“Accordingly, the Son came to the servant; not that the Son might be presented by the servant, but that by the Son the servant might present to his Lord Priesthood and Prophecy. For Priesthood and prophecy which were given through Moses, were handed down, both of them, and reached to Simon. For he was a pure vessel, who sanctified himself that he might be like Moses, capable for both of them. There are small vessels which are capable for great gifts. These are gifts for which one is capable, by reason of their grace; yet many are not capable, by reason of their greatness. … Priesthood continued on the hands of Simeon, because of his purification; and prophecy dwelt in operation upon his lips, because of revelations.” ~St. Ephraim the Syrian
The Son Came to the Servant
This is a phrase with great meaning. The Son came to the servant of God. He did not come to the one who denied God. Neither did he appear to the one who blasphemed against God. He didn’t even appear to those who create gods in their own image rather than learning of the true God. Only to the one who was willing to be a faithful servant of the True God did he appear.
He appeared to that servant to help train him and prepare him for the tasks ahead. The tasks of being priest and prophet for the real God, and not a spinner of tales about false, man-made gods.
Priest and Prophet
It must be noted that “priest and prophet” in the quote means something different than what it used to. To most people today, a priest is a servant of an officially approved church, and his purpose is to teach the doctrine of that church. He does not advise truth seekers where to look. Instead, these priests and ministers tell those that seek that seeking is unnecessary for he will tell them all they need to know.
The real priests and prophets do welcome seekers of truth. In fact, they encourage them. They encourage people to have an open mind and often provide training to help them get there. They do not tell people the truth, accept on a basic level, but instead teach the seekers to turn to the source of that truth, God. In short, they are spiritual teachers more than priests or ministers as those titles are used today.
It is clear that St. Ephraim is referring to the servant, Simion in this case, when he talks about the small vessels capable of great gifts. This can be interpreted in two ways. The true servant is capable of receiving great gifts, even if she is a poor and humble person, of no great status in the physical world. It can also mean that such servants, once inspired and enlightened, can give great gifts to other. Both interpretations are correct.
The true servant of God, though a small vessel, receive the gift of God’s Grace and the wisdom and truth known as Gnosis. They do that by seeking out truth rather than blindly accepting what they are told by priests or politicians. When their seeking gets them on the right path, they eventually reach that state of true enlightenment.
That small vessel is also a teacher to those who choose to listen. He teaches them how to awaken their spiritual faculties using the Light of the spiritual sun, as Moses did when he looked at the burning bush (an allegory for the spiritual sun).
Purification, Revelation, and Prophecy
Sometimes the small vessel reached a state of purification that he becomes a prophet. It is not everyone’s destiny, but it happens to a few. These prophets say reveal things that have come to them in visions or dreams. These revelations may be things that will happen in the future. They may be warnings of things that might happen if people don’t change their behavior. Sometimes, the prophet himself does not truly understand the meaning of the dreams or visions, but knows that he must share them. In other cases, the dreams and visions are aimed at developing the small vessel himself, and there is no need to share.