Feast of the Great Prophet Jeremias (May 1)

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My beloved spiritual children in Our Risen Christ and Our Only True God and Savior,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN!

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ON MAY 1ST OUR HOLY ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHURCH COMMEMORATES THE FEAST OF THE GREAT PROPHET JEREMIAH

This Great Prophet of God, Jeremias, who loved his brethren and lamented for them greatly, who prayed much for the people and the Holy City, was the son of Helkias of the Tribe of Levi, from the city of Anathoth in the land of Benjamin. He was sanctified from his mother's womb, as the Lord Himself said concerning him: "Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee; I appointed thee a Prophet to the nations" (Jeremiah 1:5). He prophesied for 30 years, from 613 to 583 B. C. During the last captivity of the people in the reign of Sedekias, when only a few were left behind to cultivate the land, this Prophet remained with them by the permission of Nabuzardan, the captain of the guard under Nabuchodonosor. He wept and lamented inconsolably over the desolation of Jerusalem and the enslavement of his people. But even the few that remained behind transgressed again, and fearing the vengeance of the Chaldeans, they fled into Egypt, forcibly taking with them Jeremias and Baruch his disciple and scribe. There he prophesied concerning Egypt and other nations, and he was stoned to death in Taphnas by his own people about the year 583 B.C. since they would not endure to hear the truth of his words and his just rebukes. His book of prophecy is divided into fifty-one chapters and his book of lamentation into five; he is ranked second among the Great Prophets. His name means "Yah is exalted." (Source: Holy Transfiguration Monastery - Brookline, MA)

The Prophets of the Old Testament were God's messengers who proclaimed His will before the birth of Christ while pointing to the coming of the long-awaited Messiah. The Hebrew word for "prophet" means "God's spokesperson or a person who speaks in the name of God. One who proclaims the will of God and/or foretells the future, especially the coming and mission of Christ, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit (See Dt 18:18; Acts 28:25). In the book of Deuteronomy 18:18 we read, "I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brethren and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him."

The Holy Prophets are depicted in the ring of the dome of an Orthodox church to affirm that Christ, Who said He came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets (Saint Matthew 5:17), is the God of the Old and New Testaments. And just as the ring of the Prophets "upholds" the holy icon of Christ into the world, Our Lord Christ often quoted the Prophets, as He did when He affirmed the greatest commandments:

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets (St. Matthew 22:37-40); Deuteronomy 6:5; Leviticus 19:18).

The role of the Prophets in the Orthodox Church is most significant and they are mentioned over 150 times in the New Testament. The holy Apostle Philip told Nathaniel, "We have found Him Whom Moses in the Law, and also the prophets, wrote--Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." Following his conversion, holy Apostle Paul, himself "expounded and testified the Kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the Law of Moses, and out of the Prophets from morning till evening" (Acts 28:23). The chief of the Apostles, Saint Peter wrote in Second Letter, "that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before the holy Prophets, and of the commandment of us, the Apostles of the Lord and Savior" (2 Peter 3:1).

The Book of Prophecy

The fourth and final section of the Septuagint Old Testament includes the books of prophecy, which appear in an order different from the Hebrew and Vulgate collections.

Hosea gives a message of God's own redeeming love for His chosen people, even when they spurn Him and prostitute themselves to false gods.

Amos is the simple shepherd called by God to denounce a self-satisfied nation for its grave social injustice, abhorrent immorality and its shallow and meaningless piety.

Joel is the Prophet who foretells the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all flesh.

Obadiah prophesies the return of the exiles from Babylon.

Jonah unwillingly accepts God's commands to preach His mercy and forgiveness to a foreign nation.

Nahum prophesies the defeat of the powerful Assyrian enemy.

Habakkuk deals with the perennial question, "How long, O Lord, shall I cry out to You, and You will not hear me?"

Zephaniah prophesies the dark days of Judah's destruction but promises comfort and conciliation to those who wait patiently for the Lord and serve Him.

Haggai, following the return of the exiles, exhorts them to rebuild the destroyed temple in order to unify their disrupted religious life and, more importantly, to prepare for the coming long-awaited Messiah.

Zechariah prophesies the image of the messianic Prince of Peace, the Good Shepherd Who lay down His life for the flock.

Malachi exhorts God's people to faithfulness and asserts the fatherhood of God over all nations. He foretells that God will appoint a forerunner, similar to the ancient Prophet Elijah (or Elias) who will appear before the Messiah and prepare the world for the coming Day of the Lord.

Isaiah exhorts the people of God to place their confidence in the Lord and to lead private and public lives which manifest this reliance.  From Isaiah, we hear the prophecies of a Son to be born of a virgin, and of the Suffering Servant--the Messiah--Who would be led as an innocent sheep to the slaughter, and by whose stripes we would be healed.

Jeremiah severely criticizes God's people for abandoning the One True God and turning instead to the worship of idols.

Baruch was appointed to be read on feast days as a confession of sins. In Lamentations, the author Jeremiah mourns the destruction of the holy city of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. The Epistle of Jeremiah is addressed to those about to be carried off into exile in Babylon.

Ezekiel, the Prophet of the exiles, assures his hearers of the abiding presence of God amongst them, even in exile and servitude.

Finally, Daniel begins with the heroic story of Susanna and ends with the fascinating account of Bel and the Serpent.

These forty-nine (49) God-inspired Old Testament books divided into four sections--Books of the Law, of History, of Wisdom, and of Prophecy--which serve as an introduction of the world for the coming of the Messiah, Who is Isaiah's Suffering Servant, Zechariah's Prince of Peace, and the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the flock. (Source: The Orthodox Study Bible)

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

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With sincere agape in Our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George