This Child

From “Homily 2, On the Meeting of the Lord, 4-7” (ca. 375)

Do you see Anna’s greatness? In the presence of the Lord she addressed the crowd on his behalf and spoke about him while he was there. What a marvelous office! She was only a widow, but as she spoke to those who were present and made the Lord known, she provoked the high priests and the scribes to fury and roused all the people to new hope by proclaiming the saving presence of the Lord which was about to come upon Jerusalem.

Anna recognized the Lord in the little baby and in the gifts and offerings which were presented on his behalf and in the gifts and offerings which were presented on his behalf and in the gifts and offerings which were presented on his behalf and with him, and she was not disconcerted by his tender age. Anna confessed that this little baby was God, the healer, mighty Redeemer, and slayer of sins.

Do not dismiss as of little account the words that Anna spoke to those who were present, when she declared the deeds of the Lord and said to the assembled crowd,

“Do you see this little boy who is nursing at his mother’s breast, who is nestling in her bosom, who still does not have the strength to walk on the ground, who has been circumcised on the eighth day? Do you see this child? This is the one who laid the foundations of the world (Heb. 1:2), who stretched out the heavens like a vault, who spread the earth, who bounded the sea with a shore. This child brought the winds out of his storehouse (Ps. 135:7); this child opened the fountains of the great deep in the days of Noah (Gen. 7:12); this child has begotten the drops of dew (Job 38:28); this child gives snow like wool (Ps. 147:16).

“This child freed our ancestors from Egypt by the rod of Moses; this child divided the Red Sea and saved those who hoped in him by leading them through it, as through a flowering field, with dry feet; this child showered manna upon them in the desert and spread out before them a land flowing with milk and honey (Deut. 6:3); this child decreed that this temple should be raised high by our ancestors; this child swore an oath to Abraham, saying: “I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven and as the sand upon the seashore” (Gen. 22:17). Concerning this child the chorus of prophets bore witness when they prayed: “Stir up your strength, and come and save us” (Ps. 80:2).

“Do not be offended at this child because he is a child. This child is indeed an infant and at the very same time is with the Father, having no beginning. This child whose life is counted in years is also the one who is proclaimed to be without human genealogy. This infant who babbles is also the one who gives a mouth and wisdom (Luke 21:15). He is the one because of his birth from the virgin, he is the other because of his transcendent nature. “To us a child is born, to us a son is given” (Isa. 9:5). He is the one because he was born, he is the other because he was given — the first insofar as he is visible, the second insofar as the understanding can know.”

These are the prophecies of Anna, the finest words ever spoken by a woman, the teachings of a widow — and of a widow who changed her life for the better by dismissing men and admitting the Lord.

St. Amphilochius of Iconium (ca. 340-403) was a Cappadocian bishop and theologian, who was closely associated with the great Eastern doctors Basil and Gregory of Nazianzus. A strong defender of Nicene orthodoxy, his writings were highly influential, though most have been lost. Eight of his homilies survive, including “On the Meeting of the Lord,” the earliest surviving homily for the Feast of the Presentation. He is venerated on November 22 and 23.


Online Archives