‘He is the Light that will shine upon the nations, and He will be the glory of your people Israel!’ Joseph and Mary stood there, marvelling at what was being said about Jesus. Luke 2:32-33
When Mary and Joseph bring the baby Jesus into the Temple, an old man, Simeon, is also there. Taking Jesus in his arms, he recognises in him the saviour of the world for whom he has longed. He praises God, saying ‘my eyes have seen your salvation’. (Gospel according to Luke. Chapter 2. Verse 30)
Simeon has lived a good life: he is ‘righteous and devout’. He is close to God; the result no doubt of constant prayer. He knows that he hasn’t got long to live, but he is still full of life and hope.
For some years now I have taken a particular interest in people in later life, a time which may begin, according to circumstance, as early as the late forties, or perhaps at 60+. That’s where I am, and it’s part of the reason for my interest. How should we live this stage of our lives? I would say: differently, reflectively and positively.
Simeon provides a wonderful model for that. He is a man of wisdom, the wisdom of years; he is interested in the present and future, not just the past, and he has prophetic powers. In earlier times society generally respected its elders, but in today’s fast changing world that is often no longer the case. This can give rise to negative feedback: those who are not respected may come to have a low opinion of themselves, which is a shame and a waste.
Simeon appears very briefly, in only one of the four gospels, but he is a great example for all of us: an encouragement and a stimulus for those in the later stages of their lives, and a reminder to those who are young of how older people may still have a contribution to make.
Main image courtesy of www.LumoProject.com – photographs of the Life of Christ shot on location in the Middle East.