, recognized the Light even in the darkness of prison. In a meditation on the shepherds who came to the crib, he wrote that the shepherds were men still “capable of registering wonder,” “still able to believe in miracles.”
But, in the darkness of prison he lamented:
The world is full of miracles but no one perceives them; our eyes have lost the power to see.
Yet, in a final message to friends he wrote:
If through one person’s life there is a little more love and kindness, a little more light and truth in the world, then that person will not have lived in vain.
Alfred Delp, like Simeon and Anna, waited for the miracle – the Light that comes into the world to console and free us.
And that Light, Jesus, has come – as the Letter to the Hebrews says (2:15) to “free all those who, because they fear death, live as slaves.,” or as the lectionary puts it to “free those who through fear of death had been subject to slavery all their life.”
Fear of death enslaves us, blinds us to the miracles around us. Perhaps time in prison or old age can open us to live as free people. As Alfred Delp wrote:
I am not yet scared and not yet beaten. The hour of human weakness will no doubt come and sometimes I am depressed when I think of all the things I hoped to do. But I am now a an internally free and far more genuine that I was before.
He was waiting for a miracle as Simeon and Anna were waiting to see the Messiah.
They had eyes open to see miracles.
One of my favorite songs of Bruce Cockburn is “Waiting for a Miracle.” In the refrain he has several beautiful images
Your rub your palm on the grimy pane
in the hope that you can see…
like the ones who have cried,
like the ones who have died,
trying to set the angel in us free.
while they’re waiting for a miracle.
May we open our eyes and wait for miracles – like Alfred Delp, Simeon, Anna, and many others who have died, “trying to set the angel in us free.”