The Feast of the Hypapante (the Meeting of Christ) or the Presentation of Christ in the Temple (Part I)

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.

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ON FEBRUARY 2ND OUR HOLY ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHURCH COMMEMORATES THE HOLY FEAST OF HYPAPANTE (THE MEETING OF CHRIST) OR PRESENTATION OF CHRIST IN THE TEMPLE

The Holy Gospel According to Saint Luke 2:28-35

"Then took [Symeon Jesus] up into his arms, and blessed God, and said, 'Lord, now lettest though thy servant depart in peace, according to your word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; to be a light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of thy people Israel.' And Joseph and his mother marveled at those things which were spoken of him. And Symeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, 'Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."

Synaxarion of the Monastery of the Theotokos Evergetis: 2 January

"Hail, favored one, virgin Theotokos, for from you Christ our God rose, enlightening those in darkness.  You too, righteous old man, be glad, having received in your arms the one who sets our souls free and grants us resurrection."

Saint Gregory of Corinth: Epigrams on the Twelve Feasts

"The aged priest Symeon, rejoicing holds now the babe. For the fire takes him from the Virgin's grasp and he is unburnt, and Symeon, shining with light, says: 'Behold, the redemption of the world comes; behold, the light shines upon those who are in shadow. This babe is the King of kings, and he will crush the gates of death, and draw out those who are in the bindings of Hades."

Commentary

The second of February celebrates three related events. The first is the Purification of the Virgin; Jewish law (Leviticus 12:2-8) mandated a period of forty (40) days for ritual purification following the birth of a male child. It was for this reason that it was included as one of the five Marian Great Feasts. Purified, the Virgin is now able to bring her son to the Temple, according to custom (see also Presentation of the Virgin); thus the second event: the Presentation of Christ in the Temple. Finally, at the Presentation occurred the meeting (Hypapante) between the Infant Christ and the old man, Symeon.

The Church appointed this great feast of the Lord and the Mother of God to be celebrated on the 2nd of February because it is the fortieth day after the 25th of December when the Nativity of Christ in the flesh is celebrated. In this way, the year is divided by the turning points in the Divine economy and blesses them. At the same time, it makes it possible for man to be initiated into the great mystery of the Incarnation of the Son and Logos/Word of God.

God Himself, that is to say, the Unincarnate Logos/Word of God, gave the Commandment of purification on the fortieth day to Moses and it has been established for the Israelites. This Commandment was given to Moses even before the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt before they crossed the Red Sea.

According to Saint Gregory Palamas, Christ had no need of purification, but since ritual purification was legislated in the Old Testament for both the parents and the children, He did it in order to obey the law which He Himself had given. Christ had no need of ritual purification because He was conceived without seed and given birth without loss of virginity. "There was certainly no need for purification, but it was an act of obedience." This obedience had the meaning of obedience to the law of God, but also of obedience of the New Adam, in contrast to the disobedience of the old Adam. And if the disobedience of the first Adam resulted in the fall and corruption, the obedience of the New Adam, Christ, brought disobedient human nature back to God and cured man of responsibility for the disobedience.

The bringing of the children in the Temple (church) on the fortieth (40) day was a feast of purification. The mother and child were to be cleansed of the results of the birth.

Certainly, the birth of children is a blessing of God, but it must be realized that the manner in which man gives birth is a fruit and result of the fall; it is the so-called coats of skin, which Adam wore after the fall and the loss of God's grace. It is in this light that we should see the words: 'Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me" (Psalm 50 [51], 5). Eventually, by dispensation God blessed this way in which man is born, but nevertheless, it is a fruit of the fall. Parents, as well as children, should be interpreted in this theological framework.

When we reflect on these theological truths, we can see that neither Christ nor the Panagia had need of purification. Conception without seed and birth without loss of virginity do not constitute impurity.

The Commandment which God gave to Moses said: "If a woman has conceived and borne a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days" (Lev. 12, 2). This passage shows the purity of the Panagia at once because the woman is unclean who is to give birth when she has been fertilized by a man. The Panagia, however, conceived by the Holy Spirit and not germinally, and therefore she was not unclean. This means that it did not apply in her case, but she went to the Temple in order to keep the law. (Source: The Feasts of the Lord.  An Introduction to the Twelve Feasts and Orthodox Christology by Metropolitan of Nafpaktos HIEROTHEOS)

(To be continued)

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"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!" -- Saint John Chrysostomos

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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George