February 2, 2009

What Simeon and Anna Teach Us

The Presentation of our Lord

Today is the feast of the Presentation of the Lord at the temple, known as Candlemas, and also one of the joyful mysteries of the Rosary. The Scripture readings give us a picture of the two holy characters whom Jesus and the Holy Family meet on the day of the consecration.

First there is Simeon, who is described as righteous and devout, and patient! Luke's gospel portrays him as one waiting patiently and prayerfully for Israel's consolation. In return for living a life in the will of God, the Holy Spirit has revealed to Simeon that he will not die till he sees the messiah. In fact, it says Simeon even comes into the temple "in the Spirit."

Then there is the prophetess Anna, an 84-year-old widow who lives and worships in the temple day and night with prayer and fasting. She sees the child Jesus and cannot hold in her joy.

What did the two have in common?

  • They both led lives of continuous prayer. Simeon was described as devout and righteous, Anna as prayerful and pious. Anna never left the temple because her life was entirely devoted to prayer and worship.

  • This continuous prayer led to the constant presence of the Lord in their lives. Anna devotes her years to nothing less than the things of God -- away from the world, away from obsession with material goods, away from sin. Simeon lived his life in the Spirit, allowing the Holy Spirit to lead his steps and enfuse his character. What a close relationship! Thus, the Lord is ever-present in their lives.

  • As gifts, they both were given communicative powers which allow them to share their testimonies with others -- ultimately allowing them to be vessels through whom God speaks. Anna gives thanks to God and speaks about the child to all awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem. I can imagine her excited voice, her praise and thanksgiving as she shares with strangers the fact that the messiah is come. Simeon bursts out in his canticle of joy, his beautiful prayer of praise at seeing the child Jesus. At the same time, his words to Mother Mary contain prophetic statements that could only have come from God.

  • Finally they both had a consecrated pleasure, a holy peace and joy in their lives. With the Lord in their daily walk, they had everything they needed or wanted. By allowing God to work through their talents and their availability, they experienced the most special gift of all -- being able to see the Lord Jesus face-to-face.

"Now, Master, you may let your servant go
in peace, according to your word,
for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples..."

- Luke 2:29-31 -

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