The Fulfillment of God's Plan
“And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God.…”
Today we are invited to join the Holy Family in a very intimate and sacred moment. We follow as they gently carry the Infant along the pathways and into the holy city of Jerusalem. Today the child, as the first-born Son, must be offered to God. This is a happy day for the parents of Jesus. They will perform the expected ritual with great joy and thanksgiving. God has entrusted them with such an unexpected treasure in this child.
As they approach the priest who will receive their Son, Mary and Joseph find themselves in a throng of other couples with their sons, other relatives who accompany them, and curious passersby. An old woman stands to the side, an obviously pious grandmother.
Luke confirms their observation. She is Anna, daughter of Phanuel of Asher’s tribe. Although the Gospel doesn’t mention whether she had children or not, she has been widowed now for most of her life.
Anna has a special calling from God. She is a prophet. It is not recorded whether she ever prophesied before or after this day, but today she speaks for God, introducing the Christ Child to all who are present. And she continues throughout the ages to proclaim him to all who are awaiting redemption, whenever this passage of Luke is read. Not only does she proclaim him to us with her words, but her life was a prophecy of the life he was beginning that day. Jesus, we are told, went on to grow and become strong, filled with wisdom and the favor of God. Anna had spent her years foreshadowing this. “She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.” She invites us today, not to stay in the temple, but to have hearts attuned to God, hearts that, by their very attentiveness, worship night and day. Then, not just in this season, but every day, our lives will be a prophecy of the Lord’s coming.
Lord, let me live each day before you that I may be aware of your approach. You come most often in weakness, in poverty, in ordinariness, from the midst of my everyday routine. Prepare me to witness to you as Anna was prepared, by a life of prayerfulness lived in your presence. May my life be filled with your wisdom, strength, and favor today and always. Amen.
“… and [she] spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.”
Daughters of Saint Paul. (2009). Advent Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections (pp. 92–93). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.