And you will say in that day: Give thanks to the Lord, call on God’s name; make known God’s deeds among the nations; proclaim that God’s name is exalted. — Isaiah 12:4
Anna spent every day of her life in the Temple. She knew who came and who went, and her eyes were peeled. Along with Simeon, she was looking for the fulfillment of God’s promises. Anna spent her days speaking, sometimes shouting at the top of her lungs, that God had not abandoned the people. But as Anna looked around, she mourned the direction that things were moving in.
The Caesars and the Herods ruled Jerusalem with an iron fist. Rome occupied the Holy city of Jerusalem. Even the King of the Jews, Herod, did everything Caesar wanted him to do. There were no princes, or kings, or rulers who had any concern for the well-being of the common people, and as long these cruel leaders were in control, there was no consolation for Israel and no redemption for Jerusalem.
Anna saw what was happening in the Temple, too. The signs of power and greed that were overtaking the region had begun to overtake the Temple itself. Money changers overcrowded the corridors of the Temple, each of them profiting off of every transaction. Exploiting poor peasants like Mary and Joseph was an everyday practice for the Temple money changers. Merchants were selling animals for sacrifice at unfair prices.
Anna spoke against this type of sin. This was God’s Temple and God was never interested in these kinds of riches. Anna was concerned that wealth was becoming the peoples’ new salvation and greed their new God. But Anna knew that real salvation never involved collecting more and more. Salvation was about how God’s love frees us to give more and more of ourselves to one another.
Anna hoped for a new type of power, one that changed people’s hearts—one that brought princes to their knees and made the rulers of the earth into nothing. The only kind of power mighty enough to bring down princes, kings, and the occupying Roman authorities would have to come from God. What Anna hoped for was a Messiah.
The Messiah would be someone who would come from among the people and speak for the people, who would give them a voice, and a new way to see how God works among God’s people. The Messiah, Anna hoped, would usher in a new kingdom. One stronger and more meaningful than any that had ever existed before. Not one that exploited the people, but one that raised them up and freed them.
Anna waited in the temple for the one who would come to redeem us all.
Anna listened closely, she looked around. The promises of God were about to unfold before her.
A reflection by Pat Ryan.