Feb 1, 2014 Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
My friends, Sacred Scripture can be a very dangerous thing!
It can be so dangerous that is causes us to ask some very daring questions….
Questions as deep and profound as two simple, but powerful words….
It is a question I would invite you to ponder with me tonight….
So what that Joseph and Mary brought the child Jesus to the temple forty days after his birth, to do and perform the ritual that their faith tradition dictated to be performed.
They were every day folk just doing what their parents had taught them to do in the same way that their parents had taught them to do.
With the first born son, you must go to Temple, you must offer a sacrifice of a lamb, but if you can not afford a lamb, then two turtle doves or two pigeons….
It’s what you do if you are a righteous and faithful follower of the Jewish faith….it is the Law…it is written in the Law…
They do it, and two rather random folks who Joseph and Mary probably had no idea of, came up and pointed out some rather astonishing things about their child….
I would imagine that Mary and Joseph had to have looked at each other and thought….wow what a ride these past 10 months have been and I certainly hope its not an indication of what being a parent is all about!
But lest I wander too far from the original thought I am going to invite us back to that profoundly simple question…..
I wonder if the answer or insight at least to this question might be found in the closing lines of this Gospel pericope….
“The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom and the favor of God was upon him.”
Let me share it with you in the words of St. Anthanasius – pardon the sexist language…he said: “God became man so that man might become God”
God became human so that humans might become God…..it’s our call…it’s the core of the Good News of Jesus Christ….we are called….by our very existence…by the very fact that we are human to become God!
In theological terms it is called “Deification”….we are called, invited, loved, flooded with God’s unmerited grace and mercy….to become God.
That my friends is a big answer to a very simple but dangerous question? So What?
The reality is that Jesus had to grow in wisdom, and age and grace……he wasn’t some magical little diety trapped inside some little humanoid body….he had to learn and grow and experience hurt and pain and struggle and disappointment and rejection and betrayal and joy and peace and laughter and unity and love…all the stuff that you and I experience…remember….we just celebrated it….Emanuel….God with us!
So what?…. It means that we are Divine beings my friends, and as such we are called to treat, to hold, to walk and to treasure each other and everyone else with the same level of love, mercy, respect and compassion as we would if it were God walking in our midst….because God is!
Every face, every hand, every heart. Every smile, every tear, every laugh and ever sob….
That is not as hard to do when we think and dress and talk and walk and are of the same mindset and belief system and all those other things that define who and how we are in the world….but
It is a bit more challenging when it is our co-worker who ticks us off simply by showing up at work. Or the idiot who can’t decide to merge into traffic or get off the exit ramp. It is a bit easier when they haven’t taken the life of another, or harmed or hurt someone we love.
But it is our constant invitation…to see in the other…the face of Christ….
This week….as we experience the angst of living….when someone pushes the limits of our love…when someone tests the boundaries of our patience, or peace of mind or our serenity….when that happens, and we would prefer to destroy them with our words…lets see if we can stop….lets see if by simply trying to see some spark of the Divine in that person if we can’t change how we interact with them…
So what?….Maybe if we would see the Divine in our enemy…maybe we could be like Simeon and like Anna….maybe we could recognize and name the Divine in someone else and in doing so set them free to live into their Divinity.
It kind of sounds like another one of our Gospels that says:
I have come that they you might have life and have it most abundantly!
Pretty profound question isn’t it? Two simple words….