December 29, 2011 - 5th Day of Christmas

Today's Readings

St. John gives us a simple way of determing whether we know God: Do I follow his commandments? The logical correlation to this of course is that no one who knows God would not follow his commandments. Our sins, our failings, our disobedience stem from a fundamental ignorance. We might know the command, but if we do not know the one commanding we do not know why we should obey.

Why should we obey God? First, he is intelligent, perfectly intelligent. It is not possible for him to be wrong. He is omniscient, which means that he knows everything. Second, he is omnipresent. This means that he is aware and can act in every situation at every moment at the same time. We would say that we could never have forseen a particular situation when we gave an order, but God is simultaneously giving the order and present at every situation to which the order applies. God does understand exactly what you are going through. Third, God is all-loving. He is love. He does not give commands because he wants to be in charge or he likes bothering people.

Every command of God is intended for our benefit; it is given to us out of love, as a parent commands their child to do what is good. "Don't burn your finger", is not the command of a tyrant. "Don't commit adultery", is purely good advice. If we knew the power and love of God we would realize that every command is for our good, not in a "for your own good" kind of way, but really the very thing we would do if we knew better.

Simeon was told that he would see the Messiah before he died. Some people in that situation would be afraid of death. When they saw the baby Jesus and knew he was the Messiah they would scream and cry. Simeon does not. Simeon trusts God and God's plan. He celebrates the coming of the Savior of Israel and of the whole world.  He believes in God's plan, so when he sees Jesus he holds the baby and says, "Lord, now you can let your servant go in peace." Simeon knew God, and surely he knows him today in a more perfect way.

Simeon told Mary that a sword would pierce her heart. This is not a physical sword, but the sword of sorrow that she experienced at the foot of the Cross, more painful than any metallic sword. She did not scream or cry to hear this. She was ready for the will of God. She wanted whatever God had planned for her. Mary knew God, and now she knows him better than anyone.