Living For God

30 December - Christmastide

Sixth Day in the Octave

Jn. 2:12-17 & Luke 2:36-40

In the first reading today John praises three groups - children, fathers and young men - in their various stages of holiness. He appeals to them to forsake the sinful inclinations that the world has to offer. They are not permanent as are the offerings of the Father.

The prophetess Anna had the good fortune of being in the temple at the Presentation of the Child Jesus. Having been widowed as a young woman, she had spent the rest of her life serving God there. She worshipped Him night and day with prayer and fasting. Though she was now very old, her devotion had not faltered and she had not grown bitter with the years. She would surely have echoed the words of the psalmist, “One thing I ask of the Lord, one thing I seek: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to enjoy the sweetness of the Lord and to consult Him in His Temple.” (Ps. 27: 4)

God rewarded her, as He had Simeon, with a sight of the promised Messiah. She is full of thanksgiving at the arrival of the Child who will complete God's promise, and she speaks about Him to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. Her teaching would have been heard by all who frequented the temple. She was pre-eminently a woman of great hope and of expectation that God would fulfil all His promises. Her hope, like Simeon's, looked to the completion of what God had started.

She is a model of godliness to all believers as we advance in age. The passing years and the disappointments of life can easily make us cynical and give up hoping. Yet Anna's hope in God and His promises grew with age! Her hope and faith in God's promises fuelled her indomitable zeal, and her fervour in prayer and service of God's people.

For what do we hope? Our hopes may not be those that God has for us. The hope which God places in our heart is the desire for the kingdom of Heaven and eternal life as our happiness. How do we grow in hope? By placing our trust in the promises of Jesus Christ and relying not on our own strength but on the grace and help of the Holy Spirit. Does our hope and fervour for God grow with age? May we, like Anna, rejoice at the coming of our Saviour, and in our own way spread His good news in a world in which so many do not know or acknowledge Him.

Lord, may we never cease to hope in You and to trust in Your promises. Inflame our zeal for Your kingdom and increase our love for prayer, that we may never cease to give You praise and worship.