My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
THE HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH SPEAK ON
THE MEETING OF THE LORD IN THE TEMPLE.
APOLYTIKION OF THE FEAST, Mode 1.
Lady full of grace, rejoice, O Virgin Theotokos, for Christ God,
the Sun of Righteousness has risen from you and He
illumined those in darkness. And You, righteous Elder, be glad
in heart, receiving in your embrace the One Who liberates our
souls and bestows on us the Resurrection.
Idiomelon. Mode pl. 2.
Let the gate of heaven open today. For the Father’s beginningless Logos/Word, having
taken a beginning in time and not separated from His Divinity, is willingly offered as a
forty-day-old Infant, in the Temple of the Law, by His virgin Mother. And the Elder
receives Him in his arms. "Let me depart," cries the servant to the Master. For my eyes
have seen Your salvation." O Lord, Who came to the world to save thy human race,
glory to Thee!
The Venerable Bede (673-735 A.D.) writes: "Now the law commanded that a woman who had conceived and brought forth a male child shall be unclean for seven days, and on the eighth day the infant was to be circumcised [Leviticus 12:2-3]. And for another thirty-three days she was to abstain from entry into the temple [Leviticus 12:4] and marital relations, until, on the fourteenth day after the birth, she was to bring her son with sacrificial offerings to the temple of the Lord [Leviticus 12:6]. The firstborn of all the male sex was to be called holy to the Lord. The Virgin did not receive seed, but even as our Lord willed to be under the law so that He might redeem us [Galatians 4:4-5], so too did the Blessed Mother, who by a singular privilege was above the law; nevertheless, she did not shun being made subject to the principles of the law for the sake of showing us an example of humility."
Why was it written in the law of God that there should be a presentation of "a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons" [Luke 2:24; cf. Leviticus 5:11, 12:8]? Saint Ambrose informs us that "this is the true sacrifice of Christ: CHASTITY OF BODY AND GRACE OF THE SPIRIT. Chastity belongs to the turtledove; grace, to the pigeon. It is related that the turtledove when widowed by the loss of its consort, does not seek another, but is utterly weary of the bridal bed and even of the world itself."
Saint Kyril of Alexandria (444 A.D.) writes: "What does the turtledove signify? And what, too, the other, the pigeon? The one is the most noisy of the birds of the field, but the other is a mild gentle creature. And such did the Savior of all become toward us, showing the most perfect gentleness, and like a turtledove, moreover, soothing the world, and filling His own vineyard, even us tho believe in Him, with the sweet sound of His voice. For it is written in the Song of Songs, ‘The voice of the turtledove hath been heard in our land’ [Song 2:12]. For Christ has spoken to us the Divine message of the Gospel, which is for the salvation of the whole world."
Thus we chant in the Canon to the Akathist: "Rejoice, O Ever-virgin, the Dove
that gave birth to the compassionate One." Saint Kosmas (7th-8th Century)
characterizes Mary as a dove and says, "The pure Dove, the Ewe without
blemish, brings the Lamb and Shepherd into the temple."
Saint John of Damascus (676-750 A.D.) writes that "He Who is
without beginning, the Logos/Word of the Father has made a
beginning in time without forsaking His Divinity; and as a Babe
forty days old He is, of His own will, brought by the Virgin, His
Mother, as an Offering in the Temple of the law."
Saint Andrew of Crete speaks of the symbolic meaning of the pair of
doves offered on this day. "He Who is borne on high by the cherubim
and praised in hymns by the seraphim, is brought today, according to
the law, into the holy Temple and rests in the arms of the elder as on a
throne. From Joseph he receives gifts fitting for God: a pair of doves,
symbol of the spotless Church and of the newly-chosen people of the
nations", whereas, the two young pigeons show Him as the Originator
of the two Covenants, both Old and New.
Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic  writes that the elderly Symeon beheld
both the Child and His Mother bathed in Light that shone around their heads
like a halo. The Virgin, carrying Jesus in her arms, was rejoicing over Him.
Apocryphal sources write that Symeon was filled with the greatest pleasure
at the sight of Angels praising Him, standing in a circle, like bodyguards
standing by the King.
Saint Romanos also makes mention of this, chanting, "While the Angels
sang hymns to the Lover of man, Mary advanced, holding Him in her arms.
The righteous man was then "constrained by joy and fear; for, with the eyes
of the spirit, he beheld the ranks of Archangels and of Angels standing erect
with reverence and glorifying Christ. He then prayed earnestly within
himself and cried, ‘Guard me and do not let the fire of Thy Divinity harm me,
Thou, the Only Friend of man."
Saint Ephraim points out in his Homily on Our Lord that the Infant Christ
was actually presenting the priest to His Father and not the priest
presenting Him. "Symeon the priest, when he took Him up in his arms to
present Him before God, understood as he saw Him that he was not
presenting Hi, but as being himself presented. For the Son was not
presented by the servant to His Father, but the servant was presented
by the Son to his Lord. For it is not possible that He, by Whom every
offering is presented, should be presented by another; so that He Who
receives offerings gave Himself to be offered by another, that those who
presented Hi, might themselves be presented by Him."
Saint Gregory of Nyssa comments that "He is called the ‘salvation that is
prepared before the face of all peoples’; but likewise ‘the fall and the
resurrection of many.’ The Divine wish is the salvation and the sanctification
of each person. Their fall or resurrection is within the will of each person,
both of them thus believe and them that disbelieve."
Saint John Chrysostom speaks saying, "For whose fall? Without doubt
those who believe not, and those that placed the Innocent upon the Cross.
For whose resurrection? Those who give thanks; those who turnt to Him
with a grateful heart."
Saint Basil adds that ‘the Cross in Scripture is called A SIGN OF CONTRADICTION.
For Moses, it says [Numbers 21:9], made s brazen serpent an set it up for a sign. For
it is a sign of a wondrous, yet hidden thing–seen by the simple, but understood only
by those whose minds are prepared."
As we know, at that time, the Jews were awaiting, in the person of the Messiah, an awesome king and conqueror, who could subdue all rulers and all thrones to the throne of David, and found a great messianic kingdom, in which the Jews, as the direct descendants of Abraham, would occupy the first place and rule over all. As far as the pagans were concerned, the Jews thought tha such persons were not to have any right to this kingdom of the glorious Messiah. When Christ had appeared on the earth, these false messianic hopes of the Jewish people had reached their highest degree of intencity, despise the fact tha the traits and cource of the true Messiah are depicted completely different in the Old Testament [cf. Isaiah 53:3-4]. The death of Christ the Savior on the Cross would be a stumbling block [1 Corinthians 1:23], which caused all those Jews to stumble who were infected by false messianic expectations and narrow nationalistic exclusiveness and aims.
Saint Theophylactos adds that "as He showed forth the wisdom of the Logos/Word of God. He did not become wise by the process of time–away with the thought! Little by little He showed forth the implanted wisdom. In conformity with His bodily stature it is said He was growing and showing Himseff strong in the spirit. If He showed forth all His wisdom while small in age, He would have been thought a prodigy… Thus,little by little, He laid bare His wisdom."
In the Holy Orthodox Church this Festival appears to have been observed in Jerusalem since the 4th century, and the iconography associated with the Feast developed from the 5th century onwards. This Feast of the Theotokos was brought to Constantinople by Emperor Justinian in 542 A.D. It has sisnce been numbered among the Master’s Feasts, though it is treated in liturgical offices as a Feast of teh Theotokos.
Should the Feast fall on the Lord’s Day, that is, Sunday, still the service of the Resurrection would be conducted with it. Should it falln a fast day, a dispensation to patake of fish is given. [Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church]
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servaant of God