Joy - and how it’s bittersweet

It’s Candlemas and Jesus is a 6 week old baby, brought to the Temple to be presented before God.  It’s a time of great joy – you can imagine how pleased Mary and Joseph are to bring their child to the Temple and thank God for him.  And others rejoice too!  Simeon and Anna recognize that this child is special, destined for great things, and they are delighted that they have been afforded a glimpse of him.

But there is something bittersweet about this joy, as perhaps there is in relation to all joy.  Simeon knows that the child is destined to challenge as well as to heal, to cause dissension as well as to reconcile.  Simeon knows the child will bring his mother Mary suffering, too.  

Can this challenge and suffering be avoided?  No... but the good news is God is always with Mary and with us, and we never suffer alone.  He never allows us to experience more than we can bear and he never abandons us.  We are always held in his loving arms and loved more than we can possibly know.

And so Mary, in the time after Jesus’ trial and torture and crucifixion, and after his amazing resurrection, is there in Jerusalem praying devoutly, along with other women and Jesus’ brothers. Her faith is strong and God has not let her down.  He continues to hold her in his loving arms.

So let’s join Mary and thank God for his goodness to each one of us.  And, to quote Mary’s words in the Magnificat, let’s always proclaim the greatness of the Lord, and rejoice in God our Saviour.