Today's Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the temple gives us an opportunity to reflect on two wonderful people - Simeon and Anna. Both of them knew that sometimes you have to be patient in order to see God's plan fulfilled. Luke 2: 22-40 details the patient waiting of Simeon, who was promised that he would not die until he had seen "the Christ of the Lord". His beautiful words when he realized that God had finally fulfilled that promise are not only recorded in Scripture, but also are prayed every night by priests, deacons, religious and laity in the official prayer of the Church, the Liturgy of the Hours.
Anna, we are told, was eighty-four years old and still in the temple day and night, praying and fasting. When this wonderful woman saw the Christ, she gave hope to all who "were awaiting the redemption of Israel." Now I am sure that many people had told them over the years to go home and "get on with their lives". But if they had we would not be able to see the beauty and dignity of following God's time. We so often pray and ask for God to help us in a particular way. And we usually have a time-line that goes with it. Both Simeon and Anna show us that God cannot be rushed. Sometimes it takes patience before we see the results of our petitions. In fact, often it may seem that God does not hear our prayers when, in fact, we simply have to wait a while until we see the answer. Or we perhaps are so wrapped up in the answer we want that we do not perceive the different answer that God is giving.
This feast focuses on the ceremony in which Jesus was presented to God in the temple, a beautiful but quite ordinary ceremony that every first-born underwent. Those who witnessed it did not give it another thought - He was probably one of many who were presented that day. Simeon and Anna saw things differently. They saw with God's eyes, and realized that prayers were being fulfilled right before their eyes. It would take many more years before Jesus would fulfill His mission and redeem humanity. But Simeon and Ann had already set the tone. If we are steadfast in faith, one day we too will see "a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for Your people Israel."