Homily for Dec. 30, VI day of the Octave of Christmas
As St John the Evangelist points out in the first reading today, our relationship with God takes on different aspects and emphases in different periods of our lives. The spiritual life, gifts, needs and struggles of a child are not the same as those of a young man or woman, or of a mature adult. As a consequence, we also have different sensitivities and roles to play.
When Mary and Joseph walked through the temple areas for the rite of purification and of consecrating their first-born baby to God, they must have passed hundreds of people, and most of them hurried by without even looking twice. The Gospel readings today and yesterday show how Simeon and Anna, both elderly people dedicated to praying and serving the Lord, are given the insight to recognize immediately the baby Jesus as the Messiah. Although their advanced age may have dimmed their physical eyesight, their wisdom born of experience and prayer gave them clearer spiritual vision than anyone around them. Simeon is inspired to prophesy to Mary and Joseph about what the future holds in store for Jesus and for Mary; Anna, in contrast, is divinely guided to proclaim the news of the Messiah to all those who, like Simeon and herself, patiently awaited the Savior.
Although these two wise people have different roles, they share some common characteristics: they have been faithful in prayer and service for many years, with their hopes and their hearts set on God, so when the time comes to play a bigger role, they are ready and waiting. This could be a good time for us to look at our own attitudes. What is the center of our hopes and concerns: the things of the world, which St John warns us are passing away, or the things of God? Do we have the spiritual sensitivity of Anna and Simeon, or are we like the others in the temple, too wrapped up in our practical affairs to discover God as He shows Himself in the people around us?
May God help all of us to be more and more spiritually attuned to God’s presence in our lives, so that we can understand better each day our own gifts and needs, and what our role is in helping to bring all people to know and love Jesus, our newborn Savior.