The encounter of our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ with Simeon and Anna, celebrated 40 days after the Nativity of the Savior on Dec. 25, is one of the most ancient of all feasts established in Jerusalem in the 4th century. St. Sophronius of Jerusalem wrote about this feast: “Let us all hasten to meet (encounter) Christ. Everyone should be eager to join the procession and carry a light. Our lighted candles are a sign of the divine splendor of the One who comes to expel the dark shadows of evil and to make the whole universe radiant with the brilliance of his eternal Light.”
Rejoice, Theotokos, Virgin full of grace; for from you has shown forth the Sun of Justice, Christ our God enlightening those who are in darkness. Rejoice also, you just elder; you received in your arms the liberator of our souls, who grants us resurrection.
Christ our God, through Your birth You sanctified the virgin’s womb and blessed the hands of Simeon as was proper. Now You have come and saved us. Give peace to nations at war and strengthen our government. You, alone, love mankind.
Hebrews 7: 7-17
Brothers and sisters: it is indisputable that a lesser person is blessed by a greater. And whereas men subject to death receive tithes, scripture testifies that this man lives on. Levi, who receives tithes, was, so to speak, tithed in the person of his father, so he was still in his fathers loins when Melchizedek met Abraham.
If, then, perfection had been achieved through the levitical priesthood (on the basis of which the people received the law), what need would there have been to appoint a priest according to the order of Melchizedek, instead of choosing a priest according to the order of Aaron? When there is a change of priesthood, there is necessarily a change of law. Now he of whom these things are said was of a different tribe, none of whose members ever officiated at the altar. It is clear that our Lord rose from the tribe of Judah, regarding which Moses said nothing about priests. The matter is clearer still if another priest is appointed according to the likeness of Melchizedek: one who has become a priest, not in virtue of a law expressed in a commandment concerning physical descent, but in virtue of the power of a life which cannot be destroyed. Scripture testifies: “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”
Luke 2: 22-40
When the day came to purify the child and mother according to the law of Moses, Joseph and Mary brought Jesus up to Jerusalem so that he could be presented to the Lord, forward is written in the law of the Lord, “Every first-born male shall be consecrated to the Lord.” They came to offer and sacrifice “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons,” in accord with the dictate in the law of the Lord.
There lived in Jerusalem at the time a certain man named Simeon. He was just and pious, and awaited the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It was revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not experience death until he had seen the anointed of the Lord. He came to the temple now, inspired by the Spirit; and when the parents brought in the child’s Jesus to perform for him the customary ritual of the law, Simeon took the child in his arms and blessed God in these words: “Now, Master, you can dismiss your servant in peace; you have fulfilled your word. For my eyes have witnessed your saving deed displayed for all the peoples to see: A revealing light to the Gentiles, the glory of your people Israel.”
The child’s father and mother were marveling at what was being said about him. Simeon blessed him and said to Mary his mother: “This child is destined to be the downfall on the rise of many in Israel, a sign that will be opposed — and you yourself shall be pierced with a sword — so that the thoughts of many hearts may be laid bare.”
There was also a certain prophetess, Anna by name, daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher. She had seen many days, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage and then as a widow until she was 84. She was constantly in the temple, worshiping day and night in fasting and prayer. Coming on the scene at this moment, she gave thanks to God and talked about the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.
When the pair had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee and their own town of Nazareth the child grew in size and strength, filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.
1 John 1:8- 2:6
Dearly beloved: If we say, “We are free of the guilt of sin,” we deceive ourselves; the truth is not to be found in us. But if we acknowledge our sins, he who is just can be trusted to forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrong. If we say, “We have never sinned,” we make him a liar and his word finds no place in us.
My little ones, I am writing this to keep you from sin. But if anyone should sin, we have, in the presence of the Father, Jesus Christ, an intercessor who is just. He is an offering for our sins, and not for our sins only, bit for those of the whole world.
The way we can be sure of our knowledge of him is to keep his commandments. The man who claims, “I have known him,” without keeping his commandments is a liar; in such a one there is no truth. But whoever keeps his world truly has the love of God been made perfect in him. The way we can be sure we are in union with him is for the man who claims to abide in him to conduct himself just as he did.
Mark 13:31- 14:2
The Lord said to his disciples: “The heavens and the earth will pass away but my words will not pass. As to the exact hour, no one knows it, neither the angels in heaven nor even the Son, but only the Father. Be constantly on the watch! Stay awake! You do not know when the appointed time will come. It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his own task; and he orders the man at the gate to watch with a sharp eye. Look around you! You do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether at dusk, at midnight, when the cock crows, or at early dawn. Do not let him come suddenly and catch you asleep. What I say to you, I say to all; Be on guard!”
The feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread were to be observed in two days’ time, and therefore the chief priests and scribes began to look for a way to arrest Jesus by some trick and kill him. Yet they pointed out, “Not during the festival, or people may riot.”
Icon courtesy of Jack Figel, Eastern Christian Publications – ecpubs.com
Wednesday, February 1 –