On this sixth day of Christmas we rejoice at the news that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved for use in the UK, with the first doses due to be given on Monday amid rising coronavirus cases.
In the carol “The 12 days of Christmas” we sing: “on the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me six Geese a-laying”. There is one theory, which cannot be proven, that the Carol was a secret catechism for Catholics in England when Catholicism was persecuted at the Reformation. One commentator says “This song gave them a chance to teach their children knowledge of the saints and doctrine in a secret code when the Protestants were cracking down on the Catholics.” In this code the six geese stands for the six days of creation.
In the gospel for this sixth day of Christmas we have the figure of Anna, who Luke calls a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel. She was widowed after only seven years of marriage and at eighty-four never left the temple , “serving God night and day with fasting and prayer. She came by just at that moment and began to praise God; and she spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.” Anna expresses the beauty of old age. The figure of Anna reminds us to value and treasure the wisdom and the experience of a life well lived. The elderly have much to teach us. Often they are the ones that value contemplation and prayer.
Gospel: Luke 2:36-40
Anna speaks of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem
There was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well on in years. Her days of girlhood over, she had been married for seven years before becoming a widow. She was now eighty-four years old and never left the Temple, serving God night and day with fasting and prayer.
When they had done everything the Law of the Lord required, they went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. Meanwhile the child grew to maturity, and he was filled with wisdom; and God’s favour was with him.