The Gospel Today
The Sixth Day in the Octave of Christmas
There was 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.
When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions
of the law of the Lord,
they returned to Galilee,
to their own town of Nazareth.
The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom;
and the favor of God was upon him.
Reflection (Sem. Arnel A. Calata Jr.)
“Those who persevere in piety and in the service of God, no matter how irrelevant their life may seem, can be used by the Holy Spirit as channels of God’s self-revelation through Christ.”
Who is Prophetess Ana? We can think of our grandmothers to visualize who she is. Or most likely, we can see her in most of the “morning girls” of the parish Church. They are the ones who unceasingly pray to God not for their own petitions but for the petitions of other people. But there is one thing so significant about Prophetess Ana. She is a woman who dedicated her life to God after the early death of her husband. Because of her faithfulness to her service to God, she was also rewarded with the joy of seeing the child Jesus. She is an epitome of perseverance.
It is in waiting that the virtue of perseverance is tested. Today, we are living in a fast-paced world. Everything has to be “on time” and when things do not go our way, we tend to be impatient and become fiery because of anger. We also live in the “instant mentality” where we want everything to be acquired in an easy way. Three-in-one coffee, instant noodles, microwavable popcorn, easy-access information in the internet and even instant boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife!
We forget the value of waiting. To wait for the coffee to be pressed, the pasta to be cooked, the value of research and the beauty of courtship and most importantly, the value of relationships – everything becomes momentary and tends to be devalued.
We fail to recognize the value of things in their simplicity and ordinariness because we are always in a hurry. We have become impatient.
Believe it or not, there is great value in the simplicity and ordinariness of daily living. I, too, have my own share of learning this one. When I lived in San Vicente, Palawan for a year for my pastoral regency, I learned to value simplicity and ordinariness. It was there that I appreciated more the value of waiting. I had to plant vegetables around the parish premises and wait for them to grow and bear fruits. I also experienced fishing to have something to eat for lunch and dinner.
Surprisingly, I was able to apply it in my own vocation. It is not about the time spent in the seminary formation, but it is all about the depth of my relationship with Jesus.
Like what St. Ignatius of Loyola teaches, we can find God in all things. Perseverance plays a big role here. There are seeming moments in our life where we cannot feel God – during calamities, brokenness, being left alone, in sickness or in death of our loved ones – our vision tends to be blurred of the presence of God.
But if we continue to pray and be like the Prophetess Ana, if we persevere in prayer and in good works, God Himself will be the one to cast away the gloom in our hearts and will reveal Himself to us. We just need to be patient and to always attune our hearts to His actions in our life. God is present even in the minute details in our life.
We are still in the Christmas season and let this be a continuous reminder for us. Our hope will always burn bright in Jesus, born for us as our Savior. He calls us to persevere in good works and holiness. Let the Prophetess Ana be our inspiration in perseverance and patience for our faith to be enriched and lived out.