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Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord.
Theodore Herzl was the leader of the Zionist movement in the 19th century. His dream was to see the creation of a nation for Jews. He did not live to see his dream come true; that is, to see the existence of the State of Israel.
In the late 19th century, he and his movement called out to all Jews around the world to leave the comforts of their adopted homelands and to settle in Palestine. He called it ‘alah, which means “to go up” or “ascend” to Jerusalem. Many Jews thought he was crazy. After all, why in the world would anyone voluntarily leave the comfort of their homes, their businesses, and their language (Hebrew was a dead language by this time) and start their lives all over again in an overheated wasteland that was Palestine? Regardless of the criticism, Herzl made his plea and many orthodox Jews answered. That was the first ‘alah. A second would follow in the early part of the 20th century, and those that would answer the call would be primarily socialists and communists.
Today in Israel you see two types of Jews: secular and orthodox. And both are at each other’s throats when it comes to setting national policy and direction. Being here in Israel, I think I would have more in common with an orthodox Jew than with a secular one. The funny thing is that I would probably be treated better by a secular Jew than by an orthodox Jew.
Beloved: The way we may be sure that we know Jesus is to keep his commandments. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not keep his commandments is a liar. (1Jn 2:3)
This morning I preached at the Dormition abbey in Jerusalem, a church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. As a priest, it was a special honor and privilege to celebrate Mass in this beautiful sanctuary and to be physically present where Mary slept. What an experience of a life time! But I realized at that moment that I was not here in Jerusalem to gather more “facts” about the life of Christ. I was not even sent here to walk in his footsteps. I am not even here to take pictures (though there are plenty of people in our group that I will get pictures from!) No, I am not an archeologist, or a tourist or a historian. I am a believer, and believers exist in order to see the Lord. This is our giant leap of faith! All our decisions must be based on faith, hope and love. We cannot settle for baby steps. Knowing the Lord is an essential first step, but it is not the final step. I must love the Lord. But to love the Lord means to serve Him. And in today’s Gospel passage Simeon reminds us that if we serve Him, we shall see Him.
Anyone can say, “I know Jesus.” In fact, for far too many, this really means “I know myself”. These two statements end up being equivalent, for without faith, hope and love, I will end up creating God in my very own image.
Faith, hope and love are three essential ingredients that help us see the Lord of our days in our days and help to make our days much more mysterious, surprising, appealing, satisfying and digestible. Simeon waited all his life for this day. Mary was obedient all the days of her life. Joseph accepted this day like the other days.
This day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad! (Ps 118:24)