The first reading for Mass today is about Fathers and their children and women were not mentioned at all. However, the gospel is all about a woman, a prophetess named Anna. Both readings depict holiness, just in a different way. And so it is with us as well. Fathers are such role models for their children because they have already “conquered the Evil One.” Fathers have a wealth of experience in life that their children would do well to listen to. However, instruction and correction alone isn’t enough to influence children to live a life of holiness and follow in their footsteps one day. It also takes a good example and love.
Children listen to every little word we say, whether we think they are paying attention or not. They also notice every little action we do as well. We do not see ourselves in a mirror all day – but they do. They see us for who we really are. Do our words match what we actually do? We can’t teach one thing and then do something else, because it damages our credibility in the eyes of our children.
Children do not grow up wanting to be like their parent, if they feel like their father (or mother) doesn’t love them. It is very easy to correct children and discipline them, without giving them equal parts of love. Love is the only thing that really matters in life though. The entire bible is summed up in one word. “Love.” The rules do matter, but remember the verse in scripture that said that only three things remain? Faith, hope and love? But the greatest of these is love.
The last verses in the first reading today says:
“Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, sensual lust, enticement for the eyes, and a pretentious life, is not from the Father but is from the world. Yet the world and its enticement are passing away. But whoever does the will of God remains forever.”
This is a warning that is still just as relevant in today’s world as it was thousands of years ago when it was first written. This verse describes the danger that parents can fall prey to, that can distract them from their vocation to love. The pleasurable and fun things in life are temporary, transitional things. They seem so important at the time, but are not of lasting value. Faith, hope and love are the only things that endure throughout our lives and into eternity.
Catholics intellectually know that we are called to evangelization, but this takes place in our home first of all. If our Catholic faith is not reflected in how we treat our families, then our witness to Christianity is not genuine. Our children and other family members will not believe what we say we profess to believe, if we do not treat them that way at home.
The prophetess Anna in the gospel today is a model of holiness. During her life she was only married for seven years, but she was 84 years old at the time this story in the gospel occurred. She was a very devout woman who prayed constantly and never left the temple. Although this is impossible to do in modern times, she still sets the example of holiness for those who have lost a spouse due to a death or divorce, and for today’s seniors.
So many times, when people find themselves single again after being married, they like the freedom of single life. In modern times, seniors and those who have lost a spouse – their devotion to Christ and living a Christian lifestyle often deteriorates. Women who become a widow after their husband passes away, often find themselves with their husband’s money and a lot of freedom. They sometimes fall prey to spending their time gossiping, promiscuous behavior, gambling or drinking, instead of praying and being of service to others.
Seniors today do not always live a moral life. The dating scene for senior citizens have deteriorated in our modern times, at least in the US. Many men and women that would have never considered living together out of wedlock when they were young, they begin to think that since all the young people are living together, they might as well too. Seniors in the US are acquiring sexually transmitted diseases at the same rate as young adults now. What happened to their morals? What kind of example are they setting for their grandchildren?
What has happened to our world?
The scriptures today are a call to holiness, no matter what our state in life is. We are called to return to our first love – our relationship with God and with His son Jesus Christ. Anna got that. So did the fathers and sons in the first reading for Mass today. They are a good reminder of our Christian roots. Have we been slipping in our speech and our actions? If so, all is not lost. The sacrament of confession can set things right again. If we fall, just get back up, dust the dirt off and go on down the road. Jesus Christ made this possible for us. It is a great grace to be forgiven of our sins and given the opportunity to restore holiness in our own life and in turn, be a good example for our families as well.
What an awesome thing the Word of God is! The words in sacred scripture are a timeless treasure. They are just as valid for us today as in the time they were written.