STREET LIFE - Nigel Paul Villarete (The Freeman) - December 4, 2018 - 12:00am

We always associate Christmas with peace, or at least wish for it, but the times of Jesus’ birth was far from being peaceful. Centuries past, the people of God slid downhill as a nation – torn apart in two, rebelling against God, while being warned by the prophets of old who foretold of the coming of the messiah, the savior. The Assyrians and the Babylonians vanquished them and exiled many to their own empire as slaves. Other powers later subdued what remained and subjected them to further humiliation and persecution. Amidst this discord and strife, when the Romans ruled, Jesus was born. Very few knew about it.

Amidst this hopelessness, a few people kept the faith in the promises of God to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and the later prophets. One of them was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was a righteous man, eagerly waiting for the messiah to come and rescue Israel. Probably old by then, he persevered in hoping until God, by his grace, revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the messiah.

One special day, the Holy Spirit prompted Simeon to the temple. It was the eighth day after Jesus was born, and the baby was to be circumcised. Being the firstborn, he also needed to be dedicated to God with a purification offering as required by the Law of Moses, so Joseph and Mary brought him from Bethlehem to the temple in Jerusalem. Simeon was there! He took the child in his arms and praised God, and said: “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!”

Jesus’ parents were probably surprised by what the stranger said about Jesus. Then Simeon blessed them, saying: “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.” (Luke 2:34-35).

Was Simeon simply just at the right place at the right time? Was it by chance or predestined? One thing is sure – he was not distracted by the chaos and uncertainty around him but kept his hope. And he met his savior and even held him in his hands.

We’re all like Simeon. We all have only short lives to live. Some want to live to gain all the pleasures of the world.

Many search for meaning and purpose and try everything to get their place in the world. Simeon believed and met his savior. We, too, have this opportunity. We celebrate as many Christmas seasons as there are years in our lives. Each is an opportunity to understand the meaning of Jesus’ birth, his life, and ultimate death on the cross. If we look beyond the feasts, trimmings, festivities, parties and bonuses, we may meet the savior, whose birth we honor. As Simeon did.

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