Jesus drew all people to himself, men and women, rich and poor, old and young. Even at his birth this was so – the shepherds, the wise men, Simeon and Anna meet him. Their meeting with the Child is described in Luke’s account we read today. (Luke 2)
There was no need to bring Jesus to the temple for circumcision, or the purification of Mary, or his presentation there, but Luke reports that Mary and Joseph brought the Child to the temple, where God is present, to offer him to his Father.
Luke’s account doesn’t dwell on the ritual – he may not know much about it. He doesn’t write about what the priest does, or even describe much of what Mary and Joseph do. God is at the heart of his story, revealing himself through the Infant to two elderly Jews, Simeon and Anna, who wait patiently for the Messiah.
They’ve waited for years. They come from that great crowd Rembrandt pictures (Above) in the temple waiting in the dark. But the long waiting has not dulled their eyes. Waiting in the temple has made them sharper, for they see salvation in this little infant, ” a light of revelation to the gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”
The temple is where the destiny of Jesus is revealed in Luke’s gospel. He begins his journey to the Father there at his birth, and he already draws those who will accompany him on his journey, beginning with Simeon and Anna and extending even to the gentile world who will receive his light.
Simeon’s prophecy offers a somber note as he turns to Mary. “Your own soul a sword shall pierce.” The glory of the Lord the angels proclaim at Jesus’ birth is not without the experience of sorrow.
We’re living in an aging society; our elderly population is increasing. The temptation is to see old age as a stage in life when all is over, but this gospel story makes us reconsider, doesn’t it? The Lord comes at every moment of life. He draws us to himself our whole life long.
Not only did Simeon and Anna wonder at the child they saw and held in their arms, but they spoke about him to those “waiting for the redemption of Israel.” “ Old men (and women) ought to be explorers.” And apostles.