36 There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.

She was of a great age, having lived with her husband for seven years after her marriage,anna 37then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 38At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

Already seventy-seven years a widow – Anna had plenty of opportunity to consider her priorities and values.

Her life had come down to this – “She never left the temple but worshipped there with fasting and prayer night and day.” Her priorities existed in the realm of the Spirit. She sought consistently to open her heart to the power of love and life. She practiced a life that attempted to diminish the distractions that so often fill our lives and lead us away chasing things that have no meaning and no real ability to satisfy the deep longings of our hearts.

I wonder what keeps me from following the example of Anna.

The child Jesus would grow up into a man who would teach that

Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26)

Clearly, Jesus did not intend to incite hatred against anyone… ever. But he did intend to indicate that there can be no compromise with our commitment to love, truth, beauty, goodness, mercy, and compassion. And, Jesus understood that, at times, even the most precious and intimate relationships can be a distraction leading us away from our primary commitment.

Anna had fewer distractions and was therefore equipped “to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.” She had the deep wisdom and insight to discern the presence and power of love when that power entered her life in the form of an infant.

What are the distractions in my life that keep me from discerning the presence and power of love at work in the world?

How am I called to demonstrate my fundamental commitment to living in the truth of Christ?

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