“There was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him… There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.”
Simeon and Anna draw our attention to the child Jesus in a remarkable way. They are not priests or Pharisees or scribes. Neither one has an official role in the Temple worship; they represent the people “in the pews.” Both Simeon and Anna are everyday people of faith; the thing that defines them is prayer. They are able to recognize Jesus because they are already in the habit of listening to the Holy Spirit.
Simeon and Anna devoted a great deal of time to prayer and worship. Their good works consisted in prayer and fasting, devotion and righteousness. They spoke with the guidance of the Holy Spirit because they were already living by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This is something we can all emulate in our lives. Each of our individual vocations can be lived out with prayer and fasting, devotion and righteousness.
As the presence of Jesus the true High Priest caused Simeon to cry out in joyful song, we can rejoice in song each time we come to Mass and receive Him in the Eucharist. We can walk away from Holy Communion singing like Simeon: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” And, like Anna, we can give thanks to God and speak of Jesus to everyone whom we meet. The more time we spend with Jesus in prayer and reflection, the more He will dominate our thoughts, words, and actions in the rest of our lives. The more we reflect on Him, the more we will reflect His Light to the world. May our time spent in prayer and contemplation enrich us and overflow into each and every moment of our lives.