Kontakion in the Meeting of The Lord
Your birth sanctified a Virgin's womb and properly blessed the hands of Simeon. Having now come and saved us O Christ our God, give peace to Your commonwealth in troubled times and strengthen those in authority, whom You love, as only the loving One.
Glory to Jesus Christ!
Today we celebrate the feast of the Meeting of the Lord in the same spirit as we celebrate the Nativity and Epiphany. Nevertheless Meeting of the Lord is commemorated by the Holy Orthodox Church as the feast of Theotokos (Mother of God).
“Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord
(as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the LORD”). St. Luke 2:22-23
What is occurring in these verses of the Gospel sounds familiar – we also read a prayer over the mother that had a child before she enters the church. The child after the baptism is also presented to the church. But what makes it extraordinary, what is described in today’s Gospel reading according of St. Luke, is that Most Holy Theotokos, Pure Virgin Mary who needs no purification, is coming to the Temple bringing the Child Eternal God, present before the beginning of the World, and by His Birth, purified all.
As St. Andrew Archbishop of Crete says:
“This Virgin is the Theotokos, Mary, the Most Glorious of God, from Whose womb the Most Divine came forth in the flesh, and by Whom He Himself arranged a wondrous temple for Himself. She conceived without seed and gave birth without corruption, since Her Son was God, though also He was born in the flesh, without mingling and without travail”.
By doing so (coming to the Temple), the Most Holy Theotokos shows to us once more her absolute obedience to the law of God and humble acceptance of His will. As a chosen one, the Birthgiver of our Salvation, she incorporates within her all qualities of piety and purity. With understanding of whom she is holding in her arms, she willingly came to place herself and the Child, among the regular people. She came to place the child who is a new hope, a true light and salvation of the World. She did this for the people, and by doing so, showing God’s acceptance of human nature and human flesh.
When we are present in the church and attentive to the service, to everything that we sing and read, we then have a better understanding of the meaning behind, and the teaching of the Church regarding, the celebrated event. On this Holy Day everything is directed to concentrate our attention on Child Jesus, Most Holy Theotokos and Joseph. But also on other people, Simeon and Anna that were chosen by God to be part of His plan, guided by the Holy Spirit to meet The Savior of all nations in the Temple of Jerusalem.
“And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man 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”.
St. Luke 2:25-26
And we also read:
“Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day”.
St. Luke 2:36-37
Tomorrow as we commemorate St. Simeon the God-Receiver and the Prophetess Anna we may reflect in more detail about them. But today I would like to share with you some of my thoughts and feelings. In the Gospel certain qualities of both were revealed to us by St. Luke that greatly explain why they were chosen by God. Simeon and Anna met the Lord and saw Salvation of the people of Israel (People of God). I think about it each time we sing during the vespers the prayer of St. Simeon and after each Holy Liturgy as I take off my vestment and say the same prayer. I am thinking about that great blessing and unbelievable Grace of God that was granted to us in the form of the Holy Liturgy and Eucharist. We are able to receive and to become one with our Savior Jesus Christ, and not necessarily because we carry the same qualities of Simeon and Anna, but because of God’s unconditional love to us. For Simeon and Anna, the meeting of the Lord becomes the most important moment of their lives, since everything was dedicated to that absolute culmination. And today dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I wish to all of us to have that very same feeling, each time we meet our Lord and Savior through the mystery given to us, and culminating, in the Holy Liturgy. And those candles that we blessed today, holding in our hands, will symbolize not only the true light of God who is our Savior Jesus Christ but also the purity of our souls and our oneness with Him.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
Now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
Fr. Dmitri Belenki
St. Nicholas Orthodox Church