One of the most meaningful Pro-Life demonstrations I ever saw was a graduating High School class deciding to put out the number of empty seats with them in the graduates’ area of all the children who would have been graduating High School with them had they not been aborted. It was a powerful, silent, but effective witness of what had been sacrificed by the rampant abortions in this society. We truly are aborting our future!
You see, one life can make a difference. Think about the great progress we humans have made over the centuries. Hasn’t it been the spark in one heart, one mind, that lit the flame of freedom and growth and discovery? A person willing to pay whatever price was necessary to achieve, to discover, to reach a cure, or to set the captives free. Names flow through my head of heroes through the centuries whose lives made a difference in the lives of so many others. One life can change the world. One life has.
Look at our Lesson this morning in Luke 2:25-38:
At that time, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Symeon and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him; and Symeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed.” And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher; she was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years from her virginity, and as a widow till she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she gave thanks to God, and spoke of him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
If you say “Hey, didn’t we read this yesterday?” The answer is “Yes, we did.” Today is the Leavetaking of the Feast of the Presentation and we are staying with this theme to mine more spiritual wisdom from this major event in the history of the human race!
We already know about Symeon and what he had to say about this Child he held in his arms. But there is another person at the temple that day as well. Her name was Anna. This had to cause Mary some particular joy since the name of the mother of the Theotokos was also Anna. In fact, hasn’t it ever struck you as interesting that at every dismissal we recall the names Joachim and Anna, the grandparents of Jesus and the parents of Mary? What a joy to know the heritage of faithfulness and piety in the Lord’s family.
But this Anna was an elderly widow. She was very old but the Bible tells us she lost her husband after only 7 years of being married. And she spent the rest of her life in pious devotion. If anyone ever tells you that monasticism or single life is a waste, share with them the story of Anna.
Anna is also called a “prophetess.” Now be careful, this doesn’t mean she was able to foretell the future. The word “prophet” in Greek literally means “forth teller,” not “fortune teller.” Anna was a declarer of the Truth of God’s message. She declared the truth to the people about God’s wisdom and His salvation. She encouraged the People to be pious and observe the Law. She served God by preaching the truth to the People. And here she is af=gain telling the truth to the People. She declares Jesus as the “redemption of Israel.”
Notice this Feast of the Church brings us two very interesting persons: Symeon and Anna. Both are elderly. Both are expecting the Messiah. Both are pious and sensitive to God’s Spirit. And both obey God in declaring the Messiah had arrived in that Child brought to the Temple that day. So, don’t let anyone tell you you’re too old or too past your “prime” to serve God or be used by God to minister to others. You aren’t too old and it isn’t too late. Let the example of these two saints give you the courage to spend your last years serving God and telling His truth to the world! That Normal Orthodox life is meant for young and old alike!
P.S. You Who did sanctify the Virgin’s womb by Your birth, and did bless Symeon’s hands as was meet, by anticipation has even now saved us, O Christ God. But grant peace in the midst of wars unto Your commonwealth and strengthen the hierarchs whom You have loved, O only Friend of man.