“Anna never left the temple, but worshipped 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.” Lk. 2:37-38
The widow Anna in her faithfulness to Temple worship and prayer reminds us of the many women who form the core of the faithful at daily worship, who probably do more than anyone to foster and pass on faith. The real mark of any virtue is perseverance in it through thick and thin, in fervor or dullness. Anna “never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer” (Luke 2:37). It’s so much easier to do things by fits and starts and to pray by whim and feeling. The wisdom and insight which Anna has—that those who have stayed with prayer over the years gain—is to a large degree the result of staying with prayer in dry periods and times of fervor, when our heart sings, and also when it is heavy as a rock.
Some insights come from constant attentiveness to God and prayer which cannot be gained from books or study. Anna’s recognition of the Child and his significance is an example of such insight. The poor, hungry, abandoned, abused, and discarded children of our world, of our big cities, and elsewhere need more people who see the Christ Child in them and feel obliged to care and help.
The world of which John speaks so negatively today is not God’s creation as such, but a world which is under the domination of selfishness and self. Those who do identify these children with the Child Jesus can pressure the powers of our world and work themselves to see that they are given respect and love. The children of the world require more than an occasional smile or gasp of admiration at how cute they are; each one of them requires someone to show God’s love to them.
Reflected by Fr. Don Talafous from Give Us This Day