In the Gospel today, Simeon prophesied about Jesus: This child is destined for:
- The falling and the rising of many in Israel. With this prophecy, Simeon marks Jesus as the cause of the fall and rise of many. When Simeon prophesied this, he probably was thinking of Jesus as the political Messiah who will judge peoples. Yet, taken from the spiritual perspective, Jesus will indeed judge but his judgment is not based on the Law. He will cause people to make a decision, whether they will follow him or not. Those who follow him will rise and those who reject him will fall.
- And to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed. This prophecy refers to Jesus as a sign to be opposed. Simeon already foretold that Jesus will encounter many rejections. But it is in these rejections that their thoughts are revealed.
Often times, evil seems out of control. The wicked succeed and the righteous are defeated. Or the wicked have the power and authority to continue to promote their agenda of sin. Yet, these are not moments to despair, because we know Jesus is in control, that the evil has to be revealed so it will be apparent and can be defeated completely. This is the judgment we are to expect: the justice of God. Through the injustices we see, the Second Reading reminds us Jesus shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is the devil, and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death.
Jesus suffered injustice and death to destroy the devil. Good Friday made visible the most evil thing man can do: kill God. Yet, it is by exposing this greatest evil, that Jesus was able to defeat death. Suffering and death do not have the final word. It is Jesus, risen from the dead, who has the final Word. It is through the death of Jesus, that we are set free from sin, because the worst sin of man did not hold Jesus in the grave.
If I am suffering from injustice, I come to Jesus and see this suffering as a share of his suffering. I suffer not because God wants me to suffer, but because God wants to destroy the evil that caused my suffering. God makes evident the evil he wants to destroy in me. So we receive the suffering, trusting Jesus is in control and follow him through the sufferings so we can conquer it. Just as Jesus died to destroy death, we pass through suffering to destroy its hold in us. While God may take away our suffering, most of the time, he allows it to linger so that our struggle through it strengthens us and teaches us to cling to him. While sufferings do not come from God, God uses them as what the First Reading tells us: like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. Just as fire purifies metal, sufferings purify our love and trust in God because it is only in loving God and trusting him that we an have life and conquer the evils that surround our life. The fire that purifies is Jesus himself.
Lord, in the midst of my suffering, teach me to trust you. Let me see this as your way of leading me to you, of purifying me, removing things that hinder me from loving you.