The Fifth Day within the Octave of Christmas

The Fifth Day within the Octave of Christmas
1 John 2:3-11  +  Luke 2:22-35
December 29, 2021

“Behold, this child is destined … to be a sign that will be contradicted ….”

If Saint Joseph were ever to relinquish his title as the patron saint of happy deaths, Saint Simeon might well take it up.  In the Gospel Reading’s account of the Presentation, Simeon twice speaks.  His words on the first occasion have been canonized by the Church as a hymn that’s proclaimed every night in the Divine Office.  This final hour of the day’s Office, called Compline, helps the Christian to close each day by meditating upon what the Church calls “the Last Things”.  St. Simeon helps us make this meditation fruitfully.

Simeon’s words are the words of one who knows that his earthly life is at its end.  He proclaims words that every human person might wish to utter upon his or her deathbed:  “Lord, now let your servant go in peace.”  Yet Simeon continues by speaking to the source of that peace.  As Simeon holds the Christ Child in his arms, he proclaims to the Lord:  “my own eyes have seen the salvation which you prepared in the sight of every people”.

It’s in his second discourse that Simeon elaborates upon the mission of this child, and the salvation that that mission will accomplish.  Simeon explains that the “child is destined to be a sign that will be contradicted”.  What is this sign?  Simeon may not have understood that this child would fulfill His earthly mission by dying upon a cross.  Nonetheless, the sign of the Cross is the key to understanding everything Simeon foretold at the Presentation, and indeed everything that is said and done throughout the Gospel.