From “Gospel Sermon for the First Sunday after Christmas,” Church Postils (1544)
The name Simeon means “one who hears,” for the prophets had only heard of Christ… and if we contemplate the scriptures, indeed all the sayings of the prophets are so kind as to take Christ into their arms, so to speak, and declare with great joy, “This is indeed the man of whom we have spoken, and now our utterances concerning him have come to their goal in peace and joy”… All this Simeon here declares.
St. Paul writes of this in Romans 1 and 2, where he says that God promised the Gospels through his prophets…. Simeon had to be an aged man, so that he might completely and suitably represent the prophets of old. He does not take the child in his hands nor in his lap, but in his arms. There is a deeper meaning in this, but suffice it say now that the prophecies and passages of scripture do not keep Christ to themselves, but exhibit and offer him to everybody, just as we do with those things we carry in our arms… Simeon declares that Christ is the light and savior of the world, which also was declared by the prophets…
But when Simeon speaks of falling and rising, he shows how the world will respond to Christ… the world will oppose and persecute Christ with all its strength… Simeon also says to Mary, “A sword shall pierce your soul”… it means that Mary’s heart was to be filled with great sorrow and grief, although her body would not be tormented. Simeon’s expression means, “heart-rending sorrow” as in, “my heart is breaking”… Simeon’s blessing is not a worldy blessing, but looks forward to Christ’s passion.
Martin Luther (1483-1546) was a German priest and theologian, a seminal figure of the Protestant Reformation. His teaching about justification by faith, revealed in his study of the Pauline Epistles, became the core of Protestant teaching about salvation, and inspired a wide-reaching series of reform in Christian ministry, worship, and spiritual practice. His Church Postils are exegetical sermons on the liturgical pericopes, written to guide new preachers. Martin Luther is commemorated on February 18 on the calendars of several Lutheran and Anglican Churches. This translation of the text is from Luther’s Spirituality, trans and eds. Philip Krey, Peter Krey (New York: Paulist, 2007).