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 as a great feast one of the many events from the life of our Lord. We heard in the Gospel reading this morning about the event – when He was 40 days old, the parents of Jesus took Him to the Temple in Jerusalem to offer sacrifice according to the Law. As He does throughout His life, the Lord is fulfilling and completing the law in Himself, today through the actions of Mary and Joseph. Neither He nor His Holy Mother had any need for purification, yet they obeyed the Law nonetheless. In the course of the Gospel reading we are introduced to two very interesting figures, those of Symeon the God-Receiver and the Prophetess Anna. I’d like us to hear a bit more about these two people, who are very central today, when you look at how much of the Gospel reading is dedicated to them.

St. Symeon is called the God-Receiver because he received the Christ in his arms as the Lord came to the Temple. The Tradition tells us that Symeon was one of the translators of the Septuagint, which was the translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek. He translated the book of Isaiah, and when he read that a Virgin would conceive and have a son, he wanted to change it to read “a woman…” At that moment, an angel appeared, telling him that the word should remain “Virgin,” and prophesying that he would live to see the time when a virgin would bear the Christ. And so God made this promise to Symeon that he would not die until he saw the coming of the Messiah. This promise was fulfilled today, and at the end of his earthly life, St. Symeon gives us the beautiful hymn that we end each day with at Vespers: “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 2:34-35). St. Symeon also made one of the most well known prophesies about Jesus: “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 piece through your own soul also [he says to the Theotokos]), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34-35).

The Holy Prophetess Anna was an 84 year old widow, of whom very little is actually known. She had been married, but her husband had died only 7 years into their marriage. The description of her in the Gospel today was quite beautiful – she “did not leave the temple, but served God with fasting and prayers day and night” (Luke 2: 37). She saw the Messiah as He entered the Temple, and giving thanks, she then went to speak “of Him to all those who were looking for redemption in Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38). She was the first evangelist, the first bearer of the Good News that the Messiah had been born.

Symeon and Anna, together with John the Baptist, represent the last vestiges of the Old Covenant, the last of the Righteous ones before the coming of the Promised One. And today, the elderly Symeon and Anna have their lives fulfilled in seeing the coming of the Promised Messiah, the Holy One of Israel. So today, let’s celebrate this Feast of the Meeting of the Lord in the Temple, and also the lives of these two holy people of God, the Saints Symeon and Anna.

Happy Feast! Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!

Author Matthew Jackson