Always young in Christ

Latin Mass: Sunday within the Christmas Octave
Beloved in Christ, today during this beautiful Octave of Christmas, the Gospel brings before our eyes this scene of the Child Jesus being brought to the Temple. Simeon is there who speaks words of prophecy; and this woman Anna is there also. It says that she was a widow who prayed day and night in the Temple, she was 84 years old.
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William Barclay, commenting on this passage says, old age often weakens the body, but even worse, it can weaken the life of our hearts, it depends on how we think of God. If we think of God as distant from us, we may become resentful or bitter as we age. But if we think of God as close to us and with us – if we see that his Providence guides everything we do – then old age can make us kinder, more sympathetic, and it can make us feel young.
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Once when I was with Cardinal George he said to me, ‘Old age takes it’s toll on a person, but a Christian is forever young because we live in Christ.’
The measure of a Christian life is not in years, it’s measured in another way. The Book of wisdom says: ‘The age that is honorable comes not with the passing of time, nor can it be measured in terms of years. (Wis 4:7)
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Today it is not hard to meet a young person – even in their 20’s – who seems to be tired, bitter, even jaded – it is as if he is 95 years old and worn down. What is missing? Like Simeon today, they need to have someone put a Divine Child in their arms: ‘Here, hold him! This is Jesus!’ When Christ is with us, we feel the vigor of a purposeful life.
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Older people sometimes say, ‘I just wish the Lord would take me, I’m tired.’
The Lord rather, wishes that you recover some of that youthfulness of heart; you are on a mission for Christ whether you are 20 or 90. ‘But what can I do, here in my bed?’ Pray. Sacrifice. This world needs intercessors very much, people to pray for this world.
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St. Dorotheus lived to be very old, yet in his heart, he was full of vigor for Christ. He attended the famous Council of Nicea at age 70; attending that great Council, that should be enough to cap off a lifetime; but no, he still had much to do; he wrote several books and then at 97 years of age, persecution forced him into exile. But the spirit of Jesus continued to drive him on; he worked tirelessly to preach the gospel until he was arrested and beaten to death for his Faith – as a martyr. A martyr – at 107 years old.
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A Christian is forever young.
St. Paul worked tirelessly for the Lord, trying to influence everyone he met, to bring them to Christ. Yet he wanted to be in heaven, and rest. ‘I’m torn between two desires’ he says; ‘I long to go and be with Christ, but for your sake, it is better that I continue to live.’ (Phil 1:23)
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In today’s Epistle we read: God sent His Son….that we might receive the adoption of sons. ‘God hath sent the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying: ‘Abba, Father.
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A friend was visiting in Palestine a while back, and he said ‘You will see people walking down the street, fathers with their children, and you hear often ‘Abba,’ ‘Abba.’ It means ‘Daddy,’ or ‘Papa.’ So when we are told in the Scriptures that we should call God our ‘Abba, Father,’ it means that we are really children of God. This is the spirit that will keep us young at heart, whether we are very old, or very young; a life lived in trust of Jesus keeps us from getting jaded or discouraged. We have that virtue of hope, and it will be contagious. St. Peter says: ‘Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks the reason for the hope that you have.’ (1 Peter 3:15)
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In his book ‘Through Wind and Waves’ Father Fernandez says, our faith should be that of a son or daughter of God; thus one is always cheerful and optimistic, never falling prey to anxiety.’ (p. 78)
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But being a child of God does not mean being ‘childish.’ Immaturity is from a lack of self-discipline. We cannot find simplicity of heart if our life is a tangle of desires and emotions, if we are guided only by our whims and our ego. (p. 81) A child of God is mature and his heart is clear and uncomplicated.
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But how young of a child should we be? Someone asked St. Josemaria that. ‘Be very little, he said, not more than 2 years old, 3 at the most!’ And remember, when you really are a child, you will be almighty – love will make you almighty.[i]
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Blessed Alvaro del Portillo was the kind of saint that always had a twinkle in his eye and a smile for everyone; it was the reason for his enormous influence with many people. When he was celebrating his 80’th birthday; he said, ‘I feel very young. How old you are is not so important, what matters is the youthfulness of sons and daughters of God, it is the youthfulness of lovers, those in love with God.[ii]
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The Gospel shows us today, that as the Holy Family approached the Temple, Jesus was safely carried in the arms of Mary. If we wish to be children of God ourselves, that is where we need to be too, in the arms of our Mother, who will make us just like Jesus.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of Venerable Mother Dudzik]

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[i] The Way, #875, 863, 868

[ii] Saxum, p. 219

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