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2018 Greeting for the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple

February 2, 2018
The Meeting of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ

Rejoice, O Virgin Theotokos, full of grace, for from thee arose the Sun of justice, Christ our God, lighting those who are in darkness. Rejoice and be glad, O righteous elder, carrying in thine arms the Deliverer of our souls, Who granteth us Resurrection. (Troparion of the Feast)

Beloved in Christ,

I greet you on the solemn and joyous feast of the Meeting of Our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ! Today, the Lord Christ is brought up to the Temple in obedience to the law of God. As Saint Gregory Palamas notes, "Notice that the Creator and Lord of the law is completely obedient to the law. What does He achieve by this? He makes our nature obedient in all things to the Father, He completely heals us of its disobedience, and transforms the curse on it into a blessing." The Lord Christ assumes our human nature in order to heal and redeem it.

Recollection of these major feasts of the Church provides us great spiritual benefit. Our holy father Gregory Palamas draws our attention to the spiritual state of the prophetess Anna and the elder Simeon who were inspired by the Holy Spirit to greet the Savior in the Temple. Saint Gregory writes, "The Holy Spirit sent this dovelike pair into the Temple to meet Christ when He came, teaching us what sort of people those who receive Christ should be." Saint Gregory calls our attention to the spiritual qualities necessary for one to recognize Christ and greet Him: "For this Anna, Phanuel's widow, was both a widow and a prophetess. How was this possible? Because she renounced the worldly cares of everyday life and did not leave the Temple. She spent her days and nights in fasts, vigils, prayers, and psalmody, and her life was blameless. So it stands to reason that she recognized the Lord, whom she served by her actions, when He came."

So it is with us who desire to meet Christ. In Saint Paul's second letter to Timothy, Saint Paul reminds him, "You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier" (2 Timothy 2:3-4).

Saint Gregory Palamas concludes his sermon in words that are soul-benefitting to us:

We, whose bodies have become the temple of God through the Spirit, and in whom the Spirit dwells, must
be clean, or at least be in the process of being cleansed, and remain always undefiled, contenting ourselves
with permissible pleasures. We must make haste to attain purity and chastity and avoid fornication and
very uncleanness, in order to rejoice throughout all ages with the pure Bridegroom in the unsullied bridal
chambers. By the prayers of the ever-Virgin, most pure, all glorious Mother who bore Him in virginity for
our salvation, now and forever and unto ages of ages. Amen."

Yours in Christ,

Rt. Rev. Bishop THOMAS (Joseph)
Auxiliary Bishop, Diocese of Oakland, Charleston, and the Mid-Atlantic

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