My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
THE MEETING OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST IN THE TEMPLE (February 2nd)
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. First Tone
Rejoice, thou who art full of grace, O Virgin Theotokos, for from thee hath risen the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, enlightening those in darkness. Rejoice, thou also, O righteous Elder, as thou receives in thine arms the Redeemer of our souls, Who also granteth unto us the Resurrection.
Kontakion. First Tone
Thou Who didst sanctify the Virgin's womb by Thy birth, and didst bless Symeon's hands as was meet, by anticipation hast even now saved us, O Christ God. But grant peace in the midst of wars unto Thy commonwealth, and strengthen the hierarchs whom Thou hast loved, O only Friend of man.
THE MEETING OF CHRIST (PART II)
It is a moving scene when Christ as an infant, as a baby, is offered to the Temple. The Pre-Eternal God Who, as the Logos/Word of God, has always been united with His Father and the Holy Spirit and simultaneously has directed the world, the entire universe, is presented to the Temple as an infant in the arms of His mother.
Although Christ was an infant, at the same time He was "God before the ages", and therefore He was wiser than anyone else. We know that human nature in the womb of the Theotokos was deified by the union of divine and human nature in the person of the Logs/Word, and therefore Christ's soul was enriched with the fullness of wisdom and knowledge. Yet this wisdom was expressed in accordance with His age, because if it had been otherwise, He would have appeared to be a freak (Saint John of Damaskos). Anyway, although Christ was an infant, nevertheless He was God, having all the fullness of Divinity bodily an all the human wisdom and knowledge by virtue of the hypostatic union of His Divine and human natures.
By means of this infancy He cured Adam's "infantile mind". When God formed Adam in Paradise, Adam was an infant as to grace and sanctification. He did have an illuminated nous, unshaped and an infant in spirit, because he had an infantile mind, he was easily deceived by the evil demon who awakened him to sin and evil. Therefore Christ, having the bodily age of an infant, cured not only Adam's infantile mind, but also his human nature and did what the first Adam failed to do. Thus, by the Incarnation of His Son, God the Father made the deification (theosis) of man more sure and effective. In Christ the devil could no longer deceive human nature, as he had done with ease in the first Adam.
The kenosis (the emptying), of self-humbling, of the Son and Logos/Word) of God, as is also seen in the case of His offering to the Temple, exceeded even the Angel's understanding, for they too were astonished at God's immense condescension. The Prophet Habakkuk prophesies the Incarnation of the Logos/Word of God: "God is coming from Teman, and the Holy One from Mt. Paran. His Majesty covers the heavens, and his glory fills the earth" (Habak. 3:3). The word for 'glory' means the incarnation and the Divine kenosis of the Logos/Word of God. 'Covered the heavens' means that it covered, blanketed even the height of the Angels, since even the Angels were astonished on seeing the immense and inexpressible condescension of the Logos/Word of God.
God has appointed that the offering of the first-born male should be accompanied by the offering of an unblemished lamb or a pair of turtle-doves or tow young pigeons. In Leviticus it says: "she shall bring to the priest a lamb of the first year as a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtle-dove as a sin offering, to the door or the tabernacle of meeting" (Leviticus 12:6). Saint Luke the Evangelist says that Christ's parents brought Him to the Temple "to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, 'a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons" (St. Luke 2:24).
Christ's parents did not offer a lamb as the law provided, because they were poor. The wealthy classes offered a year-old lamb, while the poorer classes offered a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons (Procopios). Christ really was born into a poor family and grew up as a poor man. In the end, Christ's poverty consisted not so much in the fact that He was born and lived in poverty, but rather that He became Incarnate and assumed human nature. As Saint Gregory the Theologian says, while He was rich, He became poor so that we might become rich with His Divinity.
The law provided that a pair of turtle-doves or two young pigeons be offered, because the turtle-doves signify the wisdom of the parents who were joined together according to the law of marriage, while the two young pigeons referred to the Panagia (All-Holy Mother of God) and Christ, because Christ was born of the Virgin and remained Virgin Himself to the end. Thus, while the former signified the honorable and blessed marriage, the latter symbolized the virginity of the Panagia and of Christ (Saint Gregory Palamas).
The offering of the Lord which the law provided was a figure of Christ. As Saint Cyril of Alexandria points out, "the turtle-dove is very loquacious among sparrows of the field, but the dove is gentle and meek." This symbolizes Christ, for Christ babbled like a pigeon to all the world and filled His own vineyard, that is, us who believe in Him, with His sweet voice, and like a dove He was meek to the utmost degree. Clearly then, this offering referred to the incarnation of the Merciful God.
One of the most important and central persons in the Meeting, apart, of course, from Christ and the Panagia, was Symeon, "the righteous and devout", who was granted to welcome Christ, to take Him in his arms and to recognize Him by the power and energy of the Holy Spirit. In fact he is a great personality both in that he saw Christ and in what he said at that moment.
The name Symeon corresponds to his life and expectation, but also to God's revelation to him, because in the Hebrew language the word Symeon is interpreted as obedience (Saint Nicetas) or as "whom the Lord heard" (Saint John Chrysostom).
The Evangelist Luke characterizes him as a man who lived in Jerusalem and was just and devout, "waiting for the consolation of Israel". At the same time he says that he had the Holy Spirit and that he had been informed that he would not die before he had seen the Lord's Christ (St. Luke 2:25-26). All these signs are characteristic of an inspired man. This is why Holy Scripture is not interested in man's origin and the elements of his human make-up, because he had another life, a life of the spirit.
Actually Saint Symeon the receiver of God, came to the sanctuary by the power and energy of the Holy Spirit. He had the Holy Spirit, in the Holy Spirit he received the information that he would see Christ before he died, and through the Holy Spirit he came to the sanctuary (St. Luke 2:25-27). This expresses the truth that one must have the Holy Spirit and be taught by Him. The Holy Spirit dos not reveal the mysteries to men who are unclean and did not have it previously...
No sooner had Saint Symeon received Christ in his embrace than he exclaimed: "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word, for my eyes have seen Thy salvation which Thou has prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of Thy people of Israel" (St. Luke 2:29-31). This is a magnificent expression, which the Church has taken over and placed at the end of the Vespers service, as well as in other services, such as the Thanksgiving after Holy Communion of the Holy Gifts...."
(To be continued)
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
Glory Be To GOD For All Things!
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God