In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen (بإسم الآب والإبن والروح القدس إلهٍ واحد آمين).
In the gospel lesson of St. Luke 2:22-40 we hear of the parents of Jesus bringing Him to the temple to be blessed because it was the custom of the Jewish faith. In verse 25, St. Luke spoke of the “consolation of Israel”, meaning the long wait of the Messiah (Jesus) is over, because He (Jesus) is here in the land of Israel. In verses 28-32, St. Luke tells us that St. Simeon takes Jesus in his arms and utters the words, “Lord, now let us thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word.” He said this because it was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he will not taste death (die) before he sees the child Jesus. It’s important to point out here in verses 29-32, we sing these words (St. Simeon’s prayer) in the evening prayers in the Orthodox church at vespers. Also included in this prayer are the words, “for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared in the presence of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to thy people, Israel.” Therefore, Jesus is the salvation that He (God) has prepared for all the people including the Gentiles, and Christ will bring them to the light (Christianity) and will glorify Israel. In verse 35, St. Luke makes reference to a sword piercing through the soul, implying that the Theotokos will suffer pain watching her son suffer nailed to the cross. Her suffering might be called, “synesthesia”, meaning one who feels the pain from the one suffering. Regarding the Theotokos suffering, verse 35, could correlate to John 19: 26-27, “Woman, behold your son!”, “Behold your mother!”. In verses 36-37, St. Luke mentions Anna the prophetess who was faithful to God and did not depart from the temple. Thus, she prepared herself to see our Lord Jesus Christ. Consequently, Christ shows Himself to everyone, as long as you don’t leave him. In verse 40, Jesus’s two natures again is revealed (divine and human), (Human nature) “and the child grew and became strong filled with wisdom (divine nature) “and the favor of God was upon Him.”
Wow! What a beautiful gospel lesson. Although all the gospel lessons are beautiful, I am very fond of this particular lesson, because we sing the joyful prayer of St. Simeon in the Orthodox evening prayers at Vespers. Moving on in this reflection, in my previous reflection, I spoke about not talking enough about Christmas. I also said, Great Lent is just around the corner (so to speak), because last Sunday was about Zacchaeus meeting the Lord. How about in verse 24 it mentions about two turtle doves (more Christmas Fa la la), hence the 12 days of Christmas where the two turtle doves came from this gospel lesson. Also, did you know from this lesson in verse 32 when St. Simeon says, “a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for the glory to thy people Israel”? This correlates to the lighting of our Christmas tree on December 25th for the glory of the Christ child. I now want to reflect about St. Simeon and Anna. Both were devout and loved God. St. Simeon was told by the Holy Spirit he would not taste death until he sees the child Jesus. Anna would not leave the temple until she also saw the child Jesus. In retrospect, about St. Simeon and Anna, what does our Lord seek and want here? For starters, we could say devotion, love, faithfulness, and let me add one more being- incompliance. Finally, as I mentioned in the gospel lesson of verse 37, as long as we do not leave Him and do not leave the church like Anna who stayed in the temple day and night, fasting and praying to meet the Lord. In today’s world, its very hard to accomplish this, but we can still pray and fast (I know this can be accomplished). I would like to reiterate this again by adding a few more words to the sentence: as long as we do not leave Him, and we continue to open our hearts to Him, He will continue to show Himself to us.