“I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let what you have said be done to me.”
Monday, 28 December 2020
We are introduced to many different characters in the opening chapters of Luke’s Gospel. Yesterday, on the Feast of the Holy Family, we were introduced to an elderly couple, Simeon and the prophetess Anna. They are figures often overlooked in the Gospel.
When Jesus is presented in the temple, we are told that they both know who Jesus is in the purest sense. It is as if they have an alternative lens to their contemporaries. Many in Israel were expecting a powerful saviour, a messiah, who was a political-like figure. They thought in terms of political liberation alone. Later in the Gospels, we see how the disciples too, struggle to understand what kind of Messiah Jesus was going to be. Few were expecting a universal saviour who would announce through words and deeds the reign of God’s kingdom.
We are told that Simeon takes the child Jesus in his arms and raises him in an offering gesture. He blesses God. The old man knows that the sun is setting on his life, but he has an extraordinary insight into the child he encounters. He knows that this is the dawn of the reign of God.
The prophetess Anna also praises God and speaks of the child as the one who is to deliver Israel. She too sees in this moment more than her contemporaries. She has wisdom they do not.
We live in a society that, so often, relegates the elderly to the margins. We do not really listen to them. We put the elderly in old age homes and many are forgotten. Younger people can easily negate the life experience of the elderly by dismissing what they have to offer as “old fashioned” or “irrelevant”. Yet, Simeon and Anna teach us that those who have lived life well, who have been good and faithful servants, who are God-fearing, have a wisdom that we should pay attention to. They have a different lens through which they interpret the signs of the times. They have a perspective that we who are younger do not always have.
Who, today, might be the Simeon and Anna in your life? Ones that offer you a different perspective, wisdom that sees more than you can?