Herb’s Blog, Herbdate 22969 – 1046
Here’s the haps:
As you wend your way to the temple, you find it hard to believe that the forty-four days of Mary’s purifying have passed already. You must go up to the temple to sacrifice. You have always loved the sacrificial rituals, even if you don’t love what the moneychangers have turned them into. You believe the laws were intended to be fair and just so that rich or poor could make a sacrifice to the Most High. Any and all could find the very best they had and bring it to be offered. Of course, the priest had to inspect it and if there were any blemish whatsoever in any of the offering you would have to exchange it for one that was whole. Wouldn’t it be convenient if there were someone on hand that would be able to readily exchange it for you? For a fee, of course. You didn’t expect someone to give you a perfect lamb, ram, dove, ox, whatever, in exchange for your imperfect one and not expect remuneration, did you? You speculate that in the beginning, it may have been a perfectly innocent exchange, but now there were moneychangers right in the middle of the very court itself with birds and oxen and sheep. You also know that a coincidentally large number of animals are turned away by the priests, forcing the people to have to exchange them for a good animal, which the changers just happen to have available. For a fee. Even though you could probably catch a couple of turtledoves or pigeons for the offering, you know that they could easily be found imperfect and need to be exchanged anyway. You will buy a sacrifice from them.
As you make your way into the Temple, a very old man begins shuffling your way. You have seen him here many times before but this time he is making his way directly toward your wife and the baby. You have always enjoyed the company of the old ones, especially when they were as honestly pious as you remember this man to be. You realize that you should be surprised at nothing any more but what happens next astounds you anyway. The man, Simeon, gently takes the child from Mary with surprisingly strong, sure hands for one so old and begins to speak. You have heard stories of how the prophets of old would speak and their voice would take on a divine power and quality but you have never heard someone prophesy. Now the hair on the back of your neck stands on end as you feel the same power you felt in the presence of the angel. He is talking about the salvation of all people, even light unto the Gentiles! He asks if he can bless you and you bow your heads and he lays his hands on your heads and prays for protection and wisdom and strength for you and comfort for Mary as he tells her that the child will be the rising and falling of many in Israel and a sword shall pierce her soul, also.
Just as he finishes his prayers, an old woman walks up. Old doesn’t even begin to describe her. This is Anna of the Temple. Everyone says she lives here and that all she does is fast and pray. You have seen her since you were a young boy and you believe this to be true. As Simeon ends his prayer, she begins giving thanks. She is called a prophetess and had been married seven years before becoming a widow and had been a widow for eighty-four years. She knows all those who are waiting for the Messiah and speaks to them about the child.
From the corner of your eye, you observe a hushed conversation between a scribe and one of Herod’s guardsmen. Over the years you have picked up an ability to read lips and you become nervous and almost start trembling as your heart speeds up. The guard is saying, “They are talking about Messiah being born. I think I should notify Herod. You know all he’s done to ensure he retains his power. If Messiah has come…” His voice trails off. The scribe laughs, “What? Them? I don’t think so. Look at them. Are those poor people there royalty? They are not of any high family and are keeping company with those two nuts that always hang around here. They are most likely some of the Anawin from the hill country. They keep the Law strictly and are pretty knowledgeable in it. They still believe in angels and that the Almighty would speak to any man of any class. They look for Messiah to come, but I highly doubt that he would be born to such a family. I hardly see a threat here, but if you wish to annoy Herod we can go report it…”
“Well, I see your point. It does seem pretty unlikely and I have heard of what Herod does when he is annoyed and this probably would annoy him. Besides, what threat is a baby?”
As they walk off you find your palms are sweating and your heart is racing and Mary is looking at you with concern. After the sacrifices are complete you go back to the little house you have been living in and you tell her what you have seen. Since she knows of Herod’s atrocities she understands your anxiety. The house is nice and there is a spot where you could make a real shop if you wanted to. Although the idea of moving back here is not appealing, you have to admit that you would be able to support Mary and little Jesus. You decide to stay a few more months so you will be able to have plenty of money when you go back to Nazareth if you decide to go back at all.