Thursday, 2 February 2012

The Prophecies of Simeon and Anna

You may find, as I do, that in reading and re-reading the Gospels, you grow to love certain characters who appear quite fleetingly but to great effect.

I am thinking just now of Simeon and Anna, who appear in Chapter 2 of St Luke’s Gospel, in his account of Jesus’s presentation in the Temple. Verses 25 to 35 refer to Simeon, and verses 36 to 38 to Anna.

It’s interesting that the words of Anna, who is specifically described as a prophetess, are not recorded. Luke says, simply, that “she gave thanks to God, and spoke of Him [of Jesus] to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.”

Simeon, while not actually called a prophet by Luke, brims over with prophetic words that are both beautiful and ominous. He utters the famous words, “Lord, now let your servant depart in peace” – he who had lived to a very great age with the Divine promise that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. He speaks of Jesus as the Lord’s salvation, as a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and as the glory of Israel. He tells Mary of the sword that will pierce her heart.

Simeon and Anna complete the small but wide-ranging group of witnesses to the Incarnation, birth and infancy of Christ. Zechariah and Elizabeth, a priest of the Temple and his wife, share in that extraordinary time at the very beginning. Their own longed-for child, John, leaps in Elizabeth's womb at the sound of the voice of Mary, who is already, to Elizabeth, "the mother of my Lord". The shepherds, in all probability quite poor and uneducated, and ranging in age from boys to old men, visit the new-born Jesus. The Wise Men, exotic foreigners, Gentiles, practitioners of strange sciences, bring expensive gifts full of meaning. And finally we meet two very old saints, prophets, in the great Temple of Jerusalem. They are really a cross-section of human life, greeting Our Lord at the start of His earthly journey; and how wonderful that is.

Picture from via Google Images

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