SIMEON LOOKS FORWARD


Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, ‘Now you are dismissing your servant in peace, O Master, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.’” (Lk 2: 25-32)

Three things surprise me about St. Simeon, for a man of his very-old age: First, he lives in the “now,” with his eyes wide open to “seeing” the “salvation” being revealed to him in that “now.” Second, he displays this capacity for poetic creativity, in his well-known “song,” – specifically because he is willing to be “guided by the Spirit,” rather than merely by (the wealth of his many years of) human experience. I don’t think this is easy to do in our old age, when we might tend to focus on our human delusions, resentments, regrets, and so on, accumulated in the past. And third, he is also “looking forward,” rather than backward, “to the consolation of Israel.

So our old age need not be perceived as a time to live in the past, nor as an end to creativity and growth in God, nor as a cessation of “looking forward” to His ever-new revelations. God bless the elderly among us, who allow themselves to be thus “guided by the Spirit.”

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