This blog is dedicated to Anna.
Every year on the Feast of the Presentation the Gospel is read of Mary and Joseph proudly bringing their baby to the Temple to be circumcised and consecrated to the Lord. They came in carrying a little dove – a sign of their poverty. There they meet up with Simeon and Anna. Simeon is wise and holy. He takes the baby in his arms and prays, “Now, O Lord, you can dismiss your servant. With my own eyes I have seen your salvation.” Then he prophecies about the child and forewarns Mary about the things she will have to endure in her life. They weren’t expecting this. It probably caused them a lot of anxiety and fear. ( For some reason every time I read this I get a mental image of that scene in The Lion King where the old, wise monkey holds the cub up to show the entire animal kingdom and rays of light come down upon him as the elephants, zebras and warthogs bow before him. I know it wasn’t like that, but that’s what goes through my mind anyway.)
Now Anna…she’s the one they never talk about. You almost never hear a sermon about her, but she’s still alive and going strong today. She is the patroness of all church ladies.
Anna was a widow who spent all her time in the temple area, probably emptying out the incense thurible, cleaning up the leftover sacrifices and putting clean linens on the altar. It wouldn’t surprise me if she also cooked and baked for Simeon. What did she do when she saw the young couple? She oogled and cooed, probably pinched his fat little cheeks and done a toothless love bite on the baby’s belly to make him chortle. She must have made Mary and Joseph smile because, like so many other new parents who bring their new little one into the church for the first time, they were proud of their son. She then leaves the temple and goes off to tell everyone about the baby.
Anna welcomed, she laughed, she loved, she did what needed to be done, she evangelized. And she’s my hero.