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Homily for December 30, 2021 – The 6th Day of Christmas

Fr. Justin Sheehan

The 6th Day of Christmas

Anna was a prophet, and more than a prophet: she is a model and matriarch of all those who lead a hidden, silent life, serving God night and day with fasting and prayer. These are the signs of someone who has conquered the Evil One and is in love with God. Anna did not love the world or the things of the world, because she never left the temple. Day by day she brought an offering and entered God’s courts, and worshiped the Lord in his temple.

Anna is an example of putting first things first. And Archbishop Chaput explains why that is important: “We’re a people of worship first, and action second. For Catholics, there’s no real Christian political action, no genuinely Christian social service, unless it flows out of the adoration of God. Romano Guardini said that adoration is humanity’s instrument of truth. It’s the safeguard of our mental health and integrity. Adoration breeds humility, and humility is the beginning of sanity. Adoration grounds our whole being in the real reality: the fact that God is God, and man is his creation”.

Anna’s example is important for our times because she shows that faith really mattered to her, enough to shape her daily life. She radiated the love of God, fasting instead of serving the sensual body, remaining a widow instead of remarrying, and possessing only those things which were necessary for worshiping in the temple. In effect, years before John the Baptist, Anna was the first person in the New Testament to live a monastic life, and in this, she still speaks as a prophet to all who follow in her footsteps.

Our culture encourages us to get wrapped up in ourselves, giving priority to our own perceived needs and desires. But the person who waits on God like Anna, patiently and unhurriedly, receives like her the simple assurance that she is infinitely loved. And with that answer comes a call to love with all your strength here and now, to praise God just at this moment. This waiting on God is the most effective and fundamental way to become genuine contemplatives, with no other desire but to keep the love of the Father alive in our hearts.

The Roman martyrology honors Anna on February 3, the day after the feast of the Presentation, which is also the World Day for Consecrated Life. Let us ask St Anna’s intercession that we too may contemplate the beauty of God in the human face of his Son, and one day share in her reward, a union with God which will be our eternal joy.