Admiring Anna

Who is this mysterious woman we hear about in today’s Gospel (and this past weekend’s Gospel, for that matter)? 

Anna only appears one time across all four Gospels, in this passage from Luke. Yet, she is one of the more intriguing characters and someone from which we can learn a lot. 

Being a prophetess, Anna was blessed to have a close relationship with God and was advanced in a lot of spiritual ways. One thing that sticks out to me is her wisdom. Yes, Anna lived until she was 84 years old – a long life by today’s standards – which was well beyond the typical lifespan in ancient times, meaning that she was able to accumulate and grow in wisdom in a strictly secular sense. 

However, Anna was also spiritually wise as we can see in verse 39, “And coming forward at that time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Israel.” Anna knew who the child Jesus was – the Messiah who was long awaited by Israel. 

Wisdom is an oft-desired quality but can we say that we ourselves are spiritually wise? Can we truly say that we know Jesus as our Savior and Messiah? Even if our answer is no, fear not – for we can grow in spiritual wisdom. A great place to start would be asking the Holy Spirit to intercede for us and bestow His gift of wisdom upon us. We can’t just stop there, though. We need to work to know our Lord Jesus Christ – we come to know him in prayer, in receiving the sacraments and in each other. 

This is another thing that Anna does so well – she “never left the temple” and worshiped with “fasting and prayer.” It’s no wonder that Anna knew who Jesus was – because she constantly spent time in His Father’s house (that is, the temple – see Luke 2:49). 

How are you doing with prayer and the sacraments? Has your prayer life gone by the wayside? Have you stopped attending Mass due to the convenience of watching Mass from your recliner with a cup of coffee? If we are to truly know our Lord, these are things that cannot be set aside. 

As we approach the start of a new year, take a moment to pause and evaluate your spiritual life, using Anna as an example. If there’s an area or two where you need improvement, look to her for inspiration. 

May we all continue to know and serve the Lord better in 2021.

Contact the author

Erin Madden is a Cleveland native and graduate of the Franciscan University of Steubenville. Following graduation, she began volunteering in youth ministry at her home parish of Holy Family Church. Her first “big girl” job was in collegiate sports information where, after a busy two years in the profession on top of serving the youth, she took a leap of faith and followed the Lord’s call to full-time youth ministry at St. Peter Church. She still hopes to use her communication arts degree as a freelance writer and statistician, though. You can catch her on the Clarence & Peter Podcast on YouTube as well as follow her on Twitter @erinmadden2016.

Feature Image Credit: Xavier Coiffic,