The Prophetess Anna

Luke 2: 36-40
1 Jn 2: 12-17/ Ps 96:7-8a, 8b-9, 10

She never left the temple but worshipped there with fasting and prayer…
(Luke 2:37)

In our devotion lies salvation
Prayer always brings out the best;
To the hopeful and the prayerful
Grace from heaven will come to rest.

There was also a prophetess named Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of great age, having lived with her husband for seven years after her marriage, then as a widow up to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him. (Luke 2:36-40)

Reflection

As we come to the end of this year, the Word of God shows us the life of Anna, the prophetess in the temple of Jerusalem where Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to be presented to the Lord. Little is known about her life, except that she was widowed after a brief marriage of seven years, and never remarried, but decided to spend the rest of her life praying in the temple, and fasting night and day. Like Simeon before her, she was also privileged by the Holy Spirit to recognize and to proclaim the baby Jesus as the promised Messiah. It is only in the Gospel of Luke that we read about this account of the prophetess Anna, and we find no other prophetess in the Old or the New Testament. Anna was an old widow, considered a nobody, a “discard” in Jewish society. And yet, for all her poverty and insignificance, she was exalted by the Holy Spirit, given a special place as one of the earliest “heralds” of the Redeemer.

If only for today and perhaps tomorrow as well, let us follow the example of Anna, the prophetess, and spend the ebbing hours of 2010 in meditation for the year that was, so that we can prepare for the new year that will soon be upon us. The widow Anna, assuming she married at the age of 17 (as was the custom at the time) spent 60 years of her life worshipping God, fasting and praying in the temple. How much time did we spend in church or in prayers at home to worship the Lord? Have we been nourishing our spiritual life this past year by receiving Jesus more often in the Holy Eucharist? Or have we instead been too busy pursuing temporal ambitions and enjoying material comforts and indulgences?

Let us meditate on the words of St. John in the first reading: “Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, sensual lust, enticement for the eyes, and a pretentious life, is not from the Father but is from the world. Yet the world and its enticement are passing away. But whoever does the will of the Father remains forever.” (1John 2:15-17)

Forgive us, Lord, if we have not been as prayerful this past year. May the example of the prophetess Anna inspire us to come to Your presence more frequently in prayer and adoration this coming year, and for always. Amen.

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