"When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord’), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.’

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, ‘Master, now you are dismissing your servant 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 the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.’ There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him."

Luke 2: 22-39 (NRSV)

An encounter between generations. For Simeon and Anna, old age would have brought some of its attendant burdens – but it is in the twilight of their lives that they encounter the One for whom Israel is waiting. Their wisdom enables them to see in this Child a person of destiny – but know the potential price of that destiny. It will lead to suffering and for the one who witnesses it, pain as of a sword piercing her heart.

Old age can bring infirmity and increasing dependence on others. It can be a time of loneliness and a feeling of no longer being valued – even of being a burden to family and friends.

Pray for those for whom old age is a time of trial and increasing disability – and for those who care for them.

     Mary, Lady of the prophecy of Simeon,
     you received his words spoken with the wisdom of age
     and pondered them long in your heart.
     Pray for those who feel burdened by old age;
     may the patience of Simeon and Anna offer them a model of hope
     as they approach the day when they too encounter your Son.

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