On the 5th day of Christmas my true love gave to me the Holy Spirit – Luke 2:22-35

The narrative of this Gospel is marked by a superscription or a title that reads in the RSV Bible as, ‘Jesus is presented in the temple.’ It encapsulates the religious ceremony of purification that took place forty days after the birth of the first born. While first born animals had to be sacrificed, first born sons had to be ‘redeemed’ by paying five shekels to the priesthood.

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The bulk of this narrative surrounds the life of one ordinary man who lived an extraordinary life. The Gospel of Luke does not call him explicitly a prophet but just a man with holy attributes. We are told his name is Simeon and we are told that he is from Jerusalem and was ‘righteous, devout and looked forward to the consolation of Israel.’ But then in rapid succession we are told that the Holy Spirit had an important role to play in his life. It was the Holy Spirit that ‘rested’ on him, the Holy Spirit that ‘revealed’ things to him and the Holy Spirit that ‘guided’ him.

The focus of the Christmas story has often been on the babe in the manger; Jesus. But that is an incomplete narrative of this faith story. Remember it was God who so loved the world that he gave his son and it was the Holy Spirit that came upon Mary and overshadowed her. It was the Holy Spirit that filled Elizabeth, revealing that the child in Mary’s womb was the saviour. It was Zechariah who was filled with the Holy Spirit when he Blessed and praised God in what has come to be known as the Benedictus and it is the Holy Spirit that plays a pivotal role in the narrative of the Gospel of the day.

One should ask, why Simeon? Why was he chosen? Our life in the spirit is a journey and not a moment. God does not just randomly pick people for a mission. Simeon, we are told, was already on a spiritual journey and he is described as righteous and devout. He was not simply one that was chosen in the Bible but rather one who chose to be righteous and devout. As righteous, he was blameless in God’s eyes and was devout in his spiritual duties.

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