Continuing with the katavasiae of the Presentation
Ode vi. The Elder cried out * when with his own eyes * he clearly saw Your salvation, O Lord, * which is for all peoples,* "God from God are You, Christ my Savior." The life of St. Simeon the God-receiver is shrouded both by mystery and the Holy Spirit. We do not know exactly how old he was – different numbers can be found in different accounts – we simply know that he was old. Church tradition says that he was one of the translators of the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek somewhere late second century to early first century B.C., so he would be over a hundred by the time Christ was born. The Gospel reading this morning tells us that it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until the Messiah was born, so he was waiting for the fulfillment of this prophecy. As he saw the infant Jesus, he rejoiced in the salvation that was before him and in the faithfulness of God.
Ode vii. In the fire You refreshed with dew the three Youths as they theologized; * and You dwelt within the Virgin who was undefiled. * God the Logos, we hymn You, * and we chant devoutly, * saying, "Blessed are You, the God of our Fathers." We see the image of the three youths occur in many places in Orthodox hymnography. We saw this same image in the katavasiae of Christmas. I think one reason for its common use is as a reminder, when we lose track of the meaning, depth, importance, and paradox of the incarnation, that God is fire (we are also reminded of this in the pre-communion prayers) and that the miracle of the Word’s dwelling in the womb of the Theotokos should bring us to proper thanksgiving and praise of God.
With love in Christ,+Fr. Peter