The Sixth Day of the Octave of Christmas
(I John 2:12-17; Luke 2:36-40)
Two notes about the gospel passage today may serve as guidelines for the coming year. First, the evangelist Luke is typically gender-inclusive here. He has just finished telling how the holy man Simeon recognized Jesus as the light to the nations. Now he similarly relates how the prophetess Ana sees Jesus as the redeemer of Israel. Later in his gospel when Luke tells of God’s concern for the sinner, he compares God first to a shepherd searching for a lost sheep and then to a woman sweeping her house clean to find a missing coin. Likewise, when Luke describes Jesus describing how the Kingdom of God bountifully grows, he includes the story of a woman mixing yeast with flower in making bread along with that of a man planting a mustard seed in his field. We should similarly strive for inclusivity in our speech. God has made women and men as complements. The Church could not exist without the good-will efforts of both genders. It is a sin to deliberately disregard either.
Second, the prophetess Ana is said to live praying and fasting. She is obviously meant to be considered an ascetic, but this does not mean that we cannot imitate her. Indeed, regular fasting as well as praying will make us, like Ana, keen to the presence of God in our midst.