The following reflection is by Associate Bonnie Chester.
“You are never too old.” I remember this phrase from a good friend (who also was my mother) when I contemplated returning to college at age 42 to earn an associate degree in physical therapy. Could I learn again and read a textbook? Could I understand Physics 101? Are you kidding? After all, cookbooks and light novels were the extent of my reading! I graduated with honors, passed the state exam and began a second career at 45! Like I said, “You are never too old. No excuses!”
Whenever I read the story of the Presentation of the Lord, which was recounted recently on the Feast of the Holy Family, I think of the prophetess Anna. This account is found only in Luke’s gospel, Chapter 2. If you spend some time with these verses, you will learn that there were two “advanced in years” persons included in this story. The first is Simeon. Luke does not state how old he was, but most paintings depict him with gray hair. Simeon took Jesus in his arms and praised God, saying “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation.”
I admire Simeon’s perseverance in prayer. He can be a model for you and me. His prayers were not immediately answered, but he came to the temple day after day. Is there something you pray for every day? Don’t lose heart.
Now there is also “never too old” Anna. Here we are sure that she has amassed a few years because Luke writes, “She was of great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four.” Anna, my heroine, has no thoughts of calling it quits. She not only “never left the temple, but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day.” At the moment she recognizes the baby Jesus, she begins “to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.” Can’t keep a good woman down, can you?
Anna lived her life serving God. She allowed the Lord to work in her, and this brought her to the recognition of this infant being brought to the temple for His presentation to the Lord. It had not been an easy life for her, being a widow all those years. Widows in those days did not have the same stature as those with husbands and families. But she lived every day in communion with the Lord, and it allowed her to recognize the infant, Jesus. No spoken words of Anna are recorded by Luke, but I can see her bursting forth with excitement and gratitude. She praised God, and I can see her dashing from the temple and courageously proclaiming to all who would listen, “Guess what I have to tell you?” Can you profess your faith without hesitation?
As you spend time with this account, remember these two elderly who were persistent in prayer. They showed up faithfully each day. We can learn from them that God is always at work in a quiet way in our lives, even when things seem impossible. So don’t give up and never think you are too old. God will show you things in your life if you stay close to Him with prayer, and you will recognize Him, just as Simeon and Anna recognized the infant, Jesus.
Lord, help me to stay positive when my prayers seem to go unanswered. As Simeon and Anna recognized You, let me see You in the world around me and with a strong faith, give me Anna’s courage to “speak out about the Child!” Amen.