Baby Kisser

 

 

I don’t follow the presidential campaign closely enough to know if it always  happens, but I suspect that it does. Usually, it’s a regular part of the campaign and you see lots of pictures taken when it occurs. Someone will hand the candidate their baby, and the candidate will duly kiss the baby. Now, I’m not sure about exactly what this means. Is it a blessing for the baby? Will the baby’s life be forever changed because this particular person kissed it? It’s funny to me that people want to hand their babies to famous people.

In Luke 2, the situation is turned around. The time of purification had passed and Mary and Joseph brought the Child to the Temple to offer the prescribed sacrifice. They weren’t there because they heard that someone famous was there. In fact, if they had handed the Baby to the famous and the powerful in the Temple, the elite wouldn’t have kissed this baby anyway. Joseph and Mary were poor people and would hardly be noticed. How do we know they were poor? Well, the law allowed the poor to offer two birds instead of two sheep or two cows.

The elite of the Temple did not understand that the history of the Old Testament had come to completion that day. For in this baby, God had returned the Temple. If they had known this, all of them would have lined up to kiss the baby. Yet, the significance of the moment was not lost on everyone. There were two people there who kissed the baby. One was an old man and the other was an old woman. Why is it that they, among all the people who were there, were able to kiss the baby?

It says that Symeon was a just and pious man. Well, I’m sure that there were many pious people in the Temple that day. Yet, Symeon was a man who came to the Temple each day with an expectation and hope. Each day he came to see “the consolation of Israel.” He believed, in fact he had been promised, that he would not die before he had seen the Christ. A lot of people believed in a Messiah, but how many believed that they would see him before they died?

What is life without hope? For that matter, what is faith without hope? Do I come to the Temple thinking that today, yes even today, I will kiss the Baby? See, I believe in God and I believe in Christ. Yet, is there any conviction in me that before I die, my eyes will actually see God’s salvation fulfilled in my life? Another way to say this is do I really believe that holiness is possible for me, that what God started in me He will actually finish? Is today the day that this will be done? I know that he did this for the Saints, but they were saints after all. For me personally, I am very skeptical because I am no saint. After all,  the times was so different then. Everything today is weak and watered down and compromised. Holiness is a slim possibility.

Anna, daughter of Phanuel, got to kiss the baby. What made her so special? Well, she never left the Temple and she worshipped God with fasting and prayers. You know, it never occurred to me that I worship God by fasting. I thought fasting was just one of those disciplines that we do to constrain our flesh.Yet, Anna had learned to worship God with her piety and so she gained the spirit of a prophetess. When the Baby came into the Temple, she knew who this Baby was and she spoke to people many about him.

Each time I come to the Temple, I can kiss the Baby. I kiss him when I embrace my brothers and sisters. I kiss him when I kiss the hand of the priest.I kiss him in the icons. Above all, I kiss him in the holy Eucharist. Do I have the eyes to see it? Having prepared myself with prayer and fasting, do I come with hope and expectation that today, in this very hour, I will see the salvation prepared before the face of all the people. Hope and piety-with these two things, I can kiss the Baby. Then, when I leave the Temple, or when God sends his angel to take my soul from the temple of my body, I will be able to say, “Now let your servant depart in peace.”

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