“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides for ever.”(1 John 2:16-17)
Our first reading today comes from the hand of St. John, who was nicknamed “the one who Jesus loved.” John’s describes the futility of loving the world by summing everything the world has to offer in three boxes:
a. The Lust of the Flesh.
b. The Lust of the Eyes, and
c. The Pride of Life.
According to Pope Francis, these three things correspond perfectly to the three temptations of Jesus. First, Satan told Jesus to turn stones to bread (lust of the flesh), then Satan told Jesus to bow to him so he could have all the riches and kingdoms of the world (lust of the eyes) and finally that Jesus should throw himself down from the pinnacle of the temple that people may see it and worship him (pride of life).
Even Abraham Maslow would agree that these three things correspond to the needs of every person. They are just what we want in life; bodily satisfaction, (food, comfort, pleasure), riches, (abundant wealth, security) and respect (worship from fellow humans, praises and honour).
As much as these things deliver a great deal of happiness, they remain fleeting. We are never satisfied. Our hearts are always restless because only God can bring us true satisfaction. It is pure wisdom to remind yourself constantly that you came to this world empty and you shall return empty; that you are just a sojourner on earth.
In our Gospel passage, we are told the story of Anna, the prophetess. After losing her husband, she dedicated the whole of her life to serving God never leaving the temple. Anna is a practical example of what St. John was talking about in today’s first reading; she saw the emptiness of the world and stopped loving it. She spent the whole of her life in the temple because she found inner peace being in God’s presence.
Together with Simeon, Anna knew that this child brought in by Mary and Joseph was no ordinary child. She gave thanks to God and spoke of him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. Her prophesy became a reality.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus Christ, open our hearts to that deep encounter with God that we may be changed forever. Help us to know you as you are and love you with all our strength, with all our might, with all our heart and our neighbour as ourselves. Amen.
Bible Study: 1st John 2:12-17, Psalm 96, Luke 2:36-40)