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Talking with Strangers

Listening to Luke’s Gospel (Luke 2:25-38) this morning in church I realized what a strange story the Presentation of Jesus really is.

Picture this. A young mother and her husband (young or old it really doesn’t matter) and their infant son, less than six weeks old, go to the temple. They are accosted by both Simeon and Anna. We act as if this is perfectly normal. Two old people come up to them and say crazy things. Simeon even grabs the child away from his mother to bless him. Simeon is described as just and devout and living in Jerusalem while Anna is homeless, spending all her time in the temple precincts. She must have looked like a scarecrow since she fasted all the time.

People were probably used to her sayings. Did they make any sense to them or did they just write her off, trying to avoid her when they came in? Did Simeon keep his revelations to himself or did he speak in the temple courtyards?

We typically avoid the homeless and people making pronouncements on the streets. We call them mentally ill, disturbed or just religious fanatics.

Would they have a word for me if I listened? Would I marvel like Mary and Joseph or would I be in a hurry to leave them behind? Prudence would suggest removing myself from any situation, especially when physical contact was involved.

Does God still speak in this way to us?

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