It was a day that started without an expectation of anything unusual. Simeon and Anna set about making a visit to the Temple that had become part of their daily routine. Joseph and Mary were going to make the presentation of their child in the Temple, an optional but common practice of God-fearing parents. What started out as an ordinary day turned out to be a day with a meeting they would remember for a long time. Perhaps we too have had significant meetings on what we expected to be just an ordinary day?
Simeon acknowledged that not all would accept the light that would shine through Jesus, and this rejection would be a cause of pain to Mary. It can be a source of pain to parents, teachers, church ministers, and all who work for others when some reject values, projects, or advice which would be for their good. Perhaps a sword has pierced our soul as well. What has helped us to maintain hope in such times?
Even within ourselves we can be aware of division, at times being open to the light of God and at other times resisting it. Have we known the pain of that struggle? What has helped us to keep seeking the light of God?
The final sentence speaks of Jesus as one who grew and became strong and was filled with wisdom. What has helped us to grow in wisdom? Have we seen others grow in wisdom through the experience of life? Let us recall times when we had a sense of growing up in some way. What brought that about? Let us think also of how we have seen growth in another person.
The presentation of the Lord in the Temple was an important day for this little family, when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem. Did they expect everything to go smoothly, or had they already had to let go of some of their dreams and plans? After all, the story of Jesus’ birth had already been unusual, not to mention the shepherds turning up to visit the newborn Messiah. Still, they could not have expected two elderly people to suddenly appear in the Temple with a message about their child – that he was going to do great things but also would be rejected and cause great pain to his mother. Was it at this moment that they realized life would never be the same again?
The most important messages can come from unexpected sources. Anna and Simeon were advanced in years, wise and devout people who had lived well, and still hoped and trusted in God’s plan. This encounter was unexpected for them too, taking place close to the end of their lives; but they were ready, willing and able to recognize its significance. Their call was to be among the first people to encounter the Messiah and to share the Good News. What is our call? The story of Anna and Simeon shows us the value of being open to an encounter with Jesus. Despite what we have been through, or what stage we are at in life, there are good things to come. Each of us has something unique to offer. We pray that we will recognize the unexpected opportunities to encounter God that come our way.