Holy and Righteous Simeon the God-receiver and Anna the Prophetess 


… Simeon 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. (Luke 2:34-38)


Today in the Church we commemorate the Holy and Righteous Simeon the God-receiver and Anna the Prophetess.  Below are two comments from the Patristic era commenting on these two saints who both saw the infant Jesus in the Jerusalem temple. Both authors, Origen and Bede, see the appearance of Anna in the Temple when Mary and Joseph came to make an offering for their newborn son to be proof that both women and men are saved by Jesus Christ. Like most Patristic biblical commentators, they thought every passage in Scripture was significant for salvation. The sudden appearance of this women prophetess thus is teaching us about God’s plan for the salvation of the human race. Though her role in the biblical text is minimal, the Patristic writers saw Anna as a significant sign for the salvation of all humans.

52611900489_2fe61ccd9d_wBecause it was necessary that women too should be saved, after Simeon there came a woman who was a prophet. Scripture says of her, “And Anna was a prophetess, a daughter of Phanuel, from the tribe of Asher.” How beautiful the order is! The woman did not come before the man. First came Simeon, who took the child and held him in his arms. Then came the woman. Her exact words are not recorded. But the account says in general terms that “she gave praise to the Lord and spoke about him to everyone who was awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem. (Origen, HOMILIES ON THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 17.9)

Simeon and Anna, a man and a woman of advanced age, greeted the Lord with the devoted services of their professions of faith. As they saw him, he was small in body, but they understood him to be great in his divinity. Figuratively speaking, this denotes the synagogue, the Jewish people, who, wearied by the long awaiting of his incarnation, were ready with both their arms (their pious actions) and their voices (their unfeigned faith) to exalt and magnify him as soon as he came. They were ready to acclaim him and say, “Direct me in your truth and teach me, for you are my saving God, and for you I have waited all the day.” What needs to be mentioned, too, is that deservedly both sexes hurried to meet him, offering congratulations, since he appeared as the Redeemer of both. (Bede, HOMILIES ON THE GOSPELS 1.18)


So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)

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