Among those in the synagogue that day was Simeon, a resident of Jerusalem who was visiting Mary’s father. Simeon entered into the conversation about the messiah by saying, “I look forward to this coming One, for he is the salvation God is preparing for Jew and Gentile alike. As the prophet Isaiah says, he will be a light that shines in the midst of all darkness.”
Mary asked, “How will we know when Messiah has come? What will be like? What will he do? Where will he come from?”
“Ah,” said Joachim, “my daughter asks questions for which we have no easy answers. Were you to walk the streets of any Jewish town, and ask these things, you would hear a variety of responses. Some say Messiah will suddenly appear in the heavens, and transform the earth in an instant. Others look for a mighty military leader, who will drive the Romans from our land. Others expect a political leader who will gradually bring in peace and prosperity. And others believe Messiah will be a Temple priest, purifying all worship.”
Simeon said, “You do a good job Joachim, of summing up the various expectations of our people. We honestly don’t know exactly what we are looking for. But we trust that God will act to save the people: although the exact way God does that may surprise us all.”
That night, Mary’s thoughts turned to what she had heard in synagogue. She thought things like these: “I wonder if the Messiah will come in my lifetime? Probably not; people have been waiting for generations, and it hasn’t happened. But wouldn’t it be something? I wonder how he will appear. I wonder what he’ll be like. I wonder what he’ll do. But this is Nazareth. He wouldn’t come here. So even if he does come in my lifetime, I’ll never see him.”
With such thoughts, she fell asleep.
Lord, Keep us open and alert for the surprising ways in which you act. Amen.