I believe that I am given those things because God also gives me freedom and I am confronted with choices every day. The passage from 1 John explains the choices in a simple, direct manner: I may love the world and things that are of the world, or I may love God. I can't do both. I must choose.
Do I work compulsively, or do I allow time for my wife, children, friends and my God?
Do I feed into gamey office politics or get involved in one-up contests with neighbors, or do I simply stay focused on today's responsibilities?
Do I hoard my money or help others?
Do I stand up for what is right, even if by doing so I might be threatened, or do I fade into the shadows when I witness injustice?
Answering questions like these is one way to discern the love of God in and for me. What attracts my desire? Pretentious living? Or am I drawn to genuine kindness, reverence for life, respect for all of my fellow creatures?
The things of the world are spelled out in this passage: sensuous lust, pleasure for the eyes, pretentiousness. The things of God are not made so explicit. Is that because we must search our hearts, listening for God deep inside?
Something is stirring deep in the heart of Anna, the prophetess in today's Gospel. She is 84 years old, and the baby Jesus is the thrill of her life.
Babies bring joy to all of us. This is the season when we anticipate the joy surrounding the baby Jesus. You can almost see the crinkles in the skin on Anna's face as she breaks into a huge smile in His presence. She talks to everyone in the temple about her joy and hope. God plants this thing in us that makes us joyful about and protective of babies, of children.
How we pray that the favor of God will be on them!
What must that have meant with the child Jesus? A special charisma? How did His growth in wisdom manifest?
I like to believe that this passage gives us a glimpse of the normal everyday life of the holy family. Here is what has happened preceding the return to Nazareth: An angel has appeared to Mary. There has been a hard journey to Bethlehem and childbirth in a lowly place. Then a trip to Jerusalem, where people like Anna make a big fuss over the child.
Finally, home to Nazareth. I envision an exhausted family coming home after a long and difficult trip, craving the mundane routines of housekeeping and the quiet security of family time.
A family coming home. Is it God stirring in my heart that so
draws me to this image?
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