During this week of Christmas, we hear of two elderly prophets, Simeon and Anna, waiting patiently in the Temple, praying for the coming Messiah. As Mary and Joseph bring the infant Jesus to the Temple for His Presentation, these two wisdom figures erupt in prayer and praise. We only know of these two prophets through a few verses in the gospel of Luke, and yet their witness and memory are like “footprints in the snow.”
While walking on a lonely road after a snowfall, the wind was howling up a storm. I noticed how the footprints imprinted in the snow gradually disappeared as the wind swept new snow across the road…slowly erasing any signs of a human walking. But did they truly disappear?
Simeon and Anna are like those footprints that are covered over by the winds of time. But under the surface of life, the footprints of these two prophets continue to “trod” a hidden path to the messiah. Their consistent prayer and patient waiting were grounded in an act of love deeply rooted in faith and the Promise of God.
We are all making our own “footprints” creating a path as we slowly pilgrim our way through life. This “path” of footprints exists under the surface and can be seen with eyes of faith. Sometimes the wind of the Spirit clears away that which fills them, so they can be plainly seen. Every act of kindness, mercy, justice, reconciliation creates an imprint that can be followed. The Saints have given us multitudes of foot printed paths through their witness. Faith has a way of clearing these paths so that we can see them and create a unique path with our own “footprint.”
What path am I creating has become a piercing question, as the year comes to an end. I have been blessed with the example of so many women and men who have carved out a beautiful path of gospel witness: walking into the streets with food for the poor, visiting the sick and lonely, supporting the immigrant and refugee, teaching children, caring for the home, tending the garden, creatively investing the economy to helo our needy, serving behind the counter, collecting our waste…the list endless and the paths marked by individual human beings our spiritual GPS. Where do our footprints lead? Around a tight-knit circle of life…or OUTWARD into humanity?
Peace. Fr. Frank