In the liturgical season which follows Christmas until February 2nd, several events remind us the Jewish identity of Jesus: his circumcision on the eighth day and, around one month later, his redeeming as a first born as well as the purification of Mary like all Jewish women after giving birth.
At the circumcision Jesus receives his name (Luke 2,21), which means his vocation. He enters into the covenant of Abraham (cf Ex 17), he takes his place into the people of the covenant as « God who saves » (Yeshua).
In the context of the redeeming of the first born and of the purification of Mary (Luke 2,22-40 ; Ex 13, 11-15 Lev 12), appear Simeon and Anna, « Shim’on », the one who listens, « Hanna », whose name evokes the gratuitousness of God. One is waiting for the consolation of Israel, the other for the redemption of Jerusalem, two messianic concepts which both come from Prophet Isaiah (40, 1; 44,6 and many other passages)
In Luke’s text, 5 times is mentioned the fulfilment of the law or of the Scriptures. In this humble context of fidelity to the law of Moses, Simeon, inspired by the Holy Spirit (mentioned three times) recognizes in the new born, « the light for the revelation to the nations and the glory of Israel his people » (cf Is 49,3-7)
The glory, in Hebrew « kavod », is the weight of God, the way the Lord reveals visibly his invisibility; the Lord, we could say, manifests all the weight of his love in being incarnate in this specific people, the laws of which he observes faithfully. And this is the light that the nations have to receive. On the other hand Israel is called to welcome into the covenant the Nations to whom the lord wants also to reveal the boundless weight of his love.
By the way, the age of Anna, 84, according to the symbolism of the numbers in the Bible and Jewish tradition, carries an allusion to the particular and the universal of God’s salvation: 84 is 12 times 7. 12 is the number of Israel, and 7 is the traditional number of the nations. This revelation is and remains a sign of contradiction: how such an extreme particular can embrace such a universal. Thus it cannot avoid the cross with which Mary is so tightly associated (a sword will pierce your heart). She more than any other was able to measure the weight of the love of God incarnated in her own flesh.
Sister Anne-Catherine Avril, Notre Dame de Sion