The Presentation is one of the joyful mysteries and I have imagined it many times over the years. Mary proudly carrying her beautiful son while Joseph carried the two turtledoves. They gave the doves to Simeon the priest who after offering the doves took the child in his arms and praised God. Anna, an aged widow, nearby comes to see the baby as well.
Wonderful, beautiful, except it didn’t happen that way. Mary and Anna would not have been allowed any further than the Court of the Women. This was not just for women only, any Jew could come there, but the women could proceed no further.
The Temple treasury was also in the Court of the Women. Thirteen chests also called trumpets for their shape, lined the walls. They were narrow at the top and large at the bottom. Each trumpet was labeled for its purpose. Trumpet Three was for people who wanted to offer turtledoves. Mary and Joseph would have put a couple of coins in the trumpet. Sometime later, someone would have come and gathered the money from the trumpet and figured out how many turtledoves the priests had to offer. If not for Simeon and Anna, it would have been a very impersonal experience.
We don’t really know much about Simeon. He is just called a man in Jerusalem, it doesn’t specify a priest. God truly must have inspired him to go when he did. He saw that couple out of the crowd dropping a couple of coins into Trumpet Three and he knew this child was the One! He then gave a remarkable prophecy. First thanking God for allowing him to see the Messiah that he had waited so long for, then he prophesied regarding the future suffering of Jesus and Mary. I’ve heard it called the second Annunciation.
Both Simeon and Anna were old. I believe they represented the faithful of Israel who had grown old waiting for the Messiah. Simeon was from Jerusalem which at one point had been the capital of Judah the Southern Kingdom. Anna was from the tribe of Asher which was the northernmost tribe of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. That descendant of that tribe had remained faithful speaks of a remarkable faith lineage.
To begin with after Solomon, the Northern Kingdom separated from the Southern Kingdom. They no longer worshipped in the Temple in Jerusalem their king had set up alternative altars. Anna’s ancestors would have had to make the long trip to that Temple in defiance of the religious practices of their own tribes and country. This occurred about 930 years before Christ.
Then around 721 BC, her ancestors were conquered by the Assyrians and deported to other countries. Later the southern kingdom of Judah was also sent into exile to Babylon and the Temple was destroyed. It would not be until 538 BC that the Israelites were even given a homeland again and that was for the Jews from Judah.
So her ancestors would had to have kept the faith for at least two hundred years in a foreign land separated from the Temple and worship before they would have had even an outside chance of returning. Most people would have been assimilated into the culture. The religion of their ancestors would have been an ancient myth if it had been passed down at all. Anna represented the faithful of the Northern Kingdom of Israel who had contended for their faith for over 900 years.
The Messiah had come for both of them. Their hearts are what picked the Holy Family out from the crowd. They knew the One that they had been waiting for.
#trcot, #tcot, #Simeon #Anna #Presentation