Aleteia

Presentation: Gratitude quenches the fire of a multitude of sins

JOYFUL MYSTERY
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In this month of the Rosary, take a moment to reflect on the Fourth Joyful Mystery.

The coming of the Messiah has not passed unobserved. It was recognized through the penetrating gaze of faith, which the elderly Simeon expresses in his moving words. ~ Pope St. John Paul II

Simeon and Anna awaited the coming of the Lord and saw him with their own eyes in the Temple. It was the privileged place of encounter with the Lord. The Temple was the dwelling place of the God of Israel; sacrifices were offered within its walls in reparation for sin and out of love for God’s law.

Now the law of God, the very Word-made-flesh enters the Temple. He who will give his life in reparation and reveal the new commandment of love is offered to the Father. Seeing the faithfulness of God, the steadfast love that endures forever (Ps. 136), Simeon can sing, “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples” (Luke 2:29-31).

Like Simeon, the Temple itself had been awaiting the true high priest. Christ enters the Temple not only as Law and Love, but as Priest. He is the one who offers the perfect sacrifice of reconciliation.

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. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem (Luke 2:36-38).

Anna’s response to the child presents the pattern for Christian disciple. Having encountered Christ, having first seen his mercy, Anna gives thanks. Gratitude for God, for the work of creation and the still greater work of our redemption quenches the fire of a multitude of sins. Gratitude is a powerful virtue, capable of changing our hearts by dispelling many vices.

After giving thanks, Anna speaks about the child. She cannot help but share the graces she had herself known and seen. Like the Virgin of the Visitation, we can picture her rushing to tell all who were looking for the savior that she had seen him. Undaunted, unhindered by age, dismissing any thoughts that her time had passed, she shared the love and mercy she had received.

This pattern — gratitude that leads to the proclamation of the Gospel — is possible for Anna only because she waited. She never left the Temple; she longed to see the redemption of her people. We ought to ask ourselves: What are we waiting for? Are our hearts like Anna’s longing for the Lord, or do we seek other faces? Do I see with the eyes of faith the deepest things, or do I look for other promises and fulfillments? May our lives be shaped like Anna’s, above all by gratitude and proclamation.


During the month of October, Aleteia is offering a short reflection on each of the 20 mysteries of the Rosary. Follow it here.