Manila, Philippines

He had been waiting for the promise that one day deliverance would visit his people. A revelation gripped his heart as he sat to meditate, thinking when and how could this be. He heard through the gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the Anointed King. He held on to this conviction of faith, waiting and watching for the promise to be fulfilled. Simeon was his name, one of those “righteous and devout waiting for the consolation of Israel” and one who exuded the presence of the Holy Spirit (see Luke 2:25-32).

At last, one ordinary day, God surprised him with joy when the Spirit urged him to go and visit the temple. He followed the inner prodding and allowed himself to be guided. Following the leading of the Spirit, he saw a baby lovingly embraced and lying securely on his mother’s breast. His spirit must had leaped for joy sensing that he was face to face with the Christ. He approached Joseph and Mary and kindly asked permission to hold the baby. Slowly and gently he held the Holy Child in his wrinkled arms. Then he prophesied: “…My eyes have seen your salvation”! He saw with dim eyes a glimpse of Glory shining brightly in the baby.

Christmas is all about seeing the salvation of the Lord that has come in Jesus Christ. It is the thrill of seeing God’s Kingdom coming, the holy One veiled by humanity, and power surrounded by weakness.

Do we see what Simeon saw in the baby? Simeon saw in the baby God’s salvation which He prepared for all people, like light to those walking in darkness. He saw beyond what met his eyes. Penetrating eyes of faith revealed the great things to come, not just for Israel but for all people at all times and in every place. We are more privileged to have seen through the revelation of the Gospel story how the baby grew up, died and rose again in fulfillment of the promised salvation. The Kingdom of God has come in the baby Jesus and has continued to conquer people and the world for God.

Desolation remains in our land, [the Philippines, but also in the U.S. and everywhere] which makes us mourn and moan. Yet if we see what Simeon saw, we will never wallow in despair but in hope we can wait for deliverance by the Lord. We can share that same joy and hope in the midst of trouble and tragedy, chaos and crisis gripping our world. Having spiritual eyes like Simeon who sensed that an ordinary baby was the Son of God in flesh and blood to share our affliction and agony, we will learn to celebrate by affirming the power of life over the forces of death and decay around us. In this way, Christmas is no longer an event but an experience that changes our outlook in life. Our hearts will be filled with joy in the midst of weeping and wailing. The coming of the Christ consoles us and delivers us from sin and suffering.

So many people need the consolation of the Lord in their lives and in this land. We hear and see so much brokenness and pain. Shanties and slums–where the poorest of the poor stare from a distance with foreboding darkness–are at the edges of the landscape of towering buildings and mushroom-ing malls. They need to see what Simeon saw to inspire in them hope for deliverance. We who have seen the Christ in the baby can show them the way to experience Christmas not in the commercialism of the season but in the compassion and care we will share. By acting onwhat we behold in that Baby, we can open the eyes of those in darkness to see the salvation which is knocking at the door of their lives.

Predictions of hard times because of global recession should not terrify us. What Simeon saw is enough to give us hope for deliverance. Our path in these troubled times is already laden with grace that will enable us to endure and discover God’s salvation and surprises. We, while walking under the dark shadows cast in the sky, can rest and wait to find comfort in God who has come in Christ to save and to shower us with His blessing. Let us focus on the salvation that has come, though most people see only the ugly faces of evil.

Deliverance does not come instantly. I really don’t know how long Simeon waited for the Holy Child. Yet he never waned in his hope. We too need to learn the discipline of waiting for God’s deliverance. We are called to victory–the truth is, the Kingdom of God has invaded our world. Waiting on God must be filled with expectation but not according to our wishes and wants. Let us wait patiently and prayerfully. Who knows, one ordinary day, God may surprise us with His deliverance and invite us to a wedding in Glory, with feasting and dancing.