We have no evidence that the vocation of Anna, Simeon, the Magi, or the shepherds changed in any way after their encounter with the baby Jesus. What did happen in each of their lives was the same as what happened with Luke’s account of Anna today; they told the story of their encounter. They, like Anna, shared what they experienced with anyone who would listen.
At the end of today’s account from Luke, Joseph, Mary, and Jesus “returned to Galilee,to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom;and the favor of God was upon him” (Lk 2:39-40). No ticker-tape parade, no giving the key to the city, and no gala ball awaited the Holy Family when they entered Nazareth. They went on to live very simple lives.
The pattern of how God works, how his kingdom begins is like a mustard seed, like the seed that is sown, or like yeast. It starts small, quietly, and simply. God works through the everyday events of our lives, often unseen. We so often look for the mighty, majestic, and grandiose. We often believe we need to do great things, and often do nothing. St Mother Teresa directs us to follow what she learned from the Little Flower, St Therese of Lisieux, to do little things with great love.
As the Christmas Season continues, we are experiencing that life has already or has begun to shift; families and friends have come and gone or are readying to go, vacation days are coming to an end. We can choose not to allow the celebration and remembrance of Jesus’ birth, as well as our coming together with family and friends to just fade away, to be absorbed by the busyness of life again. Instead, we can appreciate the gift we have been given in the Incarnation. We can spend time each day in stillness with Jesus. Life can be hard because it is so fragile. It can change in an instant or the blink of an eye. We would do well not to take any moment for granted.
As the Holy Family begins their journey to Nazareth, and we begin to return to our regular course of daily living, may we be a little more open this year to paying some more attention to the quiet and gentle ways of how God is working in our lives. God has yet again planted his seeds in us this Christmas Season. They have been sown that we might see his creation as a gift of wonder to protect and be good stewards of. Others have been sown that we might experience the gift of seeing each other as brothers and sisters who might be more willing to support and care for one another, to be aware and reach out to those in need, as well as to be open to expressing our need for help and allowing others to assist us.
When we do so we will start to recognize the simplicity of divinity operating within the midst of our humanity. The Holy Spirit is inviting us to be transformed in this new year, to kindle in us the fire of his love so it may spread to others. We are to watch, pray, and cooperate with his will if he is to renew the face of the earth through each of us.
Photo: Christmas Eve 2015, St Augustine Parish, Los Angeles.