2/2/2007 9:20:37 AM

That day the Church commemorates an important event in the earthly life of our Lord Jesus Christ. Forty days after His birth, the God-Infant was taken to the Jerusalem Temple, the center of the nation's religious life. According to the Law of Moses, a woman who gave birth to a male child was forbidden to enter the Temple of God for forty days. At the end of this time the mother came to the Temple with the child, to offer a young lamb or pigeon to the Lord as a purification sacrifice. The Most Holy Virgin, the Mother of God, had no need of purification, since she had given birth to the Source of purity and sanctity without defilement. However, she humbly fulfilled the requirements of the Law.

At this time the righteous Elder Symeon (feastday on February 3rd) was living in Jerusalem. It had been revealed to him that he would not die until he should behold the promised Messiah. By inspiration from above, St. Symeon went to the Temple at the very moment when the Most Holy Theotokos and St. Joseph had brought the Infant Jesus to fulfill the Law.

The God-Receiver Symeon took the divine Child in his arms, and giving thanks to God, he spoke the words repeated by the Church each evening at Vespers: "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 enlighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel". Righteous Symeon said to the Most Holy Virgin: "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be spoken against. Yea, a sword shall pierce through your own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed".

The Feast of the Meeting of the Lord is among the most ancient feasts of the Christian Church. Despite its early origin, this Feast was not celebrated so splendidly until the sixth century.