"Elder Holds Him That Stretched out the Earth Above the Waters": the Mystery of the Meeting with God
The Meeting of our Lord is an amazing and wonderful holiday. It is as remarkable as a genuine meeting of God and man, the Creator and His wayward creation, can be.
There was an old man who was really old. He had seen a lot in his lifetime. Perhaps, he had experienced a fair share of happiness but also plenty of grief, sorrows, and troubles. The Lord never abandoned that old man; on the contrary, He would always comfort and support him. Despite that, God delayed the greatest comfort and the greatest joy in the life of the holy elder whose name was Symeon—the comfort, which made it into the history of our salvation and which we remember at every Vespers service and after every Eucharist—until the man's last days. The holy elder devoted his simple life to persistent anticipation of this great God's gift.
According to the Gospel, the Lord had promised the righteous man that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ (Luke 2:26). The godly elder spent many years waiting for the miraculous encounter. Finally, he met the long-anticipated Messiah in the holy city of Jerusalem. The most holy Virgin and Saint Joseph the Betrothed brought Baby Jesus into the Temple of the Lord on the 40th day in keeping with the Mosaic Law: And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest (Leviticus 12:6).
The Holy Gospel tells us that the righteous elder was moved by God to go to the Temple that day.
And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
“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 lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.” And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. (Luke 2:27-33).
How amazing is that?! What a great encounter of a man advanced in years and worn out by hard work and afflictions, and God, who was looking at the old man with the clear eyes of an innocent baby! It wasn't just a meeting of Baby Jesus and the Righteous Symeon who had been waiting for the consolation of Israel (cf. Luke 2:25)—it was an encounter of the Eternal God and the aging humankind, burdened by wars and iniquities, exhausted from injustices and illnesses, lost in its human wisdom, and tired of looking for God, His truth and love.
The Good God visited Elder Symeon and the entire human race at last. Finally, the miraculous encounter of God the Savior and the dying Man occurred. The twinkling Star of Bethlehem, which only the select few had been able to see, gradually sheds Its gracious light upon Adam's descendants until It finally becomes an inextinguishable, all-penetrating, and ever-shining Sun of Righteousness that incinerates all sins.
The Orthodox Church prays on the day of the Meeting of our Lord, “Receive, O Symeon, Him whom Moses beheld in the gloom on Sinai giving the law, and Who hath become a babe submitting to the law; He is the One who speaketh through the law; He is the One spoken of by the prophets. Who for our sake has become incarnate and saveth man. Him let us worship!” (Sticheron on Lord I Have Cried, by Patriarch Herman).
Let us pray to our Lord Jesus Christ so that our encounter with Him would bring us joyful knowledge of God and help us to lead fruitful lives. Also, let's pray for those who are still seeking the Truth.