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senate. Whilst he oppresses the rich and influential families of the nation and deprives the Sanhedrin of its liberty and authority, in order to put his creatures in the office of the high priest: the Pharisees, self-constituted interpreters of the Law, oppress the common people and subject it to a multitude of superstitious practices that lead to indifference and irreligion.
In the midst of this political and religious corruption, Anna speaks of the Messiah to all who were waiting for the redemption of Israel. To indicate the importance of her mission, the Gospel speaks of her origin and her past life. She was the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser. She had been married quite young, as is the custom in the Orient, but death had solved the union and shattered her earthly hopes. Then God had called her to His service in the Temple. There she had grown old in labors and watchings. It had not been without struggles and interior sufferings that she had broken with all that charms and captivates us here below, in order to lead a life of solitude, of
penance; but as a just reward for her sacrifices, her soul is ennobled and elevated.
prayer, and of
Anna lived in that part of the Temple which was exclusively reserved for women. Through one gate they could enter the enclosure of the Temple, through another, the streets of Jerusalem. There, at the expense of the Temple, were also raised the children that were to be consecrated to the Lord. The young girls were confided to the care of pious and considerate matrons, who instructed them in the Law and the Sacred Writings, taught them the psalms and prayers, and gave them lessons in manual labor for the service of the Temple.
Jewish history tells us that, at all times, women were employed for the service of the altar, and lived in the neighborhood of the Lord's House.
Thus, according to tradition, Anna, the prophetess, together with Noemi, had the charge of raising and instructing that child of divine predilection who called herself Mary of Nazareth. At the age of three years, Mary had been brought to the Temple by Anna, her mother, and Joachim, her father, and consecrated to the Lord. Did the prophetess ever penetrate into the destiny of that child and enjoy the previous knowledge that she was to be the mother of the Saviour? We do not know; but we do know that, by the study of the Law and the sanctity of her life, she deserved to behold the infant Saviour and glorify Him.
The apostolate is fruitful only when it deserves it. We cannot benefit the souls of others when we are without recollection and purity, when we do not try to instruct ourselves properly in the teachings of our holy religion, when we do not take proper care of our own house, another temple, in which God dwells within. It is not enough to speak of religion, to deplore the evils of our times, to arm ourselves with good principles: the Lord wants apostles that truly know Him and, by their lives, truly resemble Him. Worldlings Heabandons to their worldly glory, to their false successes. To announce Himself He chose, not princes, not the priests of Israel, not the rich, but an humble woman, living in solitude and occupied with God.
The Gospel, likewise, says that only those who waited for the redemption of Israel were favored with the good news of His coming. The teaching of truth, to be efficacious, must be done opportunely. Anna knew the time to be silent, and the time to speak. Multiplying words, without discretion, at wrong moments, may lead away from faith and Christian practice those whom we wish to bring there.
The Gospel is silent about Anna's last days on earth. There is no need of words, either. She recognized the infant Saviour, she announced Him, she loved Him – to possess Him eternally in Heaven.
THE SAMARITAN WOMAN.
WOMAN POINTS OUT THE MESSIAH AND
SHOWS THE WAY TO HIM.
HIRTY years of hidden life, years of labor and privation, Jesus had passed in the bosom of the Holy
Family without attracting any particular notice.
The Precursor was now proclaiming aloud the coming of the Messiah. Immense crowds flocked around him, attracted by the novelty of his preaching and the strangeness of his life. It was the hour of general expectation that every breath of air increased. Jesus Himself mingled with the crowds and went to be baptized by John and