Friday, January 31, 2014

Simple faith

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
February 2, 2014

Luke 2:22-40

The story of Jesus' birth is puzzling. According to Luke, Jesus was born in a village where there was no place to receive him. The shepherds had to look all over Bethlehem for him until they found him in a secluded spot, lying in a manger, with no witnesses but his parents. Apparently, Luke felt the need to construct a second story in which the child would be rescued from anonymity to be publicly presented. What more appropriate place than the Temple in Jerusalem for Jesus to be solemnly welcomed as the Messiah sent by God to His people?

But again, Luke's account would be disconcerting. When the parents approach the Temple with the child, the chief priests and other religious leaders don't come out to meet them. Within a few years, they will be the ones who will deliver him up to be crucified. Jesus is not welcome in that religion sure of itself and neglectful of the suffering of the poor.

Nor do the teachers of the Law who preach their "human traditions" in the courts of that Temple, come to receive him. Years later, they will reject Jesus for healing the sick, breaking the Sabbath law. Jesus is not welcome in religious doctrines and traditions that don't help one to live a more dignified and healthy life.

Those who welcome Jesus and recognize him as Messenger of God are two old people of simple faith and open hearts who have lived a long life waiting for God's salvation. Their names seem to suggest that they are symbolic characters. The old man is named Simeon ("The Lord has heard"), the old woman is called Anna ("Gift"). They represent so many people of simple faith who, in every people and time, place their trust in God.

The two belong to the healthiest environments of Israel. They are known as the "Group of the Poor of Yahweh." They are people who have nothing but their faith in God. They don't think about their fortunes or their well-being. They only expect of God the "consolation" their people need, the "liberation" they've been looking for for generations, the "light" that illuminates the darkness in which the peoples of the earth are living. Now they feel their hopes are fulfilled in Jesus.

This simple faith that awaits ultimate salvation from God is the faith of the majority. A little cultivated faith, that almost always takes shape in awkward and distracted prayers, that is formulated in unorthodox expressions, that awakens especially in difficult times of trouble. A faith that God has no problem understanding and accepting.

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