When the Righteous Simeon takes the forty day old infant Jesus in his arms, he pronounces him the Christ: “A Light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of thy people Israel” (cf. Luke 2:29-32). With these words, we conclude our forty day celebration of God’s revelation to us in His Son: as Man, as Trinity, as Messiah. Each aspect of His manifestation is essential for us to understand who Jesus is and thereby understand what He has come into the world to do. Jesus is not revealed to us as prophet, or teacher or rabbi; rather as Saviour, God-with-Us, Emmanuel, the Son of God, the Anointed-one, that is, the Christ.
Simeon’s blessing, the song that we sing daily at Vespers, is a thanksgiving that God allowed him to live long enough to see that day, i.e. the Coming of the Lord. Yet it is also an ominous prophecy—a warning—that the child was “appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that would be opposed” (Luke 2:34).
God’s manifestation to us is at the same time both a joy and a warning. It is a joy because the prophecies of the Messiah’s coming have been fulfilled. It is a warning because the Messiah comes to set things right. And woe be to those who think they already are.
Our joy ends, therefore, on a somber note. It foreshadows the Cross and the pain of the Mother of God personally at her son’s crucifixion (Luke 2:35): Simeon could die in peace but Mary would follow her son to the Cross.
God has come in the flesh; this Jesus is God’s own Son, this is the Messiah, promised of old. We celebrate this trifold manifestation of Who He is. But now we look to the Cross; we await His Passion and His Resurrection. Only then will the purpose of His revealing to men be made clear, why He has come into the world.
Let us open our eyes to behold His purpose and like Simeon, bless God saying: “Mine eyes have seen thy salvation,” beholding Christ in our hearts, and in our lives, as the Elder did in his arms. — Fr. John