30 December 2010Luke 2:36-40
"At that moment (Anna) came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem." (v. 38)
The meeting with Anna follows on from Mary and Joseph's
encounter with Simeon in the Temple, and serves to confirm
the truth of Simeon's words about Jesus.
Anna was a prophet, a woman of faith and devotion, who had been widowed for many years (verse 37). She too has been watching and waiting in the Temple, and now that Jesus has come, she too begins to praise God and to speak of Jesus to "all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem". Perhaps too there is a pointer to that moment in Luke's Gospel where Jesus will himself come to weep over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44).
There is a sense in which Anna and Simeon together represent all the faithful people of Israel, longing for God's Messiah to come. Moreover in Anna, we also see another theme from the Old Testament being fulfilled, as an aged (and presumably barren) widow is able to delight in the birth of a young child which will fulfil God's promises.
The passage closes with a reminder that everything which has taken place was done as "required by the law of the Lord" (verse 39). Jesus and his family then return home, to Nazareth in Galilee. It is there that he grows up and becomes strong, "filled with wisdom" for "the favour of God was upon him" (verse 40).
Anna, it is said, never left the Temple but spent all her time in prayer and fasting. How much do we value the importance of prayer in our lives?
Anna and Simeon are two old people who play an important part in sharing the joy of Jesus' birth. How far in our acts of celebration do we enable people of all ages, old and young, to join in?
How can their (ie Anna's and Simeon's) example encourage us to ensure that young people among us grow in wisdom as well as strength?