Here is a link to our Gospel reading for today from Luke:
So what exactly is the big deal about this day? The day itself more than 2000 years ago was an important day for Mary and Joseph, but it was not an unusual event in the life of a Jewish family in that day and age. It was the religious custom of that time that a woman, 40 days after giving birth to a child, would go to the Temple to participate in the rite of purification. It was also the custom to present a first born male child in the Temple and to offer a sacrifice to God. Mary and Joseph are simply doing what any good Jewish couple would do. But like most occasions in Jesus’ life, there is nothing simple about the event.
The answer is a lot. Though all people are born with the same potential for love, compassion and kindness, not all children are born equal. Not all children are born into circumstances that allow this love, compassion and kindness to grow and to flourish. I’ve recently spent some time reading the Children’s Defense Fund’s 2014 Annual Report on the State of America’s Children, and the news is not good. We, as a society, are not doing a very good job in creating an environment in this country in which all children have the opportunity to live into becoming the loving, compassionate and kind people they were born to be. In fact we seem to be doing a worse and worse job of this every year.
And yet, we are the richest country in the world. We rank #1 in gross domestic product. We rank #1 in number of billionaires. We are second to worst in child poverty rates among industrialized countries, with only Romania worse than we are. Among industrialized countries we have the largest gap between rich and poor, (The Children’s Defense Fund,The State of America’s Children 2014, p. 18).
When you begin life without enough food, living in stress because your family does not have a secure place to live, and with all the other stressors that go along with being a family living in poverty, your brain does not develop properly. Hunger, malnutrition and stress have devastating consequences for children.
Every little baby is a bundle of hope and potential. We need to see every baby born with the same eyes with which Simeon and Anna viewed Jesus. I suspect that when we see every child with these eyes, the eyes of God, we will find that we have no other choice but to do something to make sure that all children begin life with the same chance, with the same opportunities to become the compassionate, loving and light-giving people that they were born to be.
The following is a link to a Frontline Documentary that follows the lives of several children living in poverty:
The following is a link to the Children’s Defense Fund’s 2014 Report on the State of America’s Children: