Saturday, June 18, 2005


LUKE 2:36-40

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.

It might seem like a bit too much to ask a person to be praying day and night. This is the case only if we have a very limited vision of prayer, namely that prayer is recitation of devotional formulas in front of the Blessed Sacrament. There is far more to prayer than this. Our whole life ought to be one long prayer to God.

This is what the prophetess Anna is teaching us in today's Gospel reading. Her life becomes a symbol, or, better still, a living example of what all our lives should be, namely, a living sacrifice to God. Exactly that that means for each of us is different. Each person has his or her own part to play in the great plan of salvation. Hopefully, we all do our part. The big question is: How is this possible in the midst of the busyness of our lives?

Any successful person will tell you that one of the keys to his or her success in life is the ability to prioritize well. It is important for us to realize that not every good thing that we can do, should be done. This can be hard to accept at first but it is quite logical when we think it through properly.

Jesus gave a certain priority to prayer in his life and ministry because he knew that this was the basis of his relationship with the Father. Without being in relationship with God through prayer, it is impossible to know what it is that God wants us to do. It is certainly ironical that the first thing that we stop doing in our lives when we are busy with some project or other is stop praying. This does not happen in the lives of the saints and herein lies the key to holiness and success in the spiritual life. We must learn to give absolute priority to prayer, as it is the basis of our relationship with God. Without prayer, we cannot know what is God's will for our lives.

The fact that Anna is 84 years old should also give us hope. We are never too old to have something constructive to do in the work of God's kingdom. Age brings with it a freedom and usually plenty of free time. Is there anything better that we can do than to intercede for God's will to be done? There is never an excuse for inactivity in the work of salvation. The least we can do is to pray for its success.

"Lord, may I never cease to hope in you and to trust in your promises. Inflame my zeal for your kingdom and increase my love for prayer, that I may never cease to give you praise and worship".

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