February 2 is the much-ballyhooed Groundhog Day. In Wisconsin, where I grew up, if we got to see spring six weeks from this date (which is, in fact, the first day of spring on the calendar), it was an early spring indeed, terrified rodent or not.
That groundhog afraid of his shadow might be a good mascot for us in these dreary February days, though. Far too often we act as though there’s a monster under the bed—something in the dark that’s waiting to pounce on us. We wake up from our sleepy lives, and as soon as we’re confronted with something new and startling, we run back to our caves. We think we must have been in the wrong place at the wrong time, and we scurry back to where we’re comfortable, even if it’s a dark, underground den.
Today, the liturgical calendar takes us back to the Christmas season with the feast of the Presentation of the Lord. But if we think it’s going to be time to bask once again in the soft glow of Christmas lights, then we need to take another look at the Gospel reading. While the infant Jesus is recognized as the promised messenger of salvation, the revelation also brings with it the promise of discord and contradiction. Salvation isn’t going to be a cozy retreat.
Simeon and Anna both seem to be well-known in the Temple precincts. You know people in your own parish who are always around. They attend daily Mass and all the extra events in the parish. They’ve been part of the parish for as long as most people can recall. They keep the faith and their very presence is part of handing on the faith to new generations. They’ve been around long enough to know that all life is a mix of darkness and light, but they believe the light always prevails.
The weather has been particularly challenging this winter in many parts of the country. And each of us has personal challenges as part of our everyday lives. While it’s tempting to try to hide from those challenges, we need to let the light of today’s feast remind us to face them with hope and faith.
Photo courtesy of PhotoXpress.com.