Rembrandt (1606-1669) Hannah and Simeon in the Temple oil on panel, 1627-1628 Hamburg, Hamburger Kunsthalle
There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. Luke 2:36-37
Good things happen even when we are old. We still welcome delightful surprises and the kind attention of others. We have the time to reflect on all we have experienced and to trace out the patterns in our lives. We know how to comfort the young, thanks to our history of overcoming challenges, disappointments, and hurts. We have the wisdom to recognize the good and the godly in others — and in ourselves.
Léonard Gaultier, 1561-1641 Follow Me and I will Make You Fishers of Men engraving, probably c. 1576/1580 Washington, National Gallery of Art
Anguish has taken wing, dispelled is darkness: for there is no gloom where but now there was distress. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.
The light of hope is always with me in the person of Jesus, who calls me by name and asks me to follow his way of forgiveness, compassion, and peace.
Lord, you are healing for those who suffer from despair, grief, and injustice. Help me to bring your light of love with me today that I may be a comforting presence to those in need.
attributed to Payag (Indian) The Magi Follow the Star, from a Mirror of Holiness (Mir’at al-quds) of Father Jerome Xavier, SJ (1549–1617) Opaque watercolor, ink, and gold on paper, between 1602 and 1604 Cleveland Museum of Art
And behold, the star that [the magi] had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. Matthew 2:9b
Would I have seen the star that would lead me to find Jesus? Or would I have been like King Herod, unable to see and follow, afraid and troubled?
Today I will look for and pay homage to the light of God’s self-revelation in nature, in the people I encounter, in prayer and meditation. I will not be afraid to welcome God’s presence.
Flight into Egypt France, 17th century polychromed oakwood collection of the Musée L, Ottignies-Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt. Matthew 2:14
Imagine how frightened Joseph and Mary were — and how courageous — to leave their homeland in the face of danger and persecution, and to make a new life in a strange country.
My ancestors came to America from Ireland, most of them so poor they traveled in steerage. One side of the family was illiterate. On the other side, my great-great grandmother died soon after arriving in New York and so did the baby twins to whom she had just given birth. Men on both sides of the family took work as laborers and mill workers. They saved what they could from their tiny salaries, bought houses, turned their yards into vegetable gardens, and made sure their children got a good education. Today I live very comfortably, thanks to the courage of my ancestors.
May I always extend a welcome to newcomers. May I be grateful for their example of courage and their reminder of my own family story. May I remember Jesus, too, was a refugee.