Mary and Joseph watch Simeon hold their not yet 2-month-old son in the temple, amazed at what was being said about him (v. 33). Life with a newborn is still a blur after forty days, and life with this newborn adds a unique dimension to parenting. These short verses give us a glimpse into how vulnerable the young couple must feel. What is it like for them to care for infant Jesus, knowing that all of history depends on his development?
Simeon declares to Mary that Jesus will be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too (vv. 34-35). This is not a normal baby blessing. Don’t all parents want everyone to think the best of their children? Parenting Jesus will be both an astonishing joy and a painful responsibility.
Just as congregations blend joyful realities and sorrowful
experiences into the life of one community, Mary is learning that this blending will happen in her one heart as well. She has much to ponder. On the days when mothering is most difficult, does she replay this scene in the temple and remember the light in Simeon’s eyes when he saw Jesus for the first time? When she witnesses the crucifixion, does she recall Simeon’s voice from years past telling her that a sword would pierce her own soul too?
Embracing the gospel takes every part of our lives, and we learn as we go. We meet unexpected challenges and accept the forgiveness God offers when we fail. Like new parents, we lean into the gift of God’s amazing grace and we lean on God’s church, knowing that we don’t fully grow into God’s calling for our lives all by ourselves.
What can we learn from Mary’s commitment to Jesus?
Loving God, help us hear your invitation to join God’s work in our broken world. Help us say yes to you without fear, knowing that you are with us in the joy and sorrow of bringing your kingdom about on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.