One of the most meaningful Pro-Life demonstrations I ever saw was a graduating High School class deciding to put out the number of empty seats with them in the graduates’ area of all the children who would have been graduating High School with them had they not been aborted. It was a powerful, silent, but effective witness of what had been sacrificed by the rampant abortions in this society. We truly are aborting our future!
To be sure, I am grateful to God that the faithful Pro-life message has continued to this day. Even though no matter how big the annual Pro-Life march is in Washington, the news media will studiously ignore reporting on it as a matter of course. And I am grateful that this consistent Pro-Life witness has seen abortions slow and even lessen as the years from that fateful Supreme Court decision drifts into the further past. But still, only eternity will reveal what we’ve lost, who we’ve lost, to the “culture of death” so very popular in modern society. And that goes for not only the abortion industry, but to all the lives lost due to humanity’s love affair with violence and power. Who would have that child grown up to be, to accomplish, to discover, to cure? Only God knows, but our short sighted selfishness as a society does have a price to pay. Lord, have mercy.
You see, one life can make a difference. Think about the great progress we humans have made in the centuries. Hasn’t it been the spark in one heart, one mind, that lit the flame of freedom and growth and discover. A person willing to pay whatever price was necessary to achieve, to discover, to reach a cure, or to set the captives free. Names flow through my head of heroes through the centuries whose lives made the difference in the lives of so many others. One life can change the world. One life has.
Look at our Gospel Lesson this morning in Luke 2:25-38: At that time, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Symeon and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him; and Symeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.” And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher; she was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years from her virginity, and as a widow till she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she gave thanks to God, and spoke of him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
St. Symeon takes the Child Jesus in his arms and, in a powerful moment of revelation, he sees what his aged eyes had longed to see his whole life, the Messiah. The Holy Spirit had told Symeon that he wouldn’t die until he had seen this wondrous moment, and here it is. Here in his arms is the One promised from the very beginning; from the very moment in the Garden when our first parents had heard that a “serpent” would brush His heel, but He would crush the serpent’s head. From the dim recesses of ancient history till now, the hearts of every Jewish mother wondered if she’d be the mother of the Messiah, and now the wait was over. Here He is!
Symeon tells His mother some unsettling truths: This Child will set in motion the rise AND fall of many. He will be a “sign” spoken against. And the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. This Child is going to do what He had done in the Garden with our first Parents; He is going to reveal the truth about all of us, both the good and the bad and everything in between. Those whose hearts love darkness will hate Him and those whose hearts long to love and be free will rejoice because of Him! But make no mistake, He will banish all hiding places for everyone!
Today, as we celebrate St. Symeon taking the God-man in his arms, where are your hiding places in your heart? What secret places do you think you are maintaining to stay hidden, not from God (that’s silly and impossible), but from yourself? Today our Lord Jesus invites you to come out of hiding and know that He will not reject you or forsake you. He will not condemn you, if only you will stop condemning yourself to the fantasy of a hidden life. All the medicine for your soul is here in His Church to heal you and draw out every secret place and bring it into the healing Light of His Presence, and all you have to do is say “Here I am, Lord. I want to be Orthodox on Purpose!”
P.S. This Sunday we will have a brand new Faith Encouraged LIVE program. With Great Lent just around the corner, we will talk about the Orthodox understanding of Repentance. Here’s a hint: It isn’t about being sorry you broke the rules! That’s Sunday night at 8 PM Eastern on AncientFaith.com