Sunday in Octave of Christmas 27.12.15 Sign of contradiction
Simeon predicts that the new-born Christ will be a sign of contradiction (Lk 2,34), a sign that will be ‘spoken against’.
The world had already ‘spoken against’ God insofar as it had adopted sinful ways. Our Lord would come and speak the original word of God, which had always been in place.
And they said it was He who was rebelling, not the world.
But He was merely speaking the Truth from God, of how things really stood.
He spoke the truth and He made it clearer than it had ever been.
In this He was ‘contradicting’ established liberties people were taking.
He explained the commandments, and revealed their inner meaning. In the case of each major type of sin He gave a better way of dealing with it:
Gluttony – Temperance; Lust – Chastity; Anger – Forbearance; Pride – Humility;
Avarice - Generosity; Envy – Goodwill; Sloth – Zeal.
The world goes one way; He points another way.
Usually the way of sin is easier than the way of virtue, so it has in that sense first claim on us.
We are likely to commit the sin unless we have some way of connecting with Our Lord.
If we go His way we will be happier and better people, but it takes a certain amount of courage and determination to get there.
And what is the other way, the world’s response to this Sign of Contradiction? Kill Him!
It is easier to kill the messenger than to adopt the message.
So Herod thought it would be easier to kill the Messiah rather than to let Him rule.
And the Pharisees thought it would be better for them to remove the troublesome Jesus than to put His words into effect.
And so the world has ever thought, as it has put to death countless of Our Lord’s disciples (cf St Stephen, feast yesterday)
It is quicker and easier but there is only one snag – it does not work!
The way of the Cross (contradiction) is hard, but very rewarding, both for this life and the next.
For us, it is necessary that we do not kill the Messenger, and further that we take heed of the Message.
If we are to be Christian we must be Christ-like.
This might seem impossible, but the Saviour has another resource to help us.
The perfect self-control, by which Our Lord kept His own commands, is available to us whenever we make contact with Him through prayer and sacrament.
His humanity will be working in our humanity to enable us to see things in a clearer light; and we will find that the lure of sin that used to overpower us is simply removed.
We are less likely to commit the sin because we have less desire for that way of doing things.
We break old habits and take on new ones – which are much better. Virtues replace vices as the main areas of sin are exposed for the fraudulent hold they have had on the human race.
We are surrounded by people who would kill Christ - and us - to protect their status quo: whether it be out of deliberate malice for the Church (as in sworn enemies of the Church); or just moral laziness (as in average citizens who cannot be bothered reforming themselves).
More than ever the laws and prevailing opinions are closing in on us. Those who uphold the true morality are being persecuted more and more openly.
This is the sign of contradiction in action.
The Saviour is still capable of saving, and He will not leave us orphans. May He continue to inspire, protect, and finally bring to victory those who follow His way.
We can rejoice in this Christmas octave that there is another way, and a much better one, and we are travelling it.
By the sign of His Cross we shall be saved.