February 2, 2014
PRESENTATION OF THE LORD
The Child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. – Luke 2: 40
The members of a parish “senior citizen” group staged a panel discussion on the subject of longevity. The panel included several of the group’s oldest members. One panelist, a wealthy widow, was asked, “Margaret, why do think God has permitted you to reach the ripe old age of 96?” Margaret responded, “To test the patience of my relatives!”
Whether to test the patience of relatives or no, the fact is that the numbers in the life expectancy tables are getting higher. Even so, it can be said that God is no respecter of age. His call for reform, for change, for spiritual growth is relentless. Whether we are 18 or 88, Jesus calls us to draw ever closer to God. He gives a standing invitation to share ever more deeply in God’s love life.
In today’s Gospel, the child Jesus is brought to the Temple to be consecrated to God in compliance with Jewish Law. Among those present is an old man named Simeon. He is a saintly person, who has been patiently yearning for the Messiah’s coming, waiting for the resurrection of the dry bones of the religious establishment & the entire nation. He takes Jesus in his arms & says, “Now Master, you may let your servant go in peace.”
Even if we are as saintly & as devout & as hopeful as Simeon was, we are still not done. The fulfilment of our deepest longings & yearnings is an ongoing process. Even as we hold Jesus in our hands at communion time, He invites us hold Him ever closer. Christian discipleship is not about achieving a goal, but a process of moving toward a goal. The beautiful & exciting thing about our life is the process itself – moving toward the goal, the discovery that even in tough times, the entire way to heaven is heavenly.
There is only so much we can do in one day to improve our life. To grow, we only need the make each day count: one day at a time. Someday, we will be done. The mosaic of our life will be finished, not in our time but in God’s time.
In His humanity, from childhood the adulthood, Jesus was deeply involved in the process of growth, of moving toward the goal, of drawing ever closer to the Father. Even on the cross, His cry, “Why have you forsaken me?” was followed by “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”
While gathering material for his book, Older & Wiser, author Eric Johnson mailed in-depth questionnaires to Senior Citizens ranging in age from 67 to 97. One of the questions was “How does it feel to be referred to as an “old man” or an “old woman”? One woman in her late seventies responded,
“I am old, so why should I mind being called old? But here’s the crazy part: I feel vivid! I feel like a tree at its most glorious – when the autumn leaves are changing colors, beautiful colors. I know they’ll fall off one day soon, but that makes this stage of life even more precious. I am living to the fullest. I am still growing up.”
One day at a time, we do our best to love our self as a child of God & to love others as children of God. In the process of growing up like this, we must be prepared to discover that our continued growth will depend on whether or not we have become wise enough to change our outlook & expectations from time to time. AS a missionary visiting one of my parishes put it, “If you want to make God laugh, just tell Him your future plans!” AMEN!