Angels and the Old Man
This is the season when angels get into the news. The local paper runs a series on angels in our midst. One angel is a teacher who works with students for months to organize a huge food drive for Christmas. The reporter asks: why do you do it? The teacher is puzzled by the question. “It’s the students who do it. It’s the poor who struggle day after day that are amazing. What else do we live for?”
Angels quit trying to figure it out. They jump into the middle of it all.
How can we be sure? When this question grips us, we look at life from the outside. As spectators, we worry about the big mistake. Our hands stay clean and our thinking is cold with clarity. No one can accuse us of error. At this distance, life is the smudge that crosses our screen. We are in control. We come to watch
Hegel says that fear of error is really the fear of truth. We fear where the truth might lead us.
How did we first tumble in? Who pushed us out of the observation deck? Someone crosses the distance and disturbs our isolation. Clarity breaks down. Almost always it’s love. Slowly we learn to love.
The child’s story is true. In the thick of life, we become real at last.
The old commandments were direct. After examining my life, I could confess: no lies or adultery, some envy, and three missed Masses. This much seemed clear.
The new commandment breaks us wide open. We kept the law. Our record was clean. But learning to love is another matter. It’s not written down. It comes out of our bones. How can this shambles of a person be such a gift? We who are down in the mud with blood on our hands? A companion brings comfort. Sometimes the aloneness is awful. We find a load fastened to our back. We cry for help. Mostly the cry is answered. We are lifted and loved.
You call us to follow you. You are the light that flickers through the shadows. We listen and search for you.
He was known as a pious man. All his life, Simeon had been faithful. He followed the law and prayed. He grew in holiness. Years passed but he was not ready to die. Not yet. Sometimes impatient he complained: how long must I wait? All his life he had been trying to see. Trying to hear.
That morning he saw the baby and sang.
Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook