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Wednesday, December 29, 2004

The Bitter and The Sweet II

A phone call last night triggered this entry and I thought I'd just share this homily I will be giving later for the evening Mass. It is not usual for me to post my homilies as I never keep them. Helps me to refresh the content and not to repeat stuff. But this is an exception for the signs of times are also getting rather exceptional...

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Is your life in tune with the Holy Spirit? In the Gospel passage of today, when Joseph and Mary presented the child Jesus in the temple, Simeon immediately recognized the Lord’s presence in his temple. Through eyes of faith he saw the infant Jesus as the fulfillment of all the messianic prophecies, hopes, and prayers of the people of Israel.


Inspired by the Holy Spirit he prophesied that Jesus was to be “a revealing light to the Gentiles”. Jesus came not only as “light, glory and salvation” for the people of
Israel, but for all nations as well. The recognition of the Spirit has been quite an issue for me these past days. With a series of tragedies and deaths I’ve encountered personally in the midst of our Christmas celebrations, they have put some sort of a damper on the festivities. Now we have to deal with the victims of the recent earthquake and tsunami tragedy where, at last count, close to 60 thousand people were killed in some nine countries across the seaside towns of Asia and Africa.


I had a call last night from a parishioner holidaying in Phuket and was caught in this catastrophe. He lost his baby daughter to this tsunami. It was rather heart wrenching to hear this as I had baptised his daughter last year in all the joy and festivity of birth and the promises of great things for the child and family.


These series of happenings have affected me as I have never experienced before with such torrent of emotions that gravitate wildly between joy and sorrow over these past weeks. A friend whom I shared this thought with, said that it was more than enough to want to make me curl up in my bed and be alone.


However, the gospel sharply returns my gaze to the issue at hand with the following scene:
Simeon blessed Mary and Joseph and he prophesied to Mary about the destiny of this child and the suffering she would undergo for his sake. There is a certain paradox for those blessed by the Lord. Mary was given the blessedness of being the mother of the Son of God. That blessedness meant that she received both a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow. Her joy, however, was not diminished by her sorrow because it was fueled by her faith, hope, and trust in God and his promises. Jesus promised his disciples that “no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:22). The Lord gives us a supernatural joy which enables us to bear any sorrow or pain and which neither life nor death can take way. That is why first reading is also urging us to live the same kind of life in Christ so that we need not be afraid of stumbling and not knowing where we are going.

So do we know the joy and life fully surrendered to God with faith and trust? May we recognise His visitation and be prepared for action today, just as Simeon was prepared and ready to respond to His visitation and action in his day.

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