Never feeling entitled

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

THE gospel reading of the Mass on December 29, the 5th day of the Christmas Octave, brings to our consideration the example of Mary and Joseph who complied with the legal custom at that time of presenting the Child Jesus in the temple. (cfr. Lk 2,22-35)

Given who the child was and who they were, they should have known that they were completely exempted from complying with such law. But they did go just to the same, never feeling entitled because of the highest privilege and honor they enjoyed as being chosen as the parents of the very Son of God. What an example they give us!

In the process, that gesture of theirs also played out a providential event because a man, Simeon by name, who was promised not to see his death until he could meet the promised Redeemer, had that promise fulfilled.

In that momentous meeting, Simeon pronounced a prophecy about the child and Mary—that the child would be a sign of contradiction, and that a sword would pierce Mary’s heart so that the thoughts of many would be revealed.

All these should make us realize that we too, if we are to be consistent in our Christian life, should expect to be some sign of contradiction also, and that some sword would also pierce our own heart.

We should not be afraid to encounter these scenarios in our life, and should just be prepared. In fact, we should expect these things to happen in our life, what with all the differences and conflicts we are already having these days, not only in matters of opinion, but also in matters of belief and morals.

But we really have no reason to fear nor to worry. If our faith is strong, deep and abiding, we know that God is always around. How many times did Christ tell his apostles not to be afraid! We should therefore always assume the attitude of confidence that everything would just work out for the good. (cfr. Rom 8,28) Even our limitations, mistakes, sins, as long as referred to Christ, would somehow work out for the good!

While it’s true that in this life, we have to contend with all kinds of challenges, trials, difficulties and all other possible negative things, we can always count on the help of the Divine who will never abandon us.

Yes, we have our own share of weaknesses, and we are always hounded by temptations coming from the world around and especially from evil spirits who are more powerful than us (cfr. Eph 6,12), but let’s also remember that we can count on the powerful help of angels and saints.

Our Christian faith tells us that no matter how powerful the evil spirits are, the good ones will always prevail. It would really just depend on us as to whom we choose to side.

But again, we cannot deny that in this life, we cannot help but share with Christ in being a sign of contradiction, and with Mary in that a sword should pierce our heart also. We should learn how to suffer with Christ, with Mary and all the angels and saints. It would be suffering that would be meaningful to us, one that would do us a lot of good.

That is why we should just imitate Mary and Joseph in complying with the indications given to us by the Church, without feeling entitled.