“[Simeon] came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, He took him into his arms and blessed God” (Lk 2:27-28)

TODAY’S GOSPEL

Recently, in meditating upon the Joyful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary, especially considering the Visitation and Presentation, it occurred to me that it seemed quite appropriate that just as had happened to Elizabeth that “at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy” (Lk 1:44), so with Simeon something similar happened. This is pure speculation, of course, but imagine Simeon in discussion or in prayer and suddenly he hears this conversation:

Mary, come this way.

Yes, Joseph. Let us follow your father, Jesus my son.

Would not the voice of the Mother of God cause Simeon’s heart to “leap for joy,” especially since “[h]e came in the Spirit into the temple,” quite possibly in a special way, that day? In an instant he realizes that the encounter for which he had been waiting for seemingly endless days has now arrived. Had he prepared a little speech for that event? Maybe. But I bet that even if that was so, whatever he had planned to say was overridden by the immensity and intensity of the moment and the movement of the Spirit. How those in the temple must have been astonished! I don’t imagine the old man was reticent about proclaiming in a loud voice the Messiah he held in his arms. And did not all pay attention to his words, as we should today? This was a Savior for all peoples: Jew and Gentile alike. This babe was “destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel.” How many witnesses in the temple that day would, thirty years hence, connect the preacher who led a powerful ministry ending in death with this Child? And would they remember the words said to His mother (“and you yourself a sword will pierce”) as they witnessed her standing resolutely at the Cross? Would they not feel particularly compassionate toward this woman who watched her Son, who went about only doing good, tortured and killed?

Let us not forget to mention Anna, either. She was likely living in the temple for sixty or more years — three generations would have known of her. As a “prophetess,” I’m quite sure that it wasn’t only after the appearance of the baby Jesus that she “spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.” I imagine she had been preparing temple visitors for decades for an upcoming momentous event. Undoubtedly, some thought her daft, others pitied her, and more than a few felt a combination of the two. But whatever was whispered of her was of no concern to the old lady. She had a special relationship with the Lord and she was supremely confident in His faithfulness. And when the day finally came that her prophecy was fulfilled, it would have not been an “I told you so” moment for the pious woman, but rather, “I must tell you so.” How long either Simeon or Anna lived, we do not know. But we can be sure that for the remainder of their days they did not stop praising God and telling anyone who would listen of the wondrous thing He had done in their midst in the fullness of time.

St. Simeon and St. Anna, pray for us.

FOR FURTHER READING

I have long recommended Venerable Fulton Sheen’s Life of Christ and The World’s First Love as the first books (after the Gospels) on Jesus and Mary respectively I would give to anyone who wanted to know more about them. The first book has an interesting extended discussion of the Presentation that is well worth reading.

Make a resolution now to work through at least one good Catholic book a month in 2021 along with daily reading of the best Catholic book, the Bible.

Simeon and Anna - Gospelimages
Simeon and Anna (contemporary) by Jan van ‘t Hoff

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