The Meeting of the Lord in the Temple is a rather simplistic feast. Christ is brought to the temple by the Mother of God and St Joseph the Betrothed in order to fulfill the Old Testament Law: “Consecrate to me all the first-born; whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel … is mine” (Exodus 13:2).
For that matter, everything which happens to Christ fulfills the Law; but because He is ultimately the Law, he abolishes it at the same time.
If our judgment and eternal life was based simply upon the Law, surely who would stand? Who would live? Someone had to die for our sins and suffer death. Christ accomplished this by his victorious death on the Cross;’ he liberates us from the punishment each person rightfully deserves. This festival, this Meeting, and certainly one of its central features, is that it is the initial step which eventually leads to the crucifixion and subsequent resurrection. It is, in many respects, the beginning of our salvation.
Along with our Lord Jesus Christ, the most central figure in the Meeting’s icon, is St Simeon who reveals the piety of the temple. We know little about Simeon aside from the fact he was elderly, he was in the temple, and he waited, patiently have been promised by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had “see the Lord’s Christ” (Luke 2:26). Each of us throughout our earthly life are no doubt able to identify a St Simeon, someone who is always in church, always waiting, always praying, always waiting with great devotion to receive the Son of God.
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Simeon was presented Christ and tenderly received him into the arms of his warm embrace, gently holding in his arms the eternal incarnate word of God. Having held our Lord, Simeon was then prepared to die.
He blessed God by saying, “Lord, now let us thou they servant depart in peace ….” (Luke 2:29-35). Simeon’s Prayer is sung at Vespers, and it expresses St Simeon’s gratitude for sending God’s gift to him and to all the world.
That we should all be able to offer these same words one day …
- Fr Marc Vranes