January 1st, 2017

THE SIXTH ORTHROS GOSPEL
The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Saint Luke (24:36-53).

At that time, after rising from the dead, Jesus Himself stood among His Disciples and said to them, “Peace be with you.” But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; handle Me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, He said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave Him a piece of broiled fish, and a honeycomb, and He took it and ate before them. Then He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about Me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high.” Then He led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up His hands He blessed them. While He blessed them, He parted from them, and was carried up into heaven. And they returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God. Amen.

THE EPISTLE
The reading from the Epistle of St. Paul Epistle to the Colossians. (2:8-12)

Brethren, see to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. For in Him the whole fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily, and you have come to fullness of life in Him, Who is the head of all rule and authority. In Him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of flesh in the circumcision of Christ; and you were buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, Who raised Him from the dead.

THE GOSPEL
The reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke. (2:20-21, 40-52)

And it came to pass that the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. And at the end of eight days, when He was circumcised, He was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb. And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was
upon Him. Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up according to custom; and when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing Him to be in the company they went a day’s journey, and they sought Him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances; and when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. After three days they found Him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; and all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. And when they saw Him they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why hast Thou treated us so? Behold, Thy father and I have been looking for Thee anxiously.” And Jesus said to them, “How is it that you sought Me? Did you not know that I must be in My Father’s house?” And they did not understand the saying which He spoke to them. And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and His mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man.

ORTHROS

RESURRECTIONAL APOLYTIKION IN TONE THREE
Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad, for the Lord hath done a mighty act with His own arm. He hath trampled down death by death, and become the first-born from the dead. He hath delivered us from the depths of Hades, granting the world the Great Mercy.

APOLYTIKION OF ST. BASIL THE GREAT IN TONE ONE
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
In all the earth that received thy sayings, thy melody did resound, O righteous father, through which thou didst go about and proclaim, as worthy of God, the nature of creatures, cultivating the character of mankind, O thou of kingly Priesthood, Basil. Wherefore, plead thou with Christ God to save our souls.

APOLYTIKION OF THE CIRCUMCISION OF CHRIST IN TONE ONE
Both now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.
Our human form hast Thou taken on Thyself without change, * O greatly-compassionate Master, though being God by nature; * fulfilling the Law, Thou willingly * receivest circumcision in the flesh,* that Thou mightest end the shadow and roll away * the veil of our sinful passions. * Glory be to Thy goodness unto us. * Glory be to Thy compassion. * Glory, O Word, to Thine inexpressible condescension.

At the Divine Liturgy

RESURRECTIONAL APOLYTIKION IN TONE THREE
Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad, for the Lord hath done a mighty act with His own arm. He hath trampled down death by death, and become the first-born from the dead. He hath delivered us from the depths of Hades, granting the world the Great Mercy.

APOLYTIKION OF THE CIRCUMCISION OF CHRIST IN TONE ONE
Our human form hast Thou taken on Thyself without change, * O greatly-compassionate Master, though being God by nature; * fulfilling the Law, Thou willingly * receivest circumcision in the flesh,* that Thou mightest end the shadow and roll away * the veil of our sinful passions. * Glory be to Thy goodness unto us. * Glory be to Thy compassion. * Glory, O Word, to Thine inexpressible condescension.

APOLYTIKION OF ST. BASIL THE GREAT IN TONE ONE
In all the earth that received thy sayings, thy melody did resound, O righteous father, through which thou didst go about and proclaim, as worthy of God, the nature of creatures, cultivating the character of mankind, O thou of kingly Priesthood, Basil. Wherefore, plead thou with Christ God to save our souls.
The apolytikion of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos:
“Today the Virgin stands in the midst of the Church, and with choirs of Saints she invisibly prays to God for us. Angels and Bishops venerate Her, Apostles and prophets rejoice together, since for our sake she prays to the Eternal God!”

KONTAKION OF THE CIRCUMCISION OF CHRIST IN TONE THREE
Now the Lord of all that is * doth undergo circumcision, * in His goodness cutting off * the sins and failings of mortals. * He this day doth give salvation * unto the whole world; * and the hierarch and bright daystar of the Creator * now rejoiceth in the highest, * Basil the wise and * divine initiate of Christ.

Regarding the Gospel of Luke 2:20-21, 40-52

All Humanity is Circumcised in Jesus’ Circumcision.

Origen: So, when he died, we died with him, and when he rose, we rose with him. Likewise, we were also circumcised along with him. After his circumcision, we were cleansed by a solemn purification. Hence we have no need at all for a circumcision of the flesh. You should know that he was circumcised for our sake. Listen to Paul’s clear proclamation. He says, “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have come to fullness of life in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of flesh in the circumcision of Christ. And you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.” Therefore his death, his resurrection and his circumcision took place for our sake. Homilies on the Gospel of Luke 14.1

The Power in the Name of Jesus.
Origen: Christians are seen to draw their courage not from incantations but from the name of Jesus and from the commemoration of what he has done. For by his name it has happened very often that demons are put to flight from people, especially whenever they, who invoke them, pronounce them with the right disposition and with all trust. So great indeed is the power of the name of Jesus that sometimes it is efficacious even when spoken by the wicked. The name of Jesus heals the afflicted in mind, puts to flight the spirits of darkness, and to the sick is an ever present remedy. Against Celsus 1.6

The Last Days are Inaugurated.
Bede the Venerable: He therefore received in the flesh the circumcision decreed by the law, although he appeared in the flesh absolutely without any blemish of pollution. He who came in the likeness of sinful flesh-not in sinful flesh-did not turn away from the remedy by which sinful flesh was ordinarily made clean. Similarly, not because of necessity but for the sake of example, he also submitted to the water of baptism, by which he wanted the people of the new law of grace to be washed from the stain of sins….The reason “the child who was born to us, the son who was given to us,” received the name Jesus (that is, “Savior”) does not need explanation in order to be understood by us, but we need eager and vigilant zeal so that we too may be saved by sharing in his name. Indeed, we read how the angel interprets the name of Jesus: “He will save his people from their sins.” And without a doubt we believe and hope that the one who saves us from sins is not failing to save us also from the corruptions which happen because of sins, and from death itself, as the psalmist testifies when he says, “Who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases.” Indeed, with the pardoning of all of our iniquities, all our diseases will be completely healed when, with the appearance of the glory of the resurrection, our last enemy, death, will be destroyed…. We read that circumcision was done with knives made of rock, and the rock was Christ. And by Christ’s faith, hope and love the hearts of the good are purified not only in baptism but furthermore in every devout action. This daily circumcision of ours (that is, the continual cleansing of our heart) does not cease from always celebrating the sacrament of the eighth day. Homilies on the Gospels 1.11

The Eighth Day: Circumcision, Baptism and Resurrection.
St. Cyril of Alexandria: St. Paul says that “neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision.” On the eighth day Christ rose from the dead and gave us the spiritual circumcision. He then commanded the holy apostles, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” And we affirm that the spiritual circumcision takes place chiefly in holy baptism, when Christ makes us partakers of the Holy Spirit too. Of this Joshua, that Jesus of old, who became the leader of the Israelites after Moses, was also a type. He led the children of Israel across the Jordan, then made them stop and immediately circumcised them with knives of stone. So when we have crossed the Jordan, Christ circumcises us with the power of the Holy Spirit, not by purifying the flesh but rather by cutting off the defilement that is in our souls. On the eighth day, therefore, Christ was circumcised and, as I said, received his name. We were saved by him and through him, because “in him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of flesh in the circumcision of Christ. And you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him.” His death, therefore, was for our sake, as were also his resurrection and his circumcision. For he died, so that we who have died together with him in his dying to sin, would no longer live for sin. Thus if we have died together with him, we shall also live together with him. He is said to have died to sin, not because he had sinned, for he was without sin, neither was guile found on his lips, but because of our sin. Therefore, just as we died together with him when he died, so will we also rise together with him….After Jesus’ circumcision, the rite was abolished by the introduction of baptism, of which circumcision was a type. For this reason we are no longer circumcised. It seems to me that circumcision achieved three distinct ends. In the first place, it separated the descendants of Abraham by a sort of sign and seal and distinguished them from all other nations. Second, it prefigured in itself the grace and efficacy of divine baptism. Formerly a male who was circumcised was included among the people of God by virtue of that seal; nowadays, a person who is baptized and has formed in himself Christ the seal, becomes a member of God’s adopted family. Third, circumcision is the symbol of the faithful when they are established in grace, as they cut away and mortify the tumultuous rising of carnal pleasures and passions by the sharp surgery of faith and by ascetic labors. They do this not by cutting the body but by purifying the heart. They do this by being circumcised in the spirit and not in the letter. Their praise, as St. Paul testifies, needs not the sentence of any human tribunal, but depends upon the decree from above. Commentary on Luke, Homily 3

Jesus’ Humility Shows Us His Divinity.
Bede the Venerable: The Lord’s coming every year to Jerusalem for the Passover with his parents is an indication of his human humility. It is characteristic of human beings to gather to offer God the votive offerings of spiritual sacrifices, and by plentiful prayers and tears to dispose their Maker toward them. Therefore the Lord, born a human being among human beings, did what God, by divine inspiration through his angels, prescribed for human beings to do. He himself kept the law which he gave in order to show us, who are human beings pure and simple, that whatever God orders is to be observed in everything. Let us follow the path of his human way of life. If we take delight in looking upon the glory of his divinity, if we want to dwell in his eternal home in heaven all the days of our lives, it delights us to see the Lord’s will and to be shielded by his holy temple. And lest we be forever buffeted by the wind of wickedness, let us remember to frequent the house, the church of the present time, with the requisite offerings of pure petitions. Homilies on the Gospels 1.19

A Sign of Jesus’ Perfection.
Bede the Venerable: This we may here affirm: By the number seven, as by the number twelve (which is made up from the parts of the number seven multiplied by each other), the whole universe of things, events and their perfection is signified. Accordingly, that he may teach in what manner all places and times are to be employed, the divine Light of Christ rightly makes a beginning from the number twelve. Exposition of the Gospel of Luke 2.42

The Three Days Refer to the Resurrection.
St. Ambrose: The beginning of the Lord’s disputation is taken from his twelfth year. This number of the evangelists was intended for the preaching of the faith. Nor is it idly that, forgetful of his parents according to the flesh, he who according to the flesh assuredly was filled with the wisdom and grace of God is found after three days in the temple. It is a sign that he who was believed dead for our faith would rise again after three days from his triumphal passion and appear on his heavenly throne with divine honor. Exposition of the Gospel of Luke 2.63

Jesus Teaches Through Questions.
Origen: Because he was a small child, he is found “in the midst of teachers,” sanctifying and instructing them. Because he was a small child, he is found “in their midst,” not teaching them but “asking questions.” He did this because it is appropriate to his age, to teach us what befits boys, even if they are wise and learned. They should rather hear their teachers than want to teach them and not show off with a display of knowledge. He interrogated the teachers not to learn anything but to teach them by his questions. From one fountain of doctrine, there flow both wise questions and answers. It is part of the same wisdom to know what you should ask and what you should answer. It was right for the Savior first to become a master of learned interrogation. Later he would answer questions according to God’s reason and Word. Homilies on the Gospel of Luke 19.6

Mary Calls Joseph Jesus’ Father.
St. Ephrem the Syrian: If, from the fact that some are called brothers of our Lord, people think that these are sons of Mary, take note that he was called son of Joseph. Not only did Jews call him the son of Joseph, but also Mary called him Joseph’s son. For “I and your father have been seeking you with much anxiety.” If the angel commanded Joseph to take Mary into his care, this was to eliminate any suspicion from her slanderers, and especially so that he might protect her in case those who were scandalized in thinking that it was from the angel that she was pregnant might kill her. It was a great source of scandal to them that a virgin should give birth, because they were convinced that through her giving birth their city would be destroyed and that their kingdom, priesthood and prophecy would be abolished. It was for this reason too that they also killed the prophet Isaiah who announced these things, that a virgin would give birth to a child. Commentary on Tatian’s Diatessaron 2.7

In the Temple of His Father.
Origen: Surely Jesus was in the temple that Solomon had built. He confesses that it is the temple of his Father, whom he revealed to us, and whose Son he said he was. Homilies on the Gospel of Luke 18.5

Coeternal with the Father.
Bede the Venerable: Clearly the abode in the hearts of the elect of the holy Trinity, the nature of whose divinity is one and indivisible, cannot be disparate. Therefore, when he was sitting in the temple, the Lord said, “I must be about my Father’s business,” and this is a declaration of his power and glory which are co-eternal with God the Father’s. However, when he returned to Nazareth, he was subject to his parents, and this is an indication of his true humanity as well as an example of humility. He was subject to human beings in that human nature in which he is less than the Father. Hence he himself said, “I go to the Father because the Father is greater than I.” In that human nature, he was made a little less than the angels. In that other nature, however, in which he and the Father are one, and in virtue of which he does not go to the Father only now and then but is always in him, all things were made through him, and he is before all things. Homilies on the Gospels 1.19

Jesus and Joseph Show How the Greater is Subject to the Lesser.
Origen: Children, we should learn to be subject to our parents. The greater is subject to the lesser. Jesus understood that Joseph was greater than he in age, and therefore he gave him the honor due a parent. He gave an example to every son…. I think Joseph understood that Jesus, who was subject to him, was greater than he. He knew that the one subject to him was greater than he and, out of reverence, restrained his authority. So each one should realize that often a lesser man is put in charge of better men. Homilies on the Gospel of Luke 20.5

Mary Learns from Jesus as from God.
Bede the Venerable: Consider the most prudent woman Mary, mother of true Wisdom, as the pupil of her Son. For she learned from him, not as from a child or man but as from God. Yes, she dwelt in meditation on his words and actions. Nothing of what was said or done by him fell idly on her mind. As before, when she conceived the Word itself in her womb, so now does she hold within her his ways and words, cherishing them as it were in her heart. That which she now beholds in the present, she waits to have revealed with greater clarity in the future. This practice she followed as a rule and law through all her life. Exposition of the Gospel of Luke 2.51

Jesus’ Human Nature Instructed by His Divinity.
St. Jerome: How does he who is Wisdom receive understanding? “Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and grace before God and men.” This means not so much that the Son was instructed by the Father but that his human nature was instructed by his own divinity. There is the seer’s prophecy of him who blossomed from the root of Jesse, “The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding.” Homily on Psalm 15 (16).

Hypostatic Union Assures Proper Growth in Wisdom.
St. John of Damascus: He is said to have progressed in wisdom and age and grace, because he did increase in age and by this increase in age brought more into evidence the wisdom inherent in him further. By making what is ours altogether his own, he made his own the progress of people in wisdom and grace, as well as the fulfillment of the Father’s will, which is to say, people’s knowledge of God and their salvation. Now, those who say that he progressed in wisdom and grace in the sense of receiving an increase in these are saying that the union was not made from the first instant of the flesh’s existence. Neither are they holding the hypostatic union, but, misled by the empty-headed Nestorius, they are talking falsely of a relative union and simple indwelling, “understanding neither the things they say, nor whereof they affirm.” For, if from the first instant of its existence the flesh was truly united to God the Word-rather, had existence in him and identity of person with him-how did it not enjoy perfectly all wisdom and grace? It did not share the grace, and neither did it participate by grace in the things of the Word. Rather, because the human and divine things had become proper to the one Christ by the hypostatic union, then, since the same was at once God and man, it gushed forth with the grace and the wisdom and the fullness of all good things for the world. Orthodox Faith 3.22

Posted in 2017, Bulletin