Thursday December 30, 2010
The Gospel today is a continuation of yesterday’s reading about the Presentation in the Temple. It deals with the second person who was present on that day. Her name was Anna and she is described as a prophetess, in other words a person who was a spokesperson for God. We do not often see women prophets in the Scriptures; most of them are men. Anna was elderly and had only lived for seven years with her husband. She was now 84 and had been a widow all these years. Again, widows were at the lowest rung of the social ladder. They could not produce children nor had they much chance of getting re-married. In many ways they were social nobodies.
However, Anna was a deeply spiritual person who spent her waking hours in the Temple, praying and fasting. She not only fasted and prayed, but she served God when she fasted and prayed. No doubt she was occupied also in many good works, but she lived in a constant habit of prayer. We are encouraged to pray without ceasing and to continue in prayer—and this is what Anna did. She also came on the scene just as Jesus and his parents were in the Temple. She must have realised the true identity of the Child and gave thanks to God. She began to speak about the Child to everyone, especially those awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.
How often have we been longing to see God’s power become something tangible in our day and age? Wouldn’t it be great to have all our troubles and worries disappear? When a relative or loved one recovers from a serious illness, it would certainly have us dancing and falling to our knees in deep admiration and appreciation.
God always remains with us. It is our response and our commitment that needs strengthening. Anna was in her golden years and she kept the faith. Can we be as purposeful? Of course, doubt and regret will challenge us, but through prayer, we can persevere.
Even when things seem bleak, the light of His Presence will arrive. Even when everything seems lost, He saves us just in time. Even if we lose faith and hope, He is there to strengthen us. That is how wonderful God’s love is for us. Let us keep praying for the grace of faithfulness. As we face another year ahead of us, may we continue to hope and trust in God’s plan of salvation. And when we approach the end of our earthly existence, may we feel as blessed as Anna to have witnessed God’s fulfillment of his plans.
The last verse of the Gospel today said: “The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him.”What can we learn from this passage about our own lives? We can reflect that Mary and Joseph were faithful to the Jewish traditions as they understood them. We can reflect that Mary and Joseph were chosen from the working class of people who were not distracted by riches and power. We can reflect that Jesus grew as a normal human being as we do. Jesus grew in the wisdom and knowledge of the Father and he fulfilled all the prophecies about him. He was obedient unto death for the love of us.
We also grow in “wisdom” about who we are and what we are supposed to do in life. We are to grow in wisdom and knowledge and actualize the potential God has given each one of us. Today, we can ask ourselves these questions: Why was I born? What am I supposed to do with my life? How should I serve the world?
Loving God, help us reflect on our own lives and understand the gifts you have given each one of us. Help us actualize those gifts – no matter what our age – in the service of the poor, the powerless, the sick, and those who do not have education. Help us, with your Son; give ourselves in service to the world….All for your greater honor and glory. Amen