This Sunday the church celebrates the feast of the Holy Family. Today, the day before the feast, the lectionary gives us the short scene in Luke's gospel in which Jesus is presented in the temple as a six-week old baby. The scene involves the old man, Simeon, who recognizes the baby as the long-awaited messiah. Luke, however, always has a female character to match whenever a male has a particular role, and this scene is no exception. After Simeon holds the babe in his arms and prophecies, a woman appears on the scene:
There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem (Lk 2:25-37).
Notice the last verse: "[she] spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem." I picture Anna walking around the temple area buttonholing unsuspecting visitors and joyfully proclaiming that she has just met the messiah.
I wonder what they thought when they saw her face glowing with excitement, and sensed her whole being radiating joy? They must have figured that she had had some sort of powerful experience of the Lord's presence.
May we experience God's love in our lives, and then, like Anna, tell everyone around us about the child. May the Child of Bethlehem bless our families with his presence and his peace!