This is a Saint who strove for the truth, even unto death, and feared not the words of sinful men, forasmuch as he was founded upon a sure foundation.
Today, February 18, we celebrate the feast of Saint Simeon of Jerusalem (died 116), second bishop of Jerusalem, and martyr for the faith. Saint Simeon succeeded his brother, Saint James the Lesser, during the persecution of Christians in Jerusalem. He led the early church in that city for nearly 50 years until his martyrdom.
Simeon was the son of Cleophas, otherwise called Alpheus. His brothers included Saint James the Lesser, Saint Jude the Apostle, and another brother named Joseph. Alpheus, according to tradition, was Saint Joseph’s brother, making Saint Simeon the first cousin of Jesus.
53 When Jesus had finished these parables, he moved on from there. 54 Coming to his hometown, he began teaching the people in their synagogue, and they were amazed. “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers?” they asked. 55 “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simeon and Judas? 56 Aren’t all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” 57 And they took offense at him.
But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.”
58 And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith. (Matthew 13: 53-58)
1 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. (Acts, 13:1-3)
From these brief notations in the Scriptures, and from his lineage, we cannot doubt that Simeon was an early and zealous follower of Christ. He appears to have grown up in the family home in Nazareth, and was likely present during the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
According to tradition, Simeon’s brother was appointed the first Bishop of Jerusalem. The Pharisees, anxious regarding the growing Christian movement, decided to kill Saint James the Lesser. Upon their throwing him from the temple mount and stoning him, Saint Simeon boldly denounced them for murder. It was then, in the year 62 (29 years after the death of Jesus), that Saint Simeon was unanimously chosen as the second Bishop of Jerusalem. From this, historians assume that he was already living in Jerusalem, and likely assisting his brother with the governing of the early Church.
“After the martyrdom of James and the conquest of Jerusalem which immediately followed, it is said that those of the apostles and disciples of the Lord that were still living came together from all directions with those that were related to the Lord according to the flesh (for the majority of them also were still alive) to take counsel as to who was worthy to succeed James. They all with one consent pronounced Symeon, the son of Clopas, of whom the Gospel also makes mention; to be worthy of the episcopal throne of that parish. He was a cousin, as they say, of the Savior. For Hegesippus records that Clopas was a brother of Joseph.”
Saint Peter and Paul suffered martyrdom in Rome. Saint Simeon was warned in a dream that the Christians of Jerusalem were in great peril due to the upcoming destruction of the city, and as a result, the Saint led them from the city. The group of Christian Jews settled in a small city named Pella (across the Jordan River), and did not return until the Roman Emperor had burnt Jerusalem to the ground. Saint Simeon led his Church back to Jerusalem, setting amid the ruins
Within a few years, the Church flourished again, with many Jews converting and embracing the faith. Throughout this time, great persecutions were enacted against Christians by Emperors Vespasian and Domitian, but each time, Saint Simeon escaped detection. When Emperor Trajan renewed the same decree persecution, however, Saint Simeon was discovered and condemned to crucifixion.
Saint Simeon led the Church of Jerusalem through a stormy period of persecution, rebellion, and terror, all the while doing so with the calm fortitude of faith. He spoke out against injustice and sought peace in his city and his Church. Under Saint Simeon’s leadership, the early Church survived, and even managed to grow. The model of his life is one which inspires us to steadfast and joyous endurance of our difficulties, secure in the foundation of our faith.
ALMIGHTY GOD, mercifully look upon our infirmities : that whereas we are afflicted by the burden of our sins ; the glorious intercession of thy Martyr and Bishop blessed Simeon may be our succor and defense. Through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.
Year 2: Day 49 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Steadfast and Joyous endurance. For all who live in fear and war-stricken areas.
Requested Intentions: Financial freedom (J); Successful passing of occupational examination (S); Healing and conversion, sale of house (L); Occupational success for employee and colleagues (J); Employment for a son (C); Successful attainment of an important appointed position (J); Recovery from cancer for a friend (Z); For a family’s freedom from sin (M); For a daughter with Diabetes (A); Reconciliation of a marriage (D); Assistance with a legal matter, financial freedom (R); Healing for a friend (M); For a son in medical school (H); Financial assistance (M); Successful employment (N): Freedom from mental illness for a friend (L); For successful marriage (N); For friends having and recovering from surgery; for the reduction of a brain tumor (L); For resolution of a housing crisis (P); For a brother who is struggling financially, for a son who is struggling academically (B); For financial security for a friend (C); Success in business; familial happiness and health (J); Health and recovery of a sister (I); Healing of a father following stroke (S).
Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?
Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."
To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."
As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."