Simeon’s Passion prophecy becomes quite specific…the contradiction against the Son is also directed against the mother and it cuts her to the heart. For her, the Cross of radical contradiction becomes the sword that pierces her soul. From Mary we can learn that what true com-passion is: quite unsentimentally assuming the sufferings of others as one’s own. — Pope Benedict XVI
In 2015, my wife Karen and I went to Chile to visit our daughter E1 and her partner, P. They live in a little town about an hour’s drive out of Santiago, the capital of Chile.
After we booked our flights, E1 announced that she was pregnant. She’d be about halfway through her pregnancy by the time we arrived. So that added an extra dimension to our journey.
A few days after we arrived, we went into Santiago to meet P’s family. P stopped the car on a side street, a mixture of houses and small office buildings. E1 told us that they had some business there and invited us to come up to the first-floor office they were going to.
It didn’t take us long to realise that we were in a radiologist’s place, and that E1 was having an ultrasound. Fair enough, I thought—she’s killing two birds with one stone, fitting the family get-together and the ultrasound into the same visit. We’d wait.
When it came time for E1 to go in, she waved us to come in too. It was a total surprise. When we saw this little human inside our daughter, K and I just fell in love with her. Oh yes, and we learnt that day that E1 was having a girl. Her name would be E2.
That was over two years ago now, and now E2 is our Chilean–Australian granddaughter. She doesn’t know it yet, but she is growing up bilingual. She is learning Spanish and English words for things. In time, her brain will sort it all out and she’ll be fluent in both languages.
Good morning all, and welcome to the Temple. You look like rich travellers with those…er, interesting erm, clothes…and those, what do you call them—iPads?
Forgive me for being rude. My name is Phinehas, and I’ll be your guide today. I’m a Sadducee here in the Temple of Jerusalem. You’ve heard of us Sadducees? Oh…you haven’t? I’m amazed! Your minister can’t have been doing a very good job then, that’s all I can say. You can tell him I said that!
Well, I have a lot of important jobs here at the Temple, I won’t bore you with what they are, but I always have time for rich travellers. The Temple’s coffers are very low in these unfortunate days, so low we’re thinking of introducing a seven shekel copayment for people who need prayer. So if you wanted to give a copayment, or even a large donation, I’d make sure it went to a good home…
No, you don’t like that idea? Ok…so what can I show you? The Temple is such a grand place, it covers over fourteen hectares! You can’t see it all in one day, you’d need a whole week to do it justice.
Now, if you’ll just follow me… Sorry, what’s that? You want to know who those scruffy two old people over by the gate are? What a strange question. But it’s interesting you should ask…
Waiting, hoping, looking
It must have been an ordinary enough scene. A young couple come to the temple in Jerusalem, forty days after the birth of her firstborn son. They were obviously a devout couple, a couple who obeyed the Law of Moses, which said:
Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord.
They’d been taught that since the time of the first Passover, the firstborn son had belonged to the Lord; they were required to offer sacrifice to redeem their son, to buy him back, from the Lord.
But this particular man and woman were also quite poor. If they could afford it, they would bring a lamb and a pigeon or turtledove to the temple. But those who couldn’t afford a lamb were allowed to bring two birds. Mary and Joseph brought two birds.
An observer would have only seen an observant couple, a poor couple, doing the right thing.