|St. John the Baptist church, Quincy, Illinois|
Commenting on the Gospel proclaimed today for the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, Saint Bonaventure focuses in on the action of Simeon. As he does so, he urges us, saying:
Behold the devotion of this old man to comprehend and hold onto this little child. And by his devotion he exposes himself totally to Christ, so that he could say what The Song of Songs 1:12 has: "My lover is a sachet of myrrh that will lie between my breasts." For he wanted to fulfill what The Song of Songs 8:6 says: "Place me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm." Indeed, upon both arms. Yes, both to show how strongly he is to be comprehended and held. The Song of Songs 3:4 reads: "I have found him whom my soul loves. I took hold of him and would not let him go" (Commentary on the Gospel of Luke, 2.65).
How often have we been in the company of a relative or friend who was reluctant to let go of the child of another relative or friend? If we so wish to hold onto an 'ordinary' child, how much more so should we desire to hold onto the Child of Bethlehem, to take hold of the Lord Jesus himself and never let him go?
But if we look at those words from The Song of Songs from, as it were, the other end, we can rightly hear the Lord Jesus say to each of us, "I have found him whom my soul loves. I took hold of him and would not let him go." When the Lord reaches out to take us in his arms, do we resist his embrace? Do we struggle to break free, or do we allow ourselves to be held to his breast?
It was precisely because Simeon so embraced the Lord - and allowed himself to be embraced by him - that he was able to say with all sincerity, "Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace" (Luke 2:29). If we follow Simeon's devotion and so take hold of him whom our souls love, we, too, will be able to say to the Lord, "Let your servant go in peace," for we will be held safely in his embrace.