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Committed Sustained Informed - Intercession
New Bethlehem Heart
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"New Bethlehem Heart"

" A Christmas Witness"

          Christmas is a most profound mystery of God's Love for us and our longing and desire for Him. On this Sunday's Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph the gospel from St. Luke (Luke 2:22-38) depicts the mystery of the "Presentation of the infant Jesus in the Temple". The prophetess, Anna, is one of "Christmas's witnesses" --one of those "burning torches" whose holiness of life prepared her to "Behold, the Bridegroom" (Mt. 25:6) and exhort others to "Come out to meet him!" (Mt. 25:6). Anna joins Simeon as a "ram's horn of the New Dawn", a true temple adorer who witnesses to the "Christmas closeness" of the God of Love. On the seventh day of Christmas my True Love gave to me: The gift of a lifestyle of intercession.

          "There was also a prophetess, Anna...She was advanced in years...a widow until she was eighty four; She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer...She gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem" (Luke 2:36,37, 38).

The entire scene of this mystery in the life of Jesus takes place in the temple. The temple is the place of God's covenanted presence, the place of true worship, prophetic utterance, mission and sacrificial offering. Those who worship "in the temple" are called to true covenant worship: Religion of the heart! In one sense Anna's life as it is depicted within this mystery of the infant Jesus-- the Lamb of sacrifice--in the temple is reflective of what St. Paul will say of Christians in the age of the Church: "your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you" (1 Cr. 6:19); "the temple of the living God" (2 Cr. 6:16); and, "For the temple of God, which you are, is holy" (1 Cr. 3:17).

           As a prophetess, Anna is associated with the word of God ("The word of God remains in you" - 1 John 2:14C). She is attentive and alert to the promptings and stirrings of the Lord: "Silence all mankind, in the presence of the LORD! For he stirs forth from his holy dwelling" (Zech. 2:17). Hers is an example of empowered, expectant faith--focused and fired-up! She is a woman of God "advanced in years" moving in all five gears"; "hard core at 84"; "a golden glower and a real flame thrower"!

          Anna is a devoted, disciplined "warrior", and St. Luke offers us a depiction of her "lifestyle" of intercession. Intercession is a lifestyle--not a program. We are told that "She never left the temple":

" One thing I ask of the LORD; this I seek: To dwell in the LORD's house all the days of my life, to gaze on the LORD's beauty, to visit his temple" (Ps. 27:4).

A lifestyle of intercession is lived "all the days of my life"--24/7: All day, every day! The words of Jesus can apply here to Anna as well: "Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" (Luke 2:49); as well, the words of Jesus from The Book of Revelation: "The victor I will make into a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will never leave it again" (Rev. 3:12). Her  lifestyle strikes against the world, the flesh and the devil. Hers is an uncompromising commitment to God that conquers worldliness.

          Anna's enlightened faith and persevering prayer are reflective of " the holy life she lives under the inspiration of the Spirit of the Lord" (Pope John Paul II, General Audience, January 8, 1997). She is totally consecrated to God: God is her life. This total dedication to God is embodied in a lifestyle of intercession. She is a faithful "living stone", a spiritual "temple" herself, offering spiritual sacrifices as her spiritual worship in a holy "priesthood" through her lifestyle of constant prayer, self-denial and self-offering.

          Anna's willful fasting separates her from worldly attachments, strikes at self-absorption and the spiritual deceits of the world, and helps her to live with a single-hearted gaze upon the Lord (to fix her mind and heart on the Lord). Her fasting also offers her strength to fight temptation; strength to deny herself so as to identify with others; strength to love and care for others; and strength to make her prayer of intercession more powerful. For, in a word, Anna's fasting opens her up to be united with the Lamb who, in taking upon himself a human nature, emptied himself for the sake of our salvation. Anna's interior attitude, embodied in a "lived intercession", is of one who believes in the truth of the Incarnation: "God is with us"!: "The LORD is in his holy temple" (Ps. 11:4).

Questions:

1)   Are there elements of Anna's lifestyle of intercession that either resonate with you or inspire you?

2)   Is fasting ever a part of my intercessory lifestyle, or am I afraid to fast? (or, find it difficult to fast?)

Scriptures:

Any scripture from the text; Rom. 6:12-14; Rom. 12:1-2; Eph. 2:21-2

"TWO-ZERO-ONE-EIGHT, TIME TO EXPIATE"

***A BLESSED NEW YEAR TO ALL OF YOU AND A HOLY SOLEMNITY OF MARY, MOTHER OF GOD***

***PLEASE CHECK OUT THE "COMMUNITY ANNOUNCEMENTS" PAGE FOR UPDATES CONCERNING THIS NEW YEAR***

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