In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Christ is in our midst! He is and shall be! Today we celebrate one of the twelve major feasts of the Orthodox Church, which calls to remembrance the Meeting of the Lord in the Temple. There are many important things we could discuss about this feast, most notably, it’s one of the many times in Christ’s life when we see the Author of the Law subjecting Himself in obedience to the Law. But this morning I like us to focus on St. Symeon, and his role in this feast—his life before the Meeting, his Meeting of the Lord, and the words he speaks on this occasion of the Meeting of the Lord in the Temple. Much of what we have of the life of St. Symeon is passed down to us from the ancient tradition of the Church, both from the Scriptures and the hymnology and hagiography of the Church. In St. Luke’s Gospel we read, “[he] was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ” (Luke 2:25-26). St. Symeon was a holy man, the Holy Spirit was upon him, St. Luke said. And he was awaiting the Messiah. In fact, it had been revealed to him that he wouldn’t die until he had seen the Messiah, the Consolation of Israel. And the way God revealed that to him is an excellent place to go back and look at his life before we meet him in the Gospels. In the Tradition, the first place we see St. Symeon is in Egypt. St. Symeon is one of the seventy scholars called to Alexandria by Pharoh Ptolemy II to participate in the translation of the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek (Septuigent). The Septuigent is the Old Testament of the Orthodox Church, it’s considered to be an inspired rendering of the Old Testament into Greek, partly because of some miraculous events that took place during the translation process. St Simeon’s was translating the book of the Prophet Isaiah, when he read: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive in the womb, and shall bring forth a Son” (Is 7:14). He thought that “virgin” was inaccurate, and so he wanted to correct the text to read “woman.” And at that moment an angel appeared to him and held back his hand saying, “You shall see these words fulfilled. You shall not die until you behold Christ the Lord born of a pure and spotless Virgin.” [One of the miraculous events in the translation of the Septuigent is that when the 70 scholars come back together, they’ve rendered the same translation, including this passage in Isaiah that clearly prophecies the Virgin Birth of the Messiah.] From the moment of the angel’s prophecy to St. Symeon, he lived in expectation of the Promised Messiah. And as we hear in St. Luke’s Gospel, one day he received a revelation from the Holy Spirit, to go to the Temple. And when he sees the Theotokos and the Christ child coming into the Temple, the Spirit reveals to Symeon that this baby is the chosen one of Israel, the Messiah. St. Symeon then takes Christ in his arms and we hear the Hymn of St. Symeon, still sung every evening at Vespers in the Orthodox Church. “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 enlighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32). He knows that the prophecy revealed by the angel has been fulfilled. He has seen God’s salvation, come for the redemption of Israel and to enlighten the whole world, Jew and Gentile alike. St. Symeon then turns to the Mother of God and says, “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 your own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34-35). The Cross is revealed from the very beginning of the life of Christ. Here at 40 days old, we know from the mouth of St. Symeon that the work of Christ will be fought against, and many will be hurt by the work that God is preparing. And there’s a prophecy for the Theotokos as well—her soul will be pierced by a sword—a prophecy fulfilled when she stands at the foot of the Cross and watches both her Son and her God die. The pain she feels then we can’t comprehend, because not only does she lose her Son, but her relationship with God is that of a perfect Saint, yet she watches Him suffer and die. The life of St. Symeon’s is yet another testimony to the miraculous ways of the Lord. Christ enters the Temple and is identified as the Messiah (by both St. Symeon and the Prophetess Anna). And both of these people prophecy of the salvation for the world which is to come of this little child of 40 days old. And St. Symeon, a righteous man of great old age (the Tradition says he was 360 years old), is finally able to depart in peace. There is an ancient Christian saying [Number 46 in THE GREEK ANTHOLOGY] addressed to St Simeon, that tells the righteous Elder—receive the Child Who was born before Adam, and Who will deliver you from this life and bring you to eternal life. And may we also receive the Christ unto life eternal. Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!

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