It is a blessing that the month of February begins with the tenderest feast of the Lord. It is in this feast that the Child Jesus is brought to the temple by his mother Mary and Joseph his foster father, fulfilling the requirements of the Law (Lk. 2:22-38). This feast also presents us with the prayer of Simeon, that we sing every evening at Vespers: “Lord now let your servant depart in peace according to Your word…”
We can only imagine Simeon’s anticipation of the promise that he would see the Messiah, and then the awe of this old man as he received his Creator and Redeemer. This encounter between the Lord and Simeon was not like a subject kneeling before his king, nor of defeated soldier before his victorious adversary, but of this old man taking into his arms a tender newborn child that needed to be cared for and protected.
Simeon with love took Christ his King and Lord, and the Lord God Almighty, out of love, took on our mortality, our weaknesses, and failings: “He emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a Cross.”(Ph. 2:7-8)
We, like Simeon, are given this chance to encounter Christ. By the Grace of the Holy Spirit, our reception of the Lord is one of mercy and tenderness, not of fear and compulsion.
It is providential that this month starts with this feast, and ends with the beginning of the Great Fast. It is during this fast (and especially in its first week) that we focus on our relationship with Christ, resisting the spirits of sloth, despair, lust of power and idle talk, that howl like a gale around us. And for us see and participate in the (and our) holy Pascha and resurrection, we have to be like that blessed man, and hold on, and safeguard the Lord’s love, and mercy, as if we were holding a newborn in a tempest.