St. Symeon beholds his Lord and God, Jesus Christ

And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (As it is written in the law of the LORD, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons. And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spoke of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. ~Luke 2: 22-38

Rejoice, thou who art full of grace, O Virgin Theotokos, for from thee hath risen the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, enlightening those in darkness. Rejoice, thou also, O righteous Elder, as thou receivest in thine arms the Redeemer of our souls, Who also granteth unto us the Resurrection. ~Festal Troparion

Tomorrow, February 2/15, is the feast of the Meeting of the Lord in the Temple. During the reading of the Hours we often hear this phrase that St. Symeon speaks: “A light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel.” There are few single sentences in Scripture that embody Christ’s salvific mission as well as this one.

Slava Tebye, Gospodi, slava Tebye! Charite, kecharitomene, O Panagia Theotokos!

Forty days after Christ was born he was presented to God in the Jerusalem Temple according to the Mosaic Law. At this time as well his mother Mary underwent the ritual purification and offered the sacrifices as prescribed in the Law. Thus, forty days after Christmas, on the second of February, the Church celebrates the feast of the presentation called the Meeting (or Presentation or Reception) of the Lord.

The meeting of Christ by the elder Simeon and the prophetess Anna (Lk 2:22-36) is the main event of the feast of Christ’s presentation in the Temple. It was “revealed to Simeon by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ” (Lk 2:26) and, inspired by the same Spirit, he came to the Temple where he met the new-born Messiah, took him in his arms and said the words which are now chanted each evening at the end of the Orthodox Vesper service:

Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word; for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation which Thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for the revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to Thy people Israel (Lk 2:29-32).

At this time as well Simeon predicted that Jesus would be the “sign which is spoken against” and that he would cause “the fall and the rising of many in Israel.” He also foretold Mary’s sufferings because of her son (Luke 22:34-35). Anna also was present and, giving thanks to God “she spoke of Jesus to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem” (Lk 2:38).

In the service of the feast of the Meeting of the Lord, the fact emphasized is that Christ, the Son and Word of God through whom the world was created, now is held as an infant in Simeon’s hands; this same Son of God, the Giver of the Law, now himself fulfills the Law, carried in arms as a human child.

Receive him, 0 Simeon, whom Moses on Mount Sinai beheld in the darkness as the Giver of the Law. Receive him as a babe now obeying the Law. For he it is of whom the Law and the Prophets have spoken, incarnate for our sake and saving mankind. Come let us adore him!

Let the door of heaven open today, for the Eternal Word of the Father, without giving up his divinity, has been incarnate of the Virgin in time. And as a babe of forty days he is voluntarily brought by his mother to the Temple, according to the Law. And the elder Simeon takes him in his arms and cries out: Lord now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, 0 Lord, who has come to save the human race — glory to Thee! (Vesper Verses of the Feast).