On the 40th day after the nativity of Christ, Mary the Mother of God and Joseph brought the Divine Infant to the Temple in order to consecrate Him to God, for it was what had to be done with all the firstborns according to the Law of Moses, bearing in mind what the Lord had made for Israel in the land of Egypt. “Consecrate to Me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and beast; it is Mine” (Exodus 13:2).
Virgin Mary and Joseph followed the Law. They brought Jesus to the Temple as well as their sacrifice – two little pigeons. And as the Gospel of Luke says, there was a pious elder living in Jerusalem, to whom God once revealed that he would not die until he saw Christ of the Lord. Simeon was his name. And so, on inspiration from the Holy Spirit, Simeon came to the Temple and met there Virgin Mary with the Child on Her hands. At that moment, the elder understood that the Infant was the Savior of the world promised to him – Christ, the king of Israel. Simeon took the Child in his arms and pronounced the words that are well-known all over the Christian world, and that are used in the Church services up to now:
“Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel” (2:29-32).
Then the elder addressed to the Blessed Virgin herself: “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34-35).
Thus, already on the 40th day it was revealed to the Mother of God about the greatest destiny of her Son, about His great mission in Israel, as well as about the sorrows She would face in Her earthly life: She would face grief and pain, and She would suffer much while standing near the Cross of Her Son, Who would take the sin of the world.
How great is God’s mercy to the humankind! Incomprehensible and eternal God incarnated and became an Infant in order to live through the life we all live and to fill it with love and sense. Since that moment we know that the old times are over and the new times begin for us. Just like Pious Simeon, we, still old but already partially renewed in the Sacrament of the Water and Spirit, are looking with hope at the humble and beautiful face of Christ. Now, every time we are going to partake of Christ’s Supper in His Kingdom, we accept and keep inside ourselves the Messiah, the Son of God, the innocent Lamb, Who takes all our sins from us. Let us remember about this great honor, about the miracle of our meeting with God and let us be the sons of light so that we can testify about the true Light, enlightening any human being coming to this world.
The word of St. Theophan the Recluse:
What a tender scene the Meeting of the Lord shows us! The venerable elder Simeon, holding the infant God in his hands, on either side of him are the righteous Joseph and the Most Holy Mother of God. Not far away is the Prophetess Anna, an eighty-year-old faster and woman of prayer. Their eyes are all directed toward the Savior. Their attention is absorbed by Him and they drink in spiritual sweetness from Him, which feeds their souls. You can judge for yourself how blessed was the state of these souls!
However, brethren, we are called not only to think about this blessedness, but also to taste it in reality, for all are called to have and carry the Lord in themselves, and to disappear in Him with all the powers of their spirit. When we have reached that state, then our blessedness will be no lower than that of those who participated in the Meeting of the Lord. They were blessed who saw it; we shall be blessed who have not seen, but believed.
Reflections in the Church tradition:
Troparion — Tone 1
Rejoice, O Virgin Theotokos, full of grace! From you shone the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God. Enlightening those who sat in darkness! Rejoice, and be glad, O righteous elder; You accepted in your arms the Redeemer of our souls, Who grants us the Resurrection.
End of Part V
To be continued…