December 30, 2015
Wednesday, Octave of Christmas Lectionary 203
1 John 2:12-17 Ps. 96 Luke 2:36-40
There are people in the Bible that are referenced only once and we know very little about them. Simeon and Anna are such persons. Anna is featured in today’s gospel as a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. Can you imagine this woman of 84 years spending ALL her time in the Temple. Talk about a contemplative vocation. This was unheard of in those days. But her calling was to worship the God of Israel with fasting and prayer while she waited for God to take action in our world.
Mary and Joseph carry Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem for presentation in accordance with Jewish law. There they encounter Simeon who took Jesus in his arms and proclaimed him as the light to the Gentiles. He also tells Mary that her heart will be pierced with a sword for her Son will be a sign that will be contradicted. Anna is no less exuberant as she encounters Jesus, Mary and Joseph. She echoes Simeon’s praise of God “and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Israel.” Today we would call her an evangelist. Can you imagine the stir her words caused among the priests and people? Meanwhile, the Holy Family slips away without causing any more fuss for the unsuspecting Jewish leaders.
We admire people who are true to their calling without knowing all the details of God’s will for them. Certainly Mary and Joseph were like that. Their lives became very complicated after the visits of Archangel Gabriel. Their untimely trip to Bethlehem during Mary’s late term pregnancy certainly tested their faith and understanding of God’s ways. Anna also waited upon the Lord to behold the promised Messiah, and she was not disappointed. God is faithful to all his promises.
Are you ever unsure about God’s plan for your life and find it hard to be patient? Anna teaches us the value of waiting upon the Lord in a spirit of prayer and fasting. Our problem is that God’s timing is not our timing. In a world that wants instant results, our faith is tested by waiting for God to act in the trials and sufferings we face. We question the silence of God when we are looking for answers. It is good to remember that God is a loving Father who wants what is good for all his children. All will be well.