Word Magazine March 1960 Page 3
ST. SIMEON OF THE PRAYER
A Story From Holy Orthodox Tradition
By Fr. Michael J. Buben
According to the witness of Holy Scripture, the old Simeon was a man “just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Ghost was upon him.” (LUKE 2, 25). From God, Simeon had been foretold about the coming of the True Messiah. Ancient historians teach us the following about Saint Simeon.
The great and divinely inspired work of translating the Old Testament Books from the Hebrew to the Greek language was begun by Ptolemy Philadelphus, King of Egypt (Seventy-two (sometimes referred to as 70) Hebrew elders from the twelve tribes of Israel were selected for the work of translation. Each Hebrew elder was a teacher of Mosaic Law, a Scriptural Scholar, and proficient in both the Greek and Hebrew languages. These divinely inspired men brought forth the Septuagint version of the Old Testament. Among these scholars who translated the Books of the Old Testament into Greek on the island of Pharos, near the city of Alexandria was the elder Simeon.
While translating the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, Simeon came to the words; “Behold a Virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son” (Isaiah 7, 14). Reading them, he became confused, thinking that it was impossible for a Virgin without husband to give birth. Simeon took a knife and was ready to erase the word — Virgin — and substitute the word — wife. At this time an angel of God appeared, held Simeon’s hand and said:
“Have faith in the written word, and you yourself will see its fulfillment. You will not die until you yourself see the one who is to be born of a pure Virgin — the Lord Christ.”
With a strong belief in the prophetical words of the angel, Simeon impatiently waited the coming to earth of the Anointed One. For many, many years he led a righteous and immaculate life, avoiding all temptation and evil. Daily he prayed at the Temple that God would grant peace and mercy on His earth and save mankind from the all-vain Devil. His eyes gazed upon many infants who were brought to the Temple Forty Days after birth according to the Law of Moses (Exodus 13, 2). With all the infirmities of old age, and perhaps even a wish for release, Simeon continued to believe, and hope, and pray.
Forty Days after Christmas, Saints Mary and Joseph carried the Infant Jesus from Bethlehem to Jerusalem to present Him in thanksgiving at the Temple. When Simeon saw the Eternal Infant, he immediately recognized the predicted Messiah; and here at last stood She through whom the prophecy of Isaiah was accomplished. Seeing the Holy Family surrounded by a heavenly glow and crowned by a Godly light, Simeon with fear and joy came forth, received the God-Infant, and while carrying Him exclaimed: “Lord now lettest thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word; for mine eves have seen Thy Salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people: a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel.” (Luke 2, 29-32).
After this Simeon foretold the Passion of Christ, the Crucifixion, and the sorrow of the Theotokos seeing her Son on the Cross. (Luke 2, 34-35). He soon fell asleep in the Lord at an age likened to the patriarchs of the first biblical era. God had willed that he should live to the moment awaited for many ages — the birth of the Ageless Son from a Virgin to Whom be glory forever. Amen.
The first and Second Prosomia from the Einos in the Fourth Tone for Presentation (from Orthodox Prayer Book) (February 2).
“Verily, the Lover of mankind is offered today in the Temple, fulfilling the written law. And Simeon receiveth Him in his weak arms crying, “Now lettest Thou me depart to the bliss beyond; for I have beheld Thee today mantled in mortal flesh, O Thou Who rulest life and art Lord of death.”
“O Lord, Sun of justice, Thou hast appeared as a light for the revelation of the Gentiles, sitting on a bright cloud, fulfilling the law and revealing the beginning of the new grace. Wherefore, when Simeon beheld Thee he lifted his voice crying, Lettest Thou me depart from corruption; for I have today beheld Thee.”