Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
The Prologue from Ohrid
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1. THE MEETING [PRESENTATION] OF OUR LORD IN THE TEMPLE
The fortieth day after His birth, the All-Holy Virgin brought her Divine Son into the Temple of Jerusalem, in accordance with the Law, to dedicate Him to God and to purify herself. "Consecrate to me every first-born that opens the womb among the Israelites both of man and beast, for it belongs to me" (Exodus 13:2). "Tell the Israelites: when a woman has conceived and gives birth to a boy, she shall be unclean for seven days, with the same uncleanness as at her menstrual period. On the eighth day, the flesh of the boy's foreskin shall be circumcised, and then she shall spend thirty-three days more in becoming purified of her blood; she shall not touch anything sacred nor enter the sanctuary till the days of her purification are fulfilled. If she gives birth to a girl, for fourteen days she shall be as unclean as at her menstruation, after which she shall spend sixty-six days in becoming purified of her blood. When the days of her purification for a son or for a daughter are fulfilled, she shall bring to the priest at the entrance of the meeting tent a yearling lamb for a holocaust and a pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering. The priest shall offer them up before the Lord to make atonement for her, and thus she will be clean again after her flow of blood. Such is the law for the woman who gives birth to a boy or a girl child" (Leviticus 12:2-7). Even though neither the one nor the other was necessary, nevertheless the Lawgiver did not, in anyway, want to transgress His own Law whom He had given through Moses, His servant and prophet. At that time, the high-priest Zaccharias, the father of John the Forerunner [Precursor], was on duty in the Temple["serving as a priest before God in the order of his division" St. Luke 1:8]. Zaccharias placed the Virgin, not in the temple area reserved for women but rather in the area reserved for virgins. On this occasion, two unusual persons appeared in the Temple: the Elder Simeon and Anna, the daughter of Phanuel. The righteous Simeon took the Messiah in his arms and said: "Now, Master, You may let Your servant go in peace, according to Your word, for my eyes have seen Your salvation" (St. Luke 2: 29-30). Simeon also spoke the following words about the Christ-child: "Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel" (St. Luke 2:34). Then Anna, who from her youth served God in the Temple by fasting and prayers, recognized the Messiah and glorified God and proclaimed to the inhabitants of Jerusalem about the coming of the long-awaited One. The Pharisees present in the Temple, who having seen and heard all, became angry with Zacharias because he placed the Virgin Mary in the area reserved for virgins and reported this to King Herod. Convinced that this is the new king about whom the Magi from the east spoke, Herod immediately sent his soldiers to kill Jesus. In the meantime the Holy Family had already left the city and set out for Egypt under the guidance of an angel of God. The Feast of the Meeting of our Lord in the Temple was celebrated from earliest times but the solemn celebration of this day was established in the year 544 A.D. during the reign of Emperor Justinian.
2. THE HOLY NEO-MARTYR JORDAN
Jordan, born in Trebizond, was a coppersmith by trade. Because he openly defended his faith in Christ and unmasked the faith of Islam, Jordan suffered at the hands of the Turks in 1650 A.D. at Galata in Constantinople. The monk Gabriel, a Canonarch of the Great Church in Constantinople [St. Sophia], suffered in the same manner in the year 1672 A.D.
HYMN OF PRAISE
SAINT SIMEON, THE GOD-RECEIVER
When winter encounters spring,
The aged Simeon was of good fortune:
Who, by the prophets, was foretold,
Him, the mine of all heavenly riches -
As naked, he [Simeon] the young child saw,
And in this manner, Simeon prophesied:
The evening has descended upon my life;
This One, lay down to conquer many
Or to raise many. Thus the spirit speaks -
The Prophecy of old was fulfilled:
Jesus became the measure and the standard,
The source of happiness, peace and joy,
But also the target of disputes and maliciousness.
One He uplifts, the other He overturns
And Paradise and Hades He opens to men.
Let everyone choose whatever their hearts speak,
In Paradise with Christ! Our heart desires.
Speaking about the spread and celebration of Christmas, St. John Chrysostom says: " Magnificent and noble trees when planted in the ground shortly attain great heights and become heavily laden with fruit; so it is with this day." So it is with the day of the Meeting of our Lord in the Temple. In the beginning this day was discussed among Christians but the solemn celebration began from the period of the great Emperor Justinian. During the reign of this emperor, a great pestilence afflicted the people in Constantinople and vicinity so that about five-thousand or more people died daily. At the same time a terrible earthquake occurred in Antioch. Seeing the weakness of man's ability to prevent these misfortunes the emperor, in consultation with the patriarch, ordered a period of fast and prayer throughout the entire empire. And, on the day of the Meeting [The Presentation] itself, arranged great processions throughout the towns and villages that the Lord might show compassion on His people. And truly, the Lord did show compassion; for the epidemic and earthquake ceased at once. This occurred in the year 544 A.D. Following this and from that time one, the Feast of the Presentation [Meeting] began to be celebrated as a major feast of the Lord. The tree, in time, grew and began to bring forth-abundant fruit.
To contemplate the Lord Jesus as Health:
1. As Health of our mind; for with Him we think healthily;
2. As Health of our heart; for with Him we feel healthy;
3. As the Health of our will; for with Him we act healthily;
4. As the Health of family, the Church, the school, the people and every institution.
About the guidance of the Spirit of God
"Filled with the HolySpirit, Jesus returnedfrom the Jordan andwas led by the Spiritinto the desert" (St. Luke 4:1).
You see, brethren, what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit of God. Without the Spirit of God, man is filled with worries: where he will go and how he will go. But with the Spirit of God man is without those worries. For then the Spirit instructs man where he will walk and how he will act and man becomes sinless in his movement and in his actions because the Holy Spirit is sinless Who leads and guides him. Man cannot walk justly nor act righteously if the All-omnipotent and All-omniscient Spirit of God does not inform him. Whoever is not led by the Holy Spirit of God is led, either by his own individual spirit or by the evil spirit of the demon. As a result of this he becomes helpless, bitter, remorseful, angry and despondent. We cannot endure the Spirit of God in the fullness as Christ the Lord, but we can receive the Spirit of God as much as needed in order to know where, what and how. According to the purity of the heart, the Holy Spirit settles in the heart and from the heart directs man.
That is why the Church often repeats this prayer to the Holy Spirit: "O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth! Come and abide in us."
O God, the Holy Spirit,
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