SIMEON, THE PRIEST AND SIMEON, THE NIGER (Fr. Varghese Paul, SJ)

There are two characters in the New Testament of the Bible by the name Simeon: Simeon the priest and Simeon called Niger. Simeon the priest comes in Lukes Gospel while Simeon called Niger appears in the Acts of the Apostles. The name of a third Simeon is also mentioned in Lukes Gospel in the list of the ancestors of Jesus (Lk 3,30). But Mathews list of Jesus ancestors does not have the name of Simeon.

The Jewish religion requires that every first-born male child be presented to the Lord, in the Temple at Jerusalem forty days after birth. The book of Exodus says, Dedicate all the first-born males to me, for every first-born male Israelite and every first-born male animal belongs to me (Ex 13, 2). So according to the law given by Moses, the parents of Jesus, Joseph and Mary brought the child Jesus to the temple at Jerusalem.

At the same time Simeon, the priest inspired by the Spirit went into the Temple. Luke describes Simeon, the priest: At that time there was a men named Simeon living in Jerusalem. He was a good, God-fearing man and was waiting for Israel to be saved. The Holy Spirit was with him and had assured him that he would not die before he had seen the Lords promised Messiah. Led by the Spirit, Simeon went into the Temple (Lk 2, 25-27).

As Simeon acknowledges in his thanks-giving song God had revealed him that he would not die without seeing The Lords promised Messiah. Luke continues his narration of the event.

When the parents brought the child Jesus into the Temple to do for him what the Law required, Simeon took the child in his arms and gave thanks to God:

Now, Lord, you have kept your promise, and you may let your servant go in peace. With my own eyes I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples: A light to reveal your will to the Gentiles and bring glory to your people Israel (Lk 2, 27-32).

Simeons song known in Latin Nunc Dimittis has been part of the evening prayers of the Church for the past 1500 years.

Giving back the child to his parents, Simeon blessed them too while they were wondering about his words about the child.

Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother, This child is chosen by God for the destruction and the salvation of many in Israel. He will be a sign from God, which many people will speak against and so reveal their secret thoughts. And sorrow, like a sharp sword, will break your own heart (Lk 2, 34-35).

Bible scholars say that the blessing of Jesus Mother Mary was a prophesy about the anguish which Mother Mary would experience at the crucifixion of Jesus.

Then, Ronald Brownrigg says, Simeons reference to Jesus as a light for revelation to the gentiles May have been inspired by the suffering Servant songs of the second Isaiah.

The Christians believe that the delight which godly Simeon experienced in seeing and taking child Jesus in his hands, the believers would experience gazing the Lord at his Last Coming.

Simon, called Niger, was one of the prophets and teachers in the Church at Antioch. We get this information only from the Acts. There is no other reference to Simeon called Niger or the Black.

Lukes description shows Simeon called Niger was guided by the spirit and was a leader in the Church. Luke says in Acts, In the Church at Antioch there were some prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon (called the Black), Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the governor), and Saul. While they were serving the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said to them, Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul to do the work to which I have called them.

They fasted and prayed, placed their hands on them, and sent them off (Acts 13, 1-3).

અમારો સંપર્ક કરો

ફાધર વર્ગીસ પોલ, એસ.જે.
(ડિરેક્ટર, સી.આઈ.એસ.એસ.)


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