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Prologue from Ochrid - February 2 [February 15]

The Presentation of the Lord (the 'Meeting').

On the fortieth day after His birth, the most holy Virgin brought her divine Son to the Temple in Jerusalem, to consecrate Him to the Lord and to purify herself according to the Law (Lev. 12:2-7, Exod. 12:2). And though neither the one nor the other was necessary, nevertheless the Lawgiver would not in any way transgress the Law which He had given through His servant and prophet Moses. At that time Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, was serving his turn as high priest in the Temple. He stood the Virgin Mary in the place for maidens, not that for married women. On this occasion, there were two very special people present: the elder, Simeon, and Anna the daughter of Phanuel. The righteous elder took his Messiah up in his arms and said: 'Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation.' Simeon also spoke the following words of the Christ Child: 'Behold, this Child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel.' Then Anna, who had from her youth served God in the Temple in fasting and prayer, and who herself recognised the Messiah, praised the Lord and made known to the inhabitants of Jerusalem the coming of the awaited One. But the Pharisees, present in the Temple and seeing and hearing all that passed, and being vexed with Zacharias for having stood the Virgin Mary in the place for maidens, made this known to King Herod. Believing this to be the new King of whom the star-followers from the East had spoken, Herod quickly sent to have Jesus killed. But in the meantime the holy family had already escaped from the city and set out for Egypt, under the direction of an angel of God. This day has been celebrated from the very earliest times, but its solemn celebration dates from 544, in the time of the Emperor Justinian.

The Holy New Martyr Jordan.

Born in Trebizond, he was a coppersmith by profession. For his open defence of the Christian faith and his denunciation of the falsehood of Islam, he suffered at the hands of the Turks at Galata in Constantinople in 1650. A monk, Gabriel, a reader in the great church in Constantinople, suffered in the same way in 1676.

Reflection

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.

Contemplation

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.

Homily

About the guidance of the Spirit of God

"Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into 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,

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

From The Prologue From Ochrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
© 1985 Lazarica Press, Birmingham UK