I sometimes think that my parents, and their parents, had it easier (despite their protests to the contrary). They often had few choices. Many times they had no choice but to accept things as they were, and make do with what they had. They struggled and worked hard to give their children a better life than they had: A life filled with choices.
I went to the grocery store with my wife, who gave me the assignment of finding and retrieving one box of a particular kind of breakfast cereal. I stood in front of some fifty feet of shelving – each foot with five rows – space devoted just to display and entice the shopper to buy breakfast cereal. It took me more than five minutes to finally find the type of cereal that I was looking for.
I must have looked like a zombie standing there. And I was one of the lucky ones who knew exactly what he was looking for. I knew the color of the box, the company that made it, and the name of the product. It still took me more than five minutes. I pity the people who walk into the store with only vague notions of what they want.
Is this what my parents had envisioned? We have options, all right – a multitude of options in nearly every facet of our lives. In fact, at times it seems we are buried under the sheer volume and paralyzed by the variety of choices that confront us at every turn.
In today’s Gospel, Simeon needs no options, no choices. He wants only one thing: To hold the baby Jesus, and to gaze into His face. In his single-mindedness is a unique combination of passion and peace. When he finally takes Jesus into his arms, he knows that his life’s mission has been fulfilled. The beautiful words that follow . . .
“Lord, now let your servant go in peace;
. . . bear repeating, because the joy and peace that comes from a single, inner-most desire being ultimately fulfilled cannot be better said than by Luke in today’s Gospel passage.
Here in the United States, our New Year is quickly approaching. Many of us are thinking about New Year’s resolutions. We seek to enhance our lives, to add to the richness of our existence here on the earth, or to do the things we do in a better way. Or, perhaps, we will resolve to take on something new in our lives. The joke, of course, is that most people make a list of resolutions and then abandon them shortly after the New Year begins.
Could it be that all of these resolutions are all different manifestations of one ultimate desire – the desire to order our lives in such a way that we can welcome Jesus into them?
So maybe we don’t need a bunch of resolutions after all. Maybe we simply need to let Jesus choose us, and to resolve to accept Him into our arms as our one true Lord and Savior.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
Not when two hundred and fifty linear feet of cereal boxes are hiding around the next corner.
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