30th December: Anna The Prophetess

Mass readings for today can be found here

Gospel from Luke 2 : 36-40

There was a prophetess, Anna,
the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. 
Rembrandt's Anna

She was advanced in years,
having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage,
and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. 

She never left the temple,
but worshipped night and day with fasting and prayer. 

And coming forward at that very time,
she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child
to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.

When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions
of 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


Anna was a prophetess, daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher, thus a Galilean, living in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus’ birth.

“Of great age,” she must have been considerably over a hundred years, having been a widow eighty-four years after a short married life of seven.

Exceptionally devout and gifted in spirit, she worshipped so constantly “with fasting and prayer night and day,” that it is said she “did not depart from the temple.”

That her lineage is recorded indicates the distinction of her family. Tradition says that the tribe of Asher was noted for the beauty and talent of its women, who, for these gifts, were qualified for royal and high-priestly marriage. While the tribe of Asher was not among the tribes that returned from the Babylonian exile to Palestine, many of its chief families must have done so as in the case of the prophetess. 

The period of war and national oppression through which Anna’s early life was passed created in her, as in the aged Simeon, an intense longing for the “redemption” promised through the Messiah. 

This hope of national deliverance sustained her through more than four decades of patient waiting. In the birth of Jesus her faith was abundantly rewarded, and she became a grateful and ceaseless witness, “to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem,” that day of their spiritual deliverance has come. "

Bromiley, Geoffrey W. "Anna." The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.
4 vols. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1979

While the debate within the Catholic church over the role women play is in a dismally poor state, here it is crystal-clear that women had a role of Christian prophecy. 
God wants women in prophetic roles. He knows that there is a place for them.  

Where will there be a place to nurture young prophetesses for the future I wonder ?


Anonymous said...

Love this Phil. It's about time, don't you think?

Philomena Ewing said...

It certainly is and is one of the things I pray for all the time. A little girl altar server said to me last week she would like to be "something in the church" but not a nun ! Maybe a prophet ?

Anonymous said...

In a fourth grade class I was teaching once I asked how many Sacraments were there. One girl (prophet) answered '10 for boys, 9 for girls'