Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel
by Kristin Berkey-Abbott
The readings for Sunday, January 1, 2012:
The splendor of the LORD is over earth and heaven. (Ps. 148:13)
By now, you may be feeling that familiar post-holiday let down. Many of us spend the first weeks in the new year feeling bereft: our favorite set of holidays is over, our friends and families have left us and maybe left us feeling let down, and we have to deal with all the ways our holidays weren't what we wanted. Maybe we have whiney children to entertain. Maybe we're missing a loved one who won't ever return to us. We miss the lights and the sense of anticipation, the parties and the expectations. What's left to look forward to? Our New Year's resolutions? Presidents’ Day? No wonder so many of us go into a funk.
It's important to remember this feeling when we hear about the life of Jesus in the weeks to come. From a distance of 2000 years, it's difficult to understand why so many people were resistant to Jesus' message. But many of Jesus' contemporaries had a post-Christmas feeling when they saw Jesus in action: "This guy is our Messiah??? For how many years did we wait??? And this is what we get???" Keep in mind that the Jews of Jesus' time wanted a Messiah who would defeat the Romans and return their holy places to them. What did they get? A guy who spoke of love, a guy who offered them spiritual liberation, which was not the kind of liberation for which they yearned.
But throughout Jesus' life, there were some people who recognized him. Today we hear about Simeon. In later weeks, we'll hear about the first disciples, who left their careers and family to follow Jesus. We'll also hear about people who didn't believe, people who would eventually demand the death of Jesus.
Where are you in these stories in the weeks to come? Are you Simeon, who has been faithful, for decades longer than most of us could have been? Are you Anna, the prophetess who has been watching for a very long time? Are you Mary and Joseph, parents to a very special child? Are you the disciples, willing to risk it all, if it means a closer relationship with Christ?
Or are you a Pharisee, disappointed with what God offers you? How can you move away from being wrecked by your emotions, in order to see the great gifts offered to you?
Maybe, instead of adopting the standard resolutions (losing those 10 pounds, getting a raise, exercising more often), you could snap out of your post-Christmas blues by thinking about resolutions that would enrich you spiritually. Could you read your Bible more? Could you start and end your day in prayer? Could you move towards tithing? Could this be the year you take a retreat?
God reaches out to you, going so far as to take on human form. What are you willing to do in return?