Tuesday, December 28, 2010

About the Child

December 30, 2010

The Sixth Day in the Octave of Christmas

Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, sensual lust, enticement for the eyes, and a pretentious life, is not from the Father but is from the world. Yet the world and its enticement are passing away. But whoever does the will of God remains forever. 1 John 2:15-17

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. Luke 2:36-38


“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has visited and brought redemption to his people. He has raised up a horn for our salvation within the house of David his servant, even as he promised through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old: salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us, to show mercy to our fathers and to be mindful of his holy covenant and of the oath he swore to Abraham our father, and to grant us that, rescued from the hand of enemies, without fear we might worship him in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.” Luke 1:68-75


Simeon and Anna were among the first to encounter the child of Mary and Joseph. They did not need to see any miracles be performed in order to believe that they were in the presence of God. They did not need the leper cleansed, the blind cured, or the lame walk.

Yet theirs was not a faith confined to the temple walls and halls. Even after that brief encounter with Jesus, she went into action – speaking about the child to all who were waiting in hope for the saving of the world as they knew it.

Sometimes I wonder why – of all the time throughout history – the Lord chose to send Jesus into ancient Palestine – poor, dusty, occupied, Palestine. Why did the Lord choose to come into the world fighting for clean water, oppressed by a foreign army, among a people skeptical of his claims?

Maybe because he knew he would find people of faith – people like Mary and Joseph, Anna and Simeon, the disciples and others who would experience true conversion and live out their faith in a way that will set an example for us in our struggles today. Imagine our world if we did not have the cornerstone of these witnesses to help us survive our challenges.

Even those who do not believe in our faith tradition flock to the sites in the world where these early chapters were written in the experience of daily, dusty joy-filled life. On a tour of Coptic Cairo sites where the Holy Family first encountered some of these people, you will encounter people of all faiths – Islam and Judaism, Hindu and Buddhist, Catholic and Protestant – touring these sites to see how this little baby encountered by Anna in the temple has changed the world. Now we must see how this little baby, encountered by us today, will change our lives.


As John’s letter reminds us, blessed are whoever does the will of God. As our new liturgical year gets into full swing following the Advent preparation and in the midst of the celebration of Christmas, we see the theme set forth outlining the struggle we will all experience between the pull of the temptations of the world and our inner self-seeking pleasure against the call from God to engage in work that seeks to help others, not ourselves.

We have just hours before we mark the changing of the calendar into a New Year. Traditionally, we make resolutions. What are you considering for your resolution in 2011? Rather than a spur of the moment decision, consider now what you will do and make a mark on every day of your calendar in January to do something to achieve it. What you can do for 30 days, you can do for 365.