A reading from the gospel according to Luke 2:36-40
36 There was 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,
37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.
38 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.
39 When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth.
40 The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.
Reflection: Fasting and prayer
The gospel reading speaks about prophetess Anna who devoted her time to fasting and prayer. She was blessed with the privilege of witnessing how God fulfilled His promise of redeeming Israel through the birth of Jesus, the Messiah. She was very grateful to God and testified about Baby Jesus to everyone who cares to listen. Her being a widow means she has a low status in the Jewish society but it did not ever prevent her from being holy and being a witness for others.
When Anna lost her husband, she did not become bitter nor wallow in desperation. Instead, she used her remaining years in prayer and fasting. Let us draw inspiration from this woman who knew better that there is life after a great loss and that God never abandons her children. How many us learn how to give thanks even in our lowest point in life?
Fasting and prayer is all about God and not about us. Our social status does not matter at all. It is not time-limited. In fact, our whole life should be devoted to worship, prayer and regular fasting. Like Anna, gratitude and witnessing should be the hallmark of our being. Having experience the love of God through His son Jesus Christ, we have every reason to joyfully proclaim His redeeming power to others.