We may try to read today’s gospel as a pleasant family anecdote; however, we should probably think otherwise. In the gospel reading, Jesus visits the temple as a young child. This is the only story we get about Jesus as a young child outside of the birth and infancy narratives. So, it is easy to understand the tendency to try to read this as a nice story.
Yet in the longer version of the reading Simeon says:
Behold, this child is destined
for the fall and rise of many in Israel,
and to be a sign that will be contradicted
and you yourself a sword will pierce
so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
This is not pleasant news for us at all. This child did not come to warm our hearts, but to bring down those of us with proud hearts. He came as a sign that would be contradicted.
And, if that weren’t enough, we are told in Malachi that the Lord will visit His temple as a refining fire, refining as gold and silver.
I think the challenge of the readings today is not to become too comfortable with Jesus. He is the Son of God who loves us, but He is also the Son of God come to bring down the arrogant and burn away our impurities.