He took him into his arms and blessed God.

How many times have you heard the Christmas story or seen it acted out, whether by professional actors or children in makeshift robes? Every detail is so familiar that it can slide right over you.

But today’s Gospel from Luke’s infancy narrative may be less familiar. It tells of the priest Simeon coming into the Temple, taking the baby Jesus into his arms, and praising God. What would it be like to witness this incredible story? Try placing yourself into the scene today and imagine that you have an important role to play. As you do, ask the Lord to refresh you and stir your heart.

Picture yourself as the elderly Simeon. All your life you’ve been hearing and reading prophecies about God sending a messiah to rescue your people. As the years go by, you become more certain that the time of his coming is very near and that you yourself will live to see it. One morning you come into the Temple, and the Holy Spirit draws your attention to a humble couple. They are offering two turtledoves and consecrating their newborn son to the Lord. There’s nothing especially remarkable about their actions, but the Spirit helps you recognize in this tiny infant the very Messiah you have been waiting for!

Stretch out your arms and let Mary place Jesus in them. Carefully cradle his head. Gaze into his eyes. Brush your finger over his cheek. Don’t be surprised if you feel an intense love in your heart as you hold him. You would do anything to protect this precious child! Linger without worrying how much time is passing. If words arise in your heart, bend down to whisper them into Jesus’ ear. If you detect the faintest trace of a smile on his lips, don’t explain it away.

Treasure the Messiah, the hope of your people, whom you are holding in your own arms. Let him move your heart to respond and to offer your life to him!

“Jesus, I am so grateful that you set aside your heavenly power and glory to become a vulnerable child I can hold in my arms! Thank you for the unconditional love that has brought you so very close to me.”

1 John 2:3-11
Psalm 96:1-3, 5-6
Luke 2:22-35


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