Saturday, December 29, 2018


This Sunday the church celebrates the feast of the Holy Family. Today, the day before the feast, the lectionary gives us the short scene in Luke's gospel in which Jesus is presented in the temple as a six-week old baby. The scene involves the old man, Simeon, who recognizes the baby as the long-awaited messiah. Luke, however, always has a female character to match whenever a male has a particular role, and this scene is no exception. After Simeon holds the babe in his arms and prophecies, a woman appears on the scene:

There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem (Lk 2:25-37).

Notice the last verse: "[she] spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem."  I picture Anna walking around the temple area buttonholing unsuspecting visitors and joyfully proclaiming that she has just met the messiah.

I wonder what they thought when they saw her face glowing with excitement, and sensed her whole being radiating joy? They must have figured that she had had some sort of powerful experience of the Lord's presence. 

"She spoke about the child to everyone around her." Isn't this the calling of every one of us Christians? I speak about the child to my sophomores in class by the way I treat them, by my tone of voice, by my careful preparation of lessons. I speak about the child to my brother monks in the monastery by my cheerful manner, my enthusiastic participation in the singing of the psalms, by my good example. I speak about the child to visitors by my way of greeting them, and to people I meet on the street by my friendly way of carrying myself. 

What if, in every Christian family, each member "spoke of the child" to the other members of the family, instead of thinking of themselves first? If we first allow the spirit of the newborn savior to transform our hearts, our families will, I imagine, reflect the kind of peace that filled the Holy Family when the child was the center of their lives.

May we experience God's love in our lives, and then, like Anna, tell everyone around us about the child. May the Child of Bethlehem bless our families with his presence and his peace!

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