The day after Great Feastdays, we celebrate some of the main people who participated in the event that we celebrate. For example, the day after Christmas, when Jesus Christ was born, we celebrate the one who gave birth to Him - Virgin Mary. The day after Jesus was baptized, we remember the one who baptized Him - Saint John the Baptist. The coming Sunday happens to be the day after we celebrate the Meeting of the Lord in the Temple. It is a feast when 40-day old Jesus was brought into the Temple, as the Jewish Law required at that time. It the Temple He was met by Righteous Simeon and Anna the Prophetess. Therefore, we celebrate the memory of both Simeon and Anna on Sunday.
Righteous Simeon the God-Receiver was, according to the testimony of the holy Evangelist Luke, a just and devout man waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him (Luke 2:25). God promised him that he would not die until the promised Messiah, Christ the Lord, came into the world.
Ancient historians tell us that the Egyptian pharaoh Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285-247 B.C.) wished to include texts of Holy Scripture in the famous Library at Alexandria. He invited scholars from Jerusalem, and Simeon was one of the seventy scholars who came to Alexandria to translate the Holy Scriptures into Greek. The completed work was called “The Septuagint,” (from Greek this literally means "of the seventy"). [You can read more about the Septuagint here and here.]
Simeon was translating a book of the Prophet Isaiah, and read the words, “Behold, a virgin will conceive in the womb, and will give birth to a Son” (Isaiah 7:14). He thought that “virgin” was inaccurate, and he wanted to correct the text to read “woman.” At that moment an angel appeared to him and held back his hand saying, “You will see these words fulfilled. You will not die until you behold Christ the Lord born of a pure and spotless Virgin.”
From this day, Simeon lived in expectation of the Promised Messiah. One day, the righteous Elder received a revelation from the Holy Spirit, and came to the Temple. It was on the very day (the fortieth after the birth of Christ) when the most pure Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph had come to the Temple in order to perform the ritual prescribed by Jewish Law.
When Simeon beheld their arrival, the Holy Spirit revealed to him that the divine Child held by the Virgin Mary was the Promised Messiah, the Savior of the world. The Elder took the Child in his arms and said, “Lord, now You let Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word, for my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared before the face of all people, a light to enlighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel” (Luke 2:29-32).
There is a Christian epigram (Number 46) in “The Greek Anthology” which is addressed to Saint Simeon. It tells the righteous Elder to receive the Child Who was born before Adam, and Who will deliver Simeon from this life and bring him to eternal life.
Simeon blessed the most pure Virgin and Saint Joseph, and turning to Mary he said, “Behold, this Child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed - and a sword will pierce your own soul too” (Luke 2:34-35).
The holy Evangelist Luke continues: “There was also a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the Child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:36-38).
The holy righteous Simeon the God-Receiver died at a great age (Tradition says he was 360). His holy relics were transferred to Constantinople in the sixth century. His grave was seen by the Russian pilgrim Saint Anthony, the future Archbishop of Novgorod in 1200.
Simeon the Elder is filled with joy today,
receiving into his arms the Eternal God as an infant.
Begging to be released from the bonds of the flesh he cries,
“My eyes have seen the salvation,
which You have prepared for all the nations to see.”
Let the godly pair be praised together:
Simeon the Righteous and Anna the Prophetess, well-pleasing to God.
They became witnesses of the Incarnate Lord
when they saw Him as an infant,
and together they worshipped Him.