Dec. 30, 2015 Wednesday: 6th Day in the Octave of Christmas
There are some people who when growing old become apprehensive, anxious, afraid, insecure and even bitter. But there are also others who when growing old, grow old gracefully and productively. Like for example: Miguel Cervantes wrote Don Quixote when he was almost seventy years old. Noah Webster wrote his monumental dictionary at seventy. Socrates gave his wise philosophies at seventy. Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross at fifty-nine. Benjamin Franklin helped to frame the U.S. Constitution at eighty-one. Benjamin Desraeli became prime minister of England for the second time at seventy. Thomas Edison worked busily in his lab at eighty three. Guiseppe Verdi composed Te Deum at eighty-five. Michelangelo was in his eighties when he painted some of his masterpieces. Galileo made his greatest discovery when he was seventy-three. And in the gospel reading today we have Anna who was very active in the temple as a prophetess even at the age of eighty-four.
We know nothing about Anna except in today’s gospel passage. That Anna is a widow. Even if she is a widow but she has not grown bitter, resentful and insecure. She is old but she has never ceased to hope. Her old age does not kill her hope in God.
Unlike what John Powers in his book, The Unoriginal Sinner and the Ice Cream God, had told us that a boy named Conroy writes God a letter. He complains about the fact that people have to grow old.
Speaking for God, an adult friend writes a letter back to Conroy, saying: “I often find your way of thinking quite puzzling. For me, the most beautiful moment on earth is in old people. They are my human sunsets.”
There are two things Anna does in her life as a widow and in her old age:
First, she never stops worshipping God. She spends her life in God’s temple together with the people of God. Today, God gives us His Church to be our mother in the faith. We rob ourselves of a priceless treasure when we neglect to be one of His worshipping people.
And lastly, she never ceases to pray. Public worship, like attending Masses in the Church, is great; but private worship, like prayer, is also great. As someone has truly said: “They pray best together who pray first alone.” The years have left Anna without bitterness, apprehension, anxiety, fear, and insecurity because day by day she keeps her contact with God. God is the source of strength and in whose strength our weakness is made perfect.
Anna never stops worshipping. She never stops praying. She never stops trusting and hoping. In the end, God rewards Anna by letting her see the long-awaited Messiah, Jesus Christ.
And so how are we growing old, productive or bitter?
-Fr. Joseph Benitez