Most of us like to keep things simple. In life we make a plan and then, step by step, we try to put it into practice. Education, work, starting a family, saving and then retiring. Sounds so easy and straightforward, doesn't it? Our plans generally do not include unforeseen contingencies. Maybe you educate yourself for a career that doesn't even exist in 10 years. Perhaps the family you form will unfortunately fall apart after a while. You may accumulate savings that will be spent when there are financial difficulties. You may not live long enough to retire.
Despite the uncertainty of our plans, we continue to make them. How many of you have a to-do list? We make a plan every day when we wake up and we hope to carry it out, item by item and hour by hour.
Like most couples, Abraham and Sarah had counted on having children. After long years of disappointment, they faced an old age without heirs. Then God made a promise to miraculously change his destiny. The child arrived, the one who would make his descendants like stars in the sky. Fatherhood in later years is not the usual fate, but the word impossible is not in God's dictionary. It was not a simple plan. But it served the divine purposes very well.
The circumstances surrounding the birth of Jesus were not simple either. Conception before marriage is not the usual plan. Accepting the paternity of a child is not the usual way either. But the most unusual thing about this situation was the conception of a virgin and the adoption of a divine Son. Mary and Joseph were stepping out of the normal scheme of things to embrace this unique family plan: this plan of the Holy Family. Simeon, a man who had spent his life waiting for the atypical activity of God, and Anna, a prophetess used to detecting divine marks every time she saw them, blessed and announced the revelation of this child. As far as they are concerned, their life project came to fruition with the arrival of Jesus. But of course, they were the kind of people who didn't care when God strayed into sight without warning, or called them with news that changed everything.
Simeon was clear that the great news contained its own share of grief: for Mary and Joseph, for the boy's bitter enemies, and also for their devoted friends. As old Abraham might remind us, we must compromise our faith to the last limits; Impossible is NOT a word that God recognizes.