January 20, 2015
Tuesday of week 2 in Ordinary Time
or Saint Fabian, Pope, Martyr
or Saint Sebastian, Martyr
Jesus is the “Anchor of the Soul”
Demonstrate eagerness for the fulfillment of hope
Anchors keep us where we are. Hope usually looks to where we want to go. Jesus is the key to both.
The word “anchorite” has nothing to do with anchors. It designates someone called to “withdraw” (anachorein) into a solitary life of prayer and contemplation. The anchorite often lived, like Julian of Norwich, in a small room, or cell, attached to the side of a church, which, by an inevitable play on words, came to be called an “anchorhold,” where the anchorite or anchoress was “not cut-off from the world, but anchored in it”—anchored through glued adhesion to Christ (Google 3.gorge.net/paddler/#Anchorhold).
The word anachorein is a thematic word in Matthew’s Gospel. In the face of conflict, Jesus repeatedly “withdrew.” When he heard that John the Baptizer had been arrested, he “withdrew to Galilee.” When the Pharisees plotted to destroy him, he “withdrew.” When he heard that Herod had killed John, he “withdrew to a deserted place by himself.” When the Pharisees took offense at his denunciation of them, he “withdrew” to the non-Jewish district of Tyre and Sidon. (Matthew 4:12; 12:15; 14:13; 15:21).
The word fugein, to “flee,” is never used of Jesus. He “withdraws” in strategic retreat, as we should when we need to “anchor” ourselves in what keeps us from being swept away or blown off course by the hostile winds and currents of this world.
We withdraw to Jesus. Our anchor is Jesus himself. He told us: “Everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock;” and “Whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Matthew 7:24; 12:30). Jesus gives stability and security to our lives
Jesus is a mobile anchor. That sounds like a contradiction until we reflect on the need to stay grounded in tradition while we change constantly in response to the “wild winds of fortune” from the Holy Spirit that “carry us onward, whithersoever they blow.” We need to be “at anchor” and moving at the same time.
To show true faith and confidence in Jesus as “anchor of the soul,” a Christian has to “demonstrate eagerness for the fulfillment of hope.” We have hope that Jesus is doing things through us in this world. The “pilgrim Church” is on the move, helping all humanity to chart a course. We have to keep up forward motion in response to the Spirit “until the end” when Jesus comes in triumph and glory. For this we need to maintain “eagerness for the fulfillment” of all we hope for, so that we may not become “sluggish” or “slow in heart” (Bible in Basic English, Cambridge Press, 1964); or “spiritually dull and indifferent” (New Living Translation, Tyndale House, 1996).
Do I choose to put my hope in Jesus for both stability and progress? Do I recognize him as the anchor of my soul?
Pray: “Almighty ever-living God, you govern all things, in heaven and on earth. Hear the prayer of your people and bestow your peace on our times!”
Practice: Learn how to anchor yourself to Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life.