Friday, 16 March 2012

23. Anna - age no barrier

What do we know of Anna, the first of our fabulous females of the New Testament? 

She was a prophetess and lived in the Temple; she 'worshipped night and day, fasting and praying' (Luke 2: 36-8). A role model for Lent then.

The translation of her marital history is unclear - she had either been married for only seven years and was now an 84 year old widow, or was married for seven years and had now been a widow for a further 84 (which would make her over 100...?) Either way, she was more or less now married to God Almighty.

With constant access to the divine, she has no problem recognising Messiah in the baby, Jesus, as his parents bring him to be presented in the Temple, according to Jewish custom.: 'She gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem' (Luke 2: 38).

No doubt to everyone else bustling around the Temple courts that day, pigeons squawking, clink of money changing hands, Mary's was just another baby from a poor-ish home, being brought for Jewish dedication, along with all the hopes and fears new parents always carry.

But not to Anna and her male counterpart, Simeon. They were alive to the divine moment, proving that old age is no bar to spiritual discernment and fervent proclamation. In a youth obsessed society, which is simultaneously ageing more than ever before, we could do with more Annas.

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