Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A controversial flag

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
December 28, 2014

Luke 2:22-40

Simeon is an endearing character. We almost always imagine him as an elderly priest in the temple, but the text says nothing about that. Simeon is a good man of the people who keeps in his heart the hope of one day seeing "the consolation" they so need. "Impelled by the Holy Spirit", he goes up to the temple at the moment when Mary, Joseph, and their boy Jesus, are coming in.

The encounter is moving. Simeon recognizes in the boy, whom that poor couple of pious Jews have brought with them, the Savior he has been waiting for for so many years. The man feels happy. In a bold and maternal gesture, he "takes the boy into his arms" with great love and caring. He blesses God and he blesses the parents. Certainly, the evangelist is presenting him as a model. This is how we are to receive the Savior.

But suddenly he addresses Mary and his face changes. His words bode nothing reassuring: "A sword will pierce your soul." The boy he is holding in his arms will be a "controversial flag" -- a source of conflict and confrontation. Jesus will make "some fall and others rise." Some will accept him and their lives will acquire new dignity -- their existence will be filled with light and hope. Others will reject him and their lives will go to waste -- the rejection of Jesus will be their ruin.

On taking a stand towards Jesus, "the attitude of many hearts will be clear." He will reveal what is deep down in people. The welcoming of this boy calls for a profound change. Jesus doesn't come to bring calm but to generate a painful and conflictive process of radical conversion.

It's always that way. Today too. A Church that takes its conversion to Jesus Christ seriously will never be a place of tranquility but of conflict. A more vital relationship with Jesus isn't possible without taking steps towards higher levels of truth. And this is always painful for everyone.

The closer we get to Jesus, the better we see our inconsistencies and deviations, what's true or false in our Christianity, the sin in our hearts and our structures, in our lives and in our theology.

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