“Anna gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem..." – Lk 2:39
The Gospel readings these past two days are about hope. Hope in a promise to be fulfilled. In today’s readings, the old Simeon “awaiting the consolation of Israel” praised God when he saw the baby Jesus being presented in the temple (Lk 2:25). Today, the eight-four year-old and long time widow gave thanks to God when she saw in the child Jesus, the fulfillment of God’s age-old promise to save her people.
The Christmas Season and end of the year celebration has been full of joy for me. However, as I catch up with family and friends, I also hear much pain, suffering, confusion and hardships. Much of these trails and tribulations I cannot really alleviate. However, as I try to be present and listen without judgment, without fixing, without dismissing, or patronizing, something mysterious begins to happen. When I try my best to care, to listen attentively, to sit with people in their misery and pain, while trusting that God is present-with-us, suffering-with-us, laboring to love us in our struggles, something surprising happens. Albeit painstakingly slow, God happens. When we become the safe place where people can present their vulnerabilities, hurts, and fears to God, hope is born. As we struggle to trust God’s promise, we become the contagious place or threshold of hope. Our gratitude can overflow in hope like Simeon and Anna.
There is much we need to be saved from, especially as we close the old and enter the New Year. To be freed from our own selfishness, debilitating fears, physical infirmities, divided relationships, addictions, and economic strife and worries … Yet, it is possible to hope in gratitude, trusting that the One who will deliver us is already here with us … often in the form of other people - bearers of hope.
How am I entering the New Year? With which attitudes? With whom can I be present in hope and gratitude, even in pain and suffering?