December 29, 2017 – Friday, the 4th Day of Christmas
Saint for the day: Thomas Becket (December 21, 1118 – Decmber 29, 1170)
1 John 2:3-11 – Psalm 96 – Luke 2:22 – 35
“And Simeon said, ‘Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.’” (Luke 2:35)
In the opening chapters of St. Luke’s Gospel it is important to see Jesus – even in his infancy – being the fulfillment of Messianic Prophesy. Simeon’s prayer – the “Nun Dimittis” (quoted above) is prayed every day in the Church’s night prayer, Compline. It is one of the three great Gospel Canticles – the Benedictus at Morning Prayer and the Magnificat at Evening Prayer that are found in chapters one and two of Luke’s Gospel.
The thought that caught my attention this morning was the ending of the quoted verse above: “,,, so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”
I think this is a reminder to all of us that we can’t just go through the motions e.g. being a good Catholic; going to Mass and Holy Communion on all the prescribed days, etc. but we have to do this with a loving heart. I remember back in my teenage years when I used to clean up the church on Saturdays just before confessions started. One day, a classmate came for confession and I was surprised to see him since he often scoffed at many of the Catholic traditions. When he came out and was leaving the church he said to me, “Well, I hope that keeps my mom happy!”
What are the thoughts of your heart? In each of these three Gospel Canticles we can see that the promise of salivation is made to those of us who walk in darkness. Mary says, “My soul magnifies the Lord…” and Zachariah (in the Benedictus at Morning Prayer) says, “Blessed be the Lord who has come to His people and set them free.” And Simeon’s prayer, “Now, Lord, you may let your servant go in peace because my eyes have seen your salvation.”
These three “canticles” are prayed every day by the Church in the Liturgy of the Hours so they must be important for us to know. It’s another reminder to us that, “where your thoughts go in your idle moments … there is your treasure.” Amen!