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Prologue from Ochrid - February 3 [February 16]

St Simeon the Host of God.

This Simeon was chosen, in the time of the Egyptian Pharaoh Ptolemy Philadelphus (285-246 B.C.), as one of the famous Seventy to whom was committed the task of translating the Bible from the Hebrew into Greek. Simeon worked conscientiously, but when, translating the Prophet Isaiah, he came to the prophecy: 'Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son', he was puzzled and took a knife to scratch out the word 'virgin' and substitute 'young woman', and thus translate it into Greek. But at that moment an angel of God appeared to him and held him back from his intention, explaining to him that the prophecy was true and rightly-expressed. And to confirm its veracity, the messenger from God said that he, Simeon, by the will of God, would not die until he had seen the Messiah born of a virgin. The righteous Simeon rejoiced at these heavenly tidings, left the prophecy unchanged and thanked God that He had found him worthy to live to see the Promised One. When the Christ Child was brought to the Temple in Jerusalem by the Virgin Mary, the Spirit of God revealed this to Simeon, who was now a very old man with snow-white hair. He went quickly to the Temple and found there both the Virgin and the Child, bathed in a light that shone round their heads like a halo. The joyful elder took Christ in his arms and prayed God to let him leave this world: 'Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart ... according to Thy word, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation.' Thither came also Anna the prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, who recognised the Messiah and made Him known to the people. Anna was then 84 years old. Soon after that, St Simeon departed this life. This righteous elder is venerated as the protector of young children.

The Holy Martyrs Adrian and Eubulus.

These two holy souls came from their home town, Baneas, in Caesarea of Cappadocia, to visit imprisoned Christians and to uphold and encourage them. They themselves were taken and condemned to death, Adrian being slain with the sword and Eubulus thrown to the wild beasts, in the year 309. And, thus with no trace of lament for this life, they entered with joy and honour into eternal life.

Reflection

How great a glory in heaven befitted St. Simeon the Receiver of God, who held the Savior of the world in his hands, which the following incident clearly shows as, related in the hagiography of St. Peter the Athonite (June 12). As a commander during a battle, Peter was enslaved, chained and cast into prison in the town of Samara on the shores of the Euphrates River. Languishing in prison for along time Peter, in tears, prayed to St. Nicholas to beseech God on his behalf to liberate him from prison, promising that he will completely dedicate himself to God. St. Nicholas appeared to him in a dream and told him that although he [St. Nicholas] prays to God on his behalf, God delays his deliverance because he [Peter] earlier made a similar vow to God and did not keep it. And further, St. Nicholas counseled Peter that he ought to pray to St. Simeon the God-receiver "who is very mighty before God and stands close to the Throne of God together with the All-Holy Virgin and St. John the Forerunner." Peter heeded the counsel of St. Nicholas and proceeded to pray to St. Simeon. Again St. Nicholas appeared to him, together with St. Simeon, not in a dream but in reality. Peter saw Simeon glorious in appearance, face glowing, and attired in the vestments of an Old Testament priest with a golden staff in his hand. St. Simeon said to Peter: "Do you want to fulfill the vow and become a monk?" To that, Peter replied: "Yes master, with God's help." Simeon then touched Peter's chains with his staff and the chains melted like wax. Opening the doors of the dungeon, the saint led Peter from prison.

Contemplation

To contemplate the Lord Jesus as the Cornerstone:

  1. As the Cornerstone in building personal character;
  2. As the Cornerstone in building the family and a nation;
  3. As the Cornerstone of every good intentioned social transformation and inspiration of mankind.

Homily

About the Spirit of God Who speaks through the Spirit-bearers

"Do not worry about how you are to speak --- but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you" (St. Matthew 10: 19-20).

These are the words of Him Who knows all and Who declared to the world knowledge which no one knew before His visit to mankind. If someone is filled with the Spirit of God, he does not speak from the spirit of man but the Spirit of God speaks from him and through him. He is only an instrument or a lyre of God's Spirit through which God the Spirit speaks. When that kind of man speaks, he speaks infallibly and no one can find falsehood in his speech except those, who because of the perversion of their minds, consider truth as falsehood. How men speak, filled with the Spirit of God, was clearly shown by the example of the prophets and more clearly shown by the example of the apostles. Miraculous and unbelievable did the words of the apostles seem to strangers, i.e., those who did not have the Spirit of God in themselves and who knew how to speak only of the earth, considered the apostles as intoxicated. In reality, to the ignorant, all those people who first began to speak about the hidden miracles of this physical world, about the power of steam, about magnetism, about electricity, about wireless telegraphy, and conversation at a distance [the telephone] appeared intoxicated and foolish. How then do spiritual men not seem intoxicated and foolish who, led by the Spirit of God, speak about countless hidden mysteries of the spiritual kingdom? Whoever humbles himself before God, God makes him powerful. The Spirit of God settles in a contrite heart and from there speaks through the mouth of man. This is confirmed not only on the prophets and apostles but also on the countless number of God's sons and daughters

O Good Lord, do not refuse us Your Holy Spirit.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

From The Prologue From Ochrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
© 1985 Lazarica Press, Birmingham UK