A few years ago I visited Jerusalem and the ancient ruins of the temple that once stood in the time of Jesus. Jewish women were fervently praying with their daughters before the temple’s western wall. Ann and her daughter Mary prayed here too in this holy place long ago.
Tradition says that Ann and Joachim were closely connected to the temple of Jerusalem and may have lived near it or in a town close by. The picture above is a model of the temple from the time of Jesus at the Israel Museum. The Pool of Bethesda where the present church of St. Ann stands is to the right of the temple.
The temple was the temple of God, who dwelt on this holy mountain, the Prophet Isaiah said; all the peoples of the earth would stream toward it when the Messiah appeared. It was the center for prayer. Feasts were celebrated here through the year recalling God’s graciousness to his people. God’s ways were remembered here.
Jesus’ disciples were awe–struck by the majestic building as they looked at it from the Mount of Olives. They would see it as we see it in the picture above. Responding, Jesus spoke of himself as replacing it through the mysteries of his life, death and resurrection.
You met God here. The Jewish women fervently praying with their children before the ruins of the temple’s western wall were the successors of Ann and her daughter Mary who prayed here centuries ago.
How did they pray? They prayed the Jewish psalms. They prayed from the Jewish scriptures, remembering what they learned from them. God created the world and it was good. Evil also is at work in the world. There’s anger and violence in the world. Cain slew his brother Abel. There’s pride and jealousy and injustice in the world. Their own people became slaves in Egypt.
But God saves. God raises up the lowly; God works in unexpected ways. He raises up men and women, the poorest of them, to do great things. For God’s kingdom is to come, when God’s power and glory will be revealed to all peoples and all creation. Mary’s great prayer, the Magnificat, summarizes that belief in the God. She surely shared that prayer with her mother Ann.
“Nothing is impossible for God,” the angel said to her announcing the coming of Jesus. Mary believed that message.
We ask the grace to believe and to pray as these two women did. We ask for their daring, their realism, their great vision.