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Παρασκευή, 21 Ιανουάριος 2022 20:26

f) Jesus Twelve Years Old in the Temple (Lk 2:41-52)


by Stergios N. Sakkos, University Professor


  It was the first time in 2:41-52 when Jesus revealed who he was, that God is his father. It is particularly interesting that already at the age of twelve Jesus identified himself as the Son of God. Then, during his public ministry, he gradually revealed his God-man nature through his preaching and signs. This passage also informs us where and how Jesus lived until the beginning of his public ministry, up to the age of thirty.

2,41. Καὶ ἐπορεύοντο οἱ γονεῖς αὐτοῦ κατ᾿ ἔτος εἰς Ἰερουσαλὴμ τῇ ἑορτῇ τοῦ πάσχα.
2:41 His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.

  The family environment in which Jesus was born and raised was distinguished for the reverent observance of their ancestors’ Judaic traditions. According to the law (see Ex 23:14-17; 34:23-24; Lev ch. 23; Deut 16:1-17), the pious Israelites visited the temple of Solomon every year on the three great feasts: Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. Later, due to the dispersion in various places this was not easy. The people of Palestine, however, tried to go to the temple at least once a year. The law required only men to attend the feasts (see Ex 34:23). However, any pious women who wished to go were also allowed to be there. Mary followed Joseph “every year”, to Jerusalem on the feast of the Passover.
  The distance from Nazareth to Jerusalem was quite significant. The journey, which was made on foot or by animal, took about three days. Many times, the Samaritans prevented the Jews from passing through their country or the Jews themselves avoided passing through Samaria. So, they had to cross the Perea in order to avoid Samaria. The journey became more tiring and time-consuming. But their desire to get to God’s temple and meet with other brethren, overcame all obstacles. On their ascent to Jerusalem, they sang the “Song of Ascents” (see Ps 120-134 (119-133).

2,42. Καὶ ὅτε ἐγένετο ἐτῶν δώδεκα, ἀναβάντων αὐτῶν εἰς Ἰεροσόλυμα κατὰ τὸ ἔθος τῆς ἑορτῆς.
2:42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast.

  Every year Joseph and Mary went to Jerusalem on the days of the Passover but it is not stated whether they took Jesus with them. In the incident recorded by Luke, it was probably the first time Jesus had ever gone up to Jerusalem. According to the rabbis’ teaching, the boy of a Jewish family was to begin his sacred studies at the age of five. When he was in his twelfth year, he was to know Yahweh’s whole law, he was called “son of the law”, was considered an adult and was obliged to observe the legal regulations as an adult. At this age he also began to attend the synagogue.
  In the earlier years Joseph and Mary probably did not take Jesus in Jerusalem, because they considered it dangerous for him to appear there, while King Archelaus was in power (see Mt 2:22-23). He was Herod’s son, just as wicked as his father who murdered the little children. But after nine years of reigning, Archelaus had already been exiled to Switzerland. To this nine-year period, if we add two more years, corresponding to the age of Jesus on his return from Egypt, we conclude that Archelaus' exile coincided with the completion of Jesus' eleventh year. Therefore, Jesus who was twelve years old, could have been presented fearlessly in Jerusalem.
  For the expression “they went up to Jerusalem” see comments on 2:4.

2,43. καὶ τελειωσάντων τὰς ἡμέρας, ἐν τῷ ὑποστρέφειν αὐτοὺς ὑπέμεινεν Ἰησοῦς ὁ παῖς ἐν Ἰερουσαλήμ, καὶ οὐκ ἔγνω Ἰωσὴφ καὶ ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ.
2:43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, and Joseph and his mother did not know it.

  Seven days lasted the celebration of the Passover, during which the Jews ate unleavened bread (see Lev 23:6; Deut 1:3), as their ancestors had eaten before they had left Egypt (see Ex 12:8; 15). The believers, however, were obliged to stay in Jerusalem on the two main days of the feast. They made sure they were there on the eve of the 14th of Nisan, ate the Passover lamb with bitter greens, and left on the third day. Many, of course, who came from distant lands stayed in the holy city until they also celebrated Pentecost (cf. Acts 2:5). The Galileans, poor people, usually came for two or three days and then returned to their work; those who could, came again for Pentecost. Luke notes “when they had fulfilled the days” to show that the holy family remained in Jerusalem for the seven days of the feast.
  Joseph and the virgin Mary, therefore, after the end of the feast, set out for their homeland. But Jesus did not return with them; he “remained”, he stayed behind. By divine providence, “Joseph and his mother did not know it” did not perceive Jesus’ absence, lest they should prevent him from fulfilling his plan. Many, of course, wonder how it was possible that the parents could not have been aware of the child's absence during the whole day. The question is solved in the following verses.

2,44-45. Νομίσαντες δὲ αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ συνοδίᾳ εἶναι ἦλθον ἡμέρας ὁδὸν καὶ ἀνεζήτουν αὐτὸν ἐν τοῖς συγγενέσι καὶ ἐν τοῖς γνωστοῖς· καὶ μὴ εὑρόντες αὐτὸν ὑπέστρεψαν εἰς Ἰερουσαλὴμ ζητοῦντες αὐτόν.
2:44-45 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their relatives and acquaintances; and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking him.

  All those who travelled to Jerusalem formed a great caravan. The women with the little children marched in front, and the men with the older ones behind. So, Jesus' mother thought that the child was with Joseph, while Joseph thought that Jesus was with his mother. After all, they trusted him completely. His exemplary obedience and his amazing prudence had never caused them any worry. So, they did not seek him out until the time they had to settle in for the night. Because they could not find him among the relatives and acquaintances, among whom they sought him, they returned to Jerusalem.

2,46-47. Καὶ ἐγένετο μεθ᾿ ἡμέρας τρεῖς εὗρον αὐτὸν ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ καθεζόμενον ἐν μέσῳ τῶν διδασκάλων καὶ ἀκούοντα αὐτῶν καὶ ἐπερωτῶντα αὐτούς· ἐξίσταντο δὲ πάντες οἱ ἀκούοντες αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τῇ συνέσει καὶ ταῖς ἀποκρίσεσιν αὐτοῦ.
2:46-47 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the rabbis, listening to them and asking them questions; and all who heard him were amazed at at his intelligence and his answers.

  Jesus was found “after three days”; on the evening of the first day Joseph and the Virgin realized his absence, on the second day they returned -"went a day's journey" again (v. 44)- and on the third they found him. He was “in the temple”, in one of the galleries where the teachers of the law taught. It seems that even after the end of the feast some Jews of the diaspora remained in Palestine. The pious teachers stayed in the temple and taught God’s law. Jesus participated in such a group, too.
 twelve year old jesus The expression “sitting among the rabbis” shows that the Lord took the place of the teacher. He was evidently listening to the rabbis’ teaching and was asking his questions as a disciple, since Joseph and the virgin Mary found him “listening to them and asking them questions”. But such was his wisdom that he quickly turned his teachers into disciples. There were, moreover, certain issues which the rabbis ignored and others which they misunderstood. Jesus clarified many points, answered questions, and offered valuable knowledge. Everyone who heard him was “amazed”, astonished, and filled with admiration. A twelve-year-old child made them hang on his every word!
  It is not stated what the subject of their discussion was. It might had been on the hot issue which preoccupied the Jews: the coming of the Messiah, the hope of Israel, the redemption. Perhaps he explained to them that the kingdom of the Son of Man would not be earthly, perhaps he would also allude to his passion. We do not know for sure. But we can assume all these, as they became later Jesus’ preaching and revelation.

2,48. Καὶ ἰδόντες αὐτὸν ἐξεπλάγησαν, καὶ πρὸς αὐτὸν ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ εἶπε· τέκνον, τί ἐποίησας ἡμῖν οὕτως; ἰδοὺ ὁ πατήρ σου κἀγὼ ὀδυνώμενοι ἐζητοῦμέν σε.
2:48 When they saw him, they were astonished and his mother said to him; "My child, why have you behaved thus to us? Behold your father and I have been searching for you anxiously."

  Joseph and the virgin Mary “were astonished”, marvelled and wondered at the place where they found the child, and at the words which they heard. As is evident from their surprise, they did not immediately interrupt him, but listened to his dialogue with the teachers who surrounded him. There were also some other instances for which they were amazed because of the little Jesus (see Lk 2:18. 33). Now another fact was added that made a special impression on them.
  With the anxiety of a loving mother, Mary was the first to speak. She, after all, was more closely connected with the child than Joseph. She did not, of course, rebuke Jesus. She expressed her wonder, “why have you behaved thus to us”, she is unaware of the reason for his action which caused them disturbance and sorrow. “Your father and I have been searching for you anxiously" his mother emphasized. As it is known from the historians of that time, Palestine was living through days of great political upheaval and national turmoil. Jerusalem, as a national and religious centre, was the focus of revolutions and rebellions against the conquerors. It became therefore, obvious that the parents' anxiety over the absence of young Jesus, was intensified.
  Mary called Joseph Jesus’ "father", because that was how he appeared in the people’s eyes.

2,49. Καὶ εἶπε πρὸς αὐτούς· τί ὅτι ἐζητεῖτέ με; οὐκ ᾔδειτε ὅτι ἐν τοῖς τοῦ πατρός μου δεῖ εἶναί με;
2:49 And he said to them, "How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my father's house?"

  This short verse reveals great truths. Some argue that Jesus' conversation with his mother took place in private, when they had already departed from the teachers. But Jesus' response, which shows his intention to reveal his divine nature, does not lead to such a conclusion.
  Jesus rebuked his parents because they were worried. Was it possible for him to be lost? Shouldn't they have known where to find him after all the hints they had about him? Moreover, when his mother said to him, "your father and I have been searching for you anxiously", Jesus gently but firmly corrected her, saying, "Did you not know that I must be in my father's house?" She spoke to him of his supposed father; but he revealed his real father, revealing that he is God’s Son (cf. Jn 5:18). These are Jesus’ first words, recorded in the Gospels, his first preaching, before he even began his public ministry.
  No one before Jesus called God his father. Later, through the Sunday prayer, he taught his disciples to call him so. This is the name of God, which Jesus revealed -according to his word "I have manifested your name to men" (Jn 17:6)- that God is triune and is our Father. This sweet name we ourselves also pronounce. For Jesus, of course, God is his natural father but we are his children thanks to his grace (cf. Jn 20:17; Rom 8:14-17; Gal 4:6-7).

2,50. Καὶ αὐτοὶ οὐ συνῆκαν τὸ ῥῆμα ὃ ἐλάλησεν αὐτοῖς.
2:50 And they did not understand the saying which he spoke to them.

  Luke inserted this verse into the narrative of this incident, probably an explanation of the Virgin herself, to show that Jesus' words contain a depth that could not be explored. Joseph and Mary gradually penetrated it. At that particular moment they could not understand why Jesus made this revelation, the proclamation that God is his Father. Would he begin his public ministry or would he continue to be with them?

2,51. Καὶ κατέβη μετ᾿ αὐτῶν καὶ ἦλθεν εἰς Ναζαρέτ, καὶ ἦν ὑποτασσόμενος αὐτοῖς. Καὶ ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ διετήρει πάντα τὰ ῥήματα ταῦτα ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτῆς.
2:51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. And his mother kept all these incidents in her heart.

  The phrase “was obedient to them” briefly summarizes Jesus’ life up to the age of 30 years old. Jesus is a model of submission for all children. He, to whom everything is submitted, submitted to Joseph and worked with him! Not even to angels were granted such an honor to that which was done to Jesus’ "parents". Indeed, after the event described in this passage, it seemed that he could be freed from their guardianship. But until he took up his public ministry, he continued to live humbly and informally, poorly and simply, in obedience to Joseph, his supposed father, and to the virgin Mary, his mother. His life in its outward behavior was like that of the other children of the peasants. He spent his days in silence and obscurity, occupied with the daily chores of the family, like David who was caring for his father's sheep, like Jeremiah in his priestly family in the Anathoth of the Benjamin’s land, like Amos in the little town of Tekoa among his sheep and the sycamore trees which he cultivated.
Nowhere else in the rest of the Gospel do we find Joseph. We conclude from this that Joseph died before Jesus began his public ministry.
  The Virgin always “kept all these incidents in her heart”, she kept in her heart all the miraculous events concerning Jesus (cf. v. 19). Much more, of course, she kept as a precious treasure the words and deeds of her own son. Besides, mothers undoubtedly record in their memory with historical consistency the details of their children's early years. The evangelist Luke's observations on the inner world of the virgin Mary is another proof that reinforces the view that Jesus’ mother was the basic and fully reliable source of his information.

2,52. Καὶ Ἰησοῦς προέκοπτε σοφίᾳ καὶ ἡλικίᾳ καὶ χάριτι παρὰ Θεῷ καὶ ἀνθρώποις.
2:52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man.

  Luke points out the threefold progress that Jesus displayed as a child; he increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man. That is, the more he grew in age, the more his wisdom (see comments on v. 40) and grace increased in the eyes of God and men; "he satisfied God with his deeds and people praised him".

Κυριακή, 02 Ιανουάριος 2022 20:44

Ὁ Ἀντίχριστος καί τό 666


Στ. Ν. Σάκκου

Ἐμπεριστατωμένη μελέτη γιά τό πολυσυζητημένο θέμα.
Ἀκολουθεῖ τήν πατερική παράδοση καί μέ τρόπο ἁπλό καί κατανοητό καταστέλλει τόν πανικό
καί ἀποτρέπει ἀπό τόν ἐφησυχασμό
Ζητῆστε το στό Βιβλιοπωλεῖο μας "Ἀπολύτρωσις", τηλ. 2310 274518
ἤ στό ἠλεκτρονικό μας Βιβλιοπωλεῖο
Κυριακή, 02 Ιανουάριος 2022 20:33

Ἔλεγχος πνευματικῆς πορείας


Στ. Ν. Σάκκου
Γιά σταθερή πορεία στόν πνευματικό μας ἀγώνα.
Ζητῆστε το στό Βιβλιοπωλεῖο μας "Ἀπολύτρωσις", τηλ. 2310 274518
ἤ στό ἠλεκτρονικό μας Βιβλιοπωλεῖο

Ἰησοῦς καί Ἐμμανουήλ

 kyrios toxo Ἀγαπητά μου ἀδέλφια, στό εὐ­αγγε­λι­κό ἀνάγνωσμα σήμερα, Κυ­ριακή πρό τῆς Γεννήσεως τοῦ Χριστοῦ, ἀκούσαμε μιά σει­ρά ὀνο­μά­των -ἄνδρες διαφόρων προελεύ­σεων ἀλλά καί μερικές γυναῖκες- τή λεγο­μένη γενεαλογία τοῦ Χριστοῦ (βλ. Μθ 1,1-25). Τό καθένα ἔχει τήν ἱ­στο­ρία του καί, ἄν εἴ­χαμε χρόνο νά μελετήσουμε τήν ἱ­στο­ρία ὅ­λων αὐ­τῶν τῶν ὀνομάτων, θά μα­θαί­ναμε μεγάλα μα­θήματα, θά διδασκό­­μασταν με­γάλα δι­δάγ­ματα. Καί θά μαθαί­να­με κυ­ρί­ως δύο μεγάλα καί σπουδαῖα γιά τή ζωή μας: τήν πί­στη καί τή μετάνοια. Καί αὐτά τά δύο ἑνωμένα στήν ὑποταγή στόν Θεό, στήν ἔν­ταξη τῶν ἀνθρώπων στό σχέ­διο τοῦ Θεοῦ.
  Ἀφήνω τό πλῆθος τῶν ὀνομά­των καί καταλήγω σέ δύο ὀνόματα. Καί τά δύο αὐ­τά ὀνόματα εἶναι ἑνός καί τοῦ αὐτοῦ προσώπου. Εἶναι δύο ὀνόματα πού ἀνή­κουν στόν Κύριό μας Ἰησοῦν Χριστόν, στό νεογέν­νη­το βρέφος. Στό βρέφος πού εἶναι ὁ πρό αἰώνων Θεός: τό ἕνα ὄνομα εἶ­ναι Ἰ­ησοῦς καί τό ἄλλο Ἐμ­μα­νου­ήλ. Ὅλοι μας μικροί καί με­γά­λοι γνωρίζουμε τά ὀνό­μα­τα αὐτά. Καί ὅμως, ἐάν περισ­σό­τερο με­λε­τή­σουμε τό θέμα, θά δοῦμε ὅτι δέν τά γνω­ρίζουμε καλά, διότι γνώση δέν εἶναι νά λέ­με ἁπλῶς τό ὄνομα Ἰη­σοῦς ἤ τό ὄνομα Ἐμμανουήλ· εἶναι νά ζοῦμε μέσα στήν ὕ­παρξή μας τήν παρουσία του, τήν κυριαρ­χία του, νά ζοῦμε στή ζωή μας τή ζωή του. Διότι Ἰησοῦς καί Ἐμμανουήλ ση­μαίνει αὐ­τό, ὅτι ὁ Κύριος ἦλθε νά μᾶς δώ­σει τή ζωή του γιά νά γίνει ζωή μας.
Μπορεῖ πολλοί νά καλλιεργοῦν τή μο­νο­λό­γιστη εὐχή, καί εἶναι ἅγια αὐτή ἡ καλ­λιέργεια. Ἀλλά πολλές φορές τυπικά λέμε τό ὄνομα Ἰησοῦς χωρίς νά ἔχει κανέ­να ἀν­τίκρισμα, διότι δέν μελετοῦμε τό θέ­μα. Μέ τή μελέτη ὁ πιστός ὅλο καί περισσό­τερο ἐμβαθύνει, ὅλο καί περισ­σότερο συνδέεται μέ τό πρόσωπο τοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χρι­στοῦ, ὅλο καί περισσότερο συνδέεται ἡ ἱστορία μας μέ τήν ἱστορία του καί ἡ ζωή μας μέ τή ζω­ή του. Ἔτσι ὅλο καί περισ­σό­τε­ρο θά νιώ­θου­με ὅτι δέν ἔχουμε θέλημα, διότι τό θέ­­λημά μας πλέον εἶναι τό θέλημα τοῦ Ἰη­σοῦ, τό φρόνημά μας τό φρόνημα τοῦ Ἰη­σοῦ καί τά σχέδιά μας τά σχέδια τοῦ Ἰη­­σοῦ Χρι­στοῦ.
  Ὧρες θά χρειαζόμουν γιά νά ἐμβα­θύ­νω μαζί σας στό νόημα τοῦ μεγά­λου ὀ­νό­ματος Ἰησοῦς. Φθάνει ὅμως ἐκεῖνο πού λέγει ὁ εὐαγγελιστής Ματθαῖος ἑρ­μηνεύ­οντάς το. Τό ὄνομα Ἰησοῦς τό ἔφε­ραν καί ἄλλοι: ὁ Ἰησοῦς τοῦ Ναυή, ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὁ πρῶ­τος ἀρ­χιερέας μετά τή βα­βυ­λώ­νιο αἰχμαλωσία. Ἀλλά γιά ὅλους τούς ἄλ­λους Ἰησοῦς ση­μαίνει «ὁ Γιαχβέ σώζει». Ὁ Ματ­θαῖος ὅμως γράφει· «Καὶ καλέσεις τὸ ὄνο­μα αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦν» καί δέν λέγει «ὁ Γιαχ­βέ θά σώσει», ἀλλά «αὐτὸς γὰρ σώσει τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ ἀ­πὸ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν αὐτῶν» (Μθ 1,21). Ἔτσι Ἰησοῦς σημαίνει θεο­σω­τήρ. Καί ἐρωτῶ τήν καρδιά μου, ἀδέλφια μου, κι ἐσεῖς τήν καρδιά σας: Ποιό εἶναι τό μεγαλύτερο θέμα, τό πιό ἐπεῖγον, τό πιό καυτό στή ζωή μου; Ποιό εἶναι; Εἶναι ἡ λύτρωσή μου ἀπό τήν ἁ­μαρ­τία. Ὁ ναυα­γός θέλει τόν ναυαγοσώστη, αὐτός πού καίγεται τόν πυρο­σβέ­στη καί αὐτός πού χαρο­πα­λεύει καί ξεψυχάει θέλει τόν λυ­τρωτή, τόν ἐλευθερωτή. Νά, λοι­πόν, ὁ σωτήρας. Εἶναι αὐτός πού μᾶς σώζει ἀπό τό με­γαλύτερο κακό, ἀπό τή φοβερότερη τυραννία, ἀπό τό καθεστώς τοῦ σατανᾶ, ἀπό τήν ἁμαρτία καί τό κράτος της, τή φθορά καί τόν θάνατο. Ἰησοῦς λοι­πόν, ὄνομα γλυκύ, γλυκύτατο, «εἶναι ὁ Θεός πού ἔγινε ἄνθρωπος γιά νά μέ σώσει».
  Τό δεύτερο ὄνομα τοῦ Κυρίου μας εἶναι Ἐμμα­νου­ήλ. Σήμερα κανένας δέν ὀνομάζεται Ἰησοῦς. Ἀπό τότε πού ὁ Χριστός ἔχει τό ὄνομα Ἰησοῦς κανένας δέν λέ­γε­ται Ἰησοῦς. Τό ὄνομα ὅμως Ἐμμανουήλ πολλοί τό ἔχουν. Τό Ἐμ­μανουήλ ἦταν τό δεύτερο ὄνομα, τό παρατσούκλι. Ἐμ­μανουήλ ση­μαίνει «ὁ Θεός μαζί μας». Καί δεύτερο ἐρώτημα στήν καρδιά μου: Καλά, εἶμαι ἀπαλλαγμένος ἀπό τήν ἁμαρτία, λυτρωμένος ἀπό τό κακό. Πολύ ὡραῖα ὅλα. Ἀλλά εἶμαι μόνος. Τί τρομερό ἡ μοναξιά! Καί σήμερα μέσα στήν πολυκοσμία ἡ μοναξιά εἶναι τό φοβερότερο πράγμα. Ὅμως ὁ Ἐμμανουήλ εἶναι ὄχι μόνο ὁ λυτρωτής μου, πού μέ λυ­τρώνει, ἀλλά εἶναι καί ὁ σύντροφός μου, πού μοῦ χαρίζει τήν πιό γλυκειά συντροφιά. «Συντροφιά μέ τόν Χριστό λαχτάρησα νά ζήσω, ὥσπου νἆθρει ἡ στερνή στιγμή νά ξε­ψυχήσω», λέει ὁ ποιητής. Δέν ὑπάρχει γλυ­κύτερο πράγμα ἀπό τή συντροφιά μέ τόν Χρι­στό. Παράδεισος τί εἶναι; Συντροφιά μέ τόν Χριστό. Λέγει ὁ ἅγιος Χρυσόστομος: «Ἄν πάω στόν παράδεισο, θά ζητήσω τόν Χρι­στό. Αὐτόν λαχταρῶ νά δῶ. Ἄν δέν εἶναι ἐκεῖ καί μοῦ ποῦν ὅτι εἶναι στήν κόλαση, θά πῶ “γρήγορα νά μέ πᾶτε στήν κόλαση”». Ἡ κόλαση μέ τόν Χριστό γίνεται παρά­δει­σος. Ὁ παράδεισος χωρίς τόν Χριστό εἶναι κό­λαση. Αὐτόν τόν Χριστό μποροῦμε νά τόν ἔχουμε ἀπό ᾽δῶ, ἀπό αὐτή τή ζωή, ἀδέλφια μου, νά ζοῦμε ἀπό ᾽δῶ τόν παράδεισο, νά ἀπολαμβάνουμε ἀπό ᾽δῶ τήν αἰώνια ζωή, γιά νά συνεχισθεῖ ἀπό ᾽δῶ ἡ αἰώνια ζωή καί εἰς αἰῶνας αἰώνων.
  Γι᾽ αὐτό λοιπόν καταλήγω: Θά γιορτάσουμε Χριστούγεννα μέ Χριστό ἤ χωρίς Χρι­στό; Καί πῶς θά κάνουμε Χριστούγεννα μέ τόν Χριστό; Ὄχι μέ τά φαγητά καί μέ τά στολίδια, ἀλλά μέ μετάνοια καί Ἐξομολόγηση καί θεία Κοινωνία. Ἴσως κι ἐδῶ μέσα στό ἐκκλησίασμα ὑπάρχουν ἄνθρωποι πού ἔχουν χρόνια νά ἐξομολογηθοῦν. Μήπως ἔφθασε ἡ στιγμή νά ἐξομολογηθεῖτε φέτος, νά κοινωνήσετε; Ἀλλά καί ὅσοι ἐξομο­λο­γού­μαστε πάλι νά ἐξομολογηθοῦμε, ὥστε μέ τήν ἑτοιμασία αὐτή νά κοινωνήσουμε τό σῶμα καί τό αἷμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ «εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν καὶ εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον». «Εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρ­τιῶν», ἐφόσον ὁ Ἰησοῦς μᾶς λυτρώνει ἀπό τήν ἁμαρτία, καί «εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον» καί χαράν αἰώνιον, διότι ὁ Ἐμμανουήλ εἶναι ἡ αἰώνια συντροφιά μας.

Στ. Ν. Σάκκος
Κυριακή 24/12/2006, ἱ. ν. Ἀναλήψεως τοῦ Σωτῆρος, Φίλυρο

Δευτέρα, 15 Νοέμβριος 2021 20:46


  Have you ever met someone who can speak several foreign languages? It needs a lot of effort and an aptitude in order to be able to communicate in many languages.
  Yet, some low-educated people managed to talk all the known languages in a single day - no, it's better to say in a moment! Listen to the incident, as it is described in one of the books of the New Testament which is called "Acts of the Apostles".
  Jerusalem was crowded. It had been about fifty days since Passover, the greatest Jewish feast day. Do you remember what Jews celebrated on Passover? The miraculous passing through the Red Sea, their liberation from slavery in Egypt. Since it was their most important religious celebration, they made sure to be in Jerusalem during that time, even those who lived far away. In addition, most of them decided to stay in Jerusalem until Pentecost, another important feast day. It was a harvesting celebration, meaning that they rejoiced in collecting the first crops. They offered sacrifices in the Temple to thank God for the first crops from the land. It was called Pentecost because this celebration took place fifty days after Passover.
pentikosti 1  It was time for the Pentecost celebration, when suddenly there was a commotion in the city of Jerusalem. A loud rumble from the sky, like an extremely strong wind, startled everyone! They rushed to see what was happening. The rumble led them to assemble outside a house. Who lived in that house? Christ's students were gathered there. The loud rumble being heard, twelve fiery tongues, like flames, appeared and spread equally, each above an apostle. At that moment Christ's students were overrun by the Holy Spirit and they started talking in foreign languages!
  The crowd outside heard them talk and they felt curious and impressed! How could those low-educated people speak so many languages? "They come from Galilee, don't they? How is it possible to hear them talk in our own dialect?" people discussed. "Parthians, Medes, habitants of Mesopotamia, of Judah, of Cappadocia, of Pontus, of Asia, of Egypt, of Libya, people who came from Rome, Crete and Arabia, we all hear these men talk in our language!" It's truly bizarre and wondrous! What all these mean?
  Others, however, mocked the apostles. "They are drunk" they dared say. Is that what drunk people look like? The apostles talked with boldness about Christ and preached His Resurrection before the crowds. Their speech was so persuasive that about 3000 people believed in Christ and got baptized that day! Those people constituted the first Church.
  In other words, that day is the birth day of our Church! It was the fiftieth (Pentecost) day after Christ's Resurrection. So, every year, fifty days after Easter we celebrate Pentecost and commemorate the birth day of our Church.
  Since the great day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit is always among us, both in the Church and with each Christian.
  What is the Holy Spirit? It's neither a spirit, nor a wind, nor a fire. It appeared that way on the day of Pentecost in order to make his presence known. The Holy Spirit is God, the third person of the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit).
  Since the day of our baptism, we host the Holy Spirit inside us. He grants us with his gifts: love, happiness, peace, kindness and many more (see Gal 5:22-23).
  His other name shows how much he loves us; he is called Paraclete. What does this word mean? Paraclete is the one who consoles, gives strength and guides to the right pathway.
  The Holy Spirit or Paraclete conducts the seven sacred Mysteries/sacraments of the Orthodox Church; Baptism, Chrismation, Confession, Holy Communion, Unction, Marriage and Ordination.
  Each Mystery or religious Service begins with a prayer to the Holy Spirit. You have definitely heard of it. We recite it here in our church school, too. Let's say it all together.
  What do we ask from the Holy Spirit?
  a) Come and dwell in us; to come and make our heart his home. Of course, he came the day we were baptized. But the Holy Spirit gets sad with our sins, so he is forced to move away. We pray so that the Holy Spirit forgives us and returns in our heart. How wonderful it is to be with Paraclete!
  b) And cleanse us from every stain; to clean us from every sin. When we first received the Holy Spirit on the day we got baptized, our soul became crystal white. However, our sins stain our soul. That's why we plead Paraclete to clean us from our sins.
  c) And save our souls, O Good One. Satan wants to pull our souls away from God. He sets traps for us all the time. We plead the Holy Spirit to keep us safe from every danger that threatens our soul.
Let us pray, either all together here in the church school or when we are alone, let us plead whole-heartedly Paraclete, the Holy Spirit to stay forever inside us and to fill us with Its precious gifts.

You, the Holy Spirit
you are the Heavenly King
Become our strength
Come and inhabit our being

Δευτέρα, 15 Νοέμβριος 2021 20:16

e) The Dedication of Jesus (Lk 2:22-40)


by Stergios N. Sakkos, University Professor


2,22. Καὶ ὅτε ἐπλήσθησαν αἱ ἡμέραι τοῦ καθαρισμοῦ αὐτῶν κατὰ τὸν νόμον Μωϋσέως, ἀνήγαγον αὐτὸν εἰς Ἰεροσόλυμα παραστῆσαι τῷ Κυρίῳ.
2:22 And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.

  According to the Mosaic ritual, forty days after the birth of a male child and eighty days after the birth of a female child, the mother and her newborn were to present themselves in the temple and offer the appointed sacrifice for the mother’s legal purification (see Lev ch. 12). The Virgin Mary, of course, had no need of purification, because she conceived her son supernaturally by the Holy Spirit and gave birth to him without suffering the slightest bodily injury or change. However, she accepted the purification as her son who accepted the circumcision, so that she would not appear to be breaking the Mosaic law.
  Many fathers and scripture interpreters maintain that the Virgin gave birth to Jesus without pains. This is indeed very likely, both because the infant was of divine origin and because the mother was of exceptional holiness. The mother of the Son of God was not included in the curse that was heard for Eve when she sinned; "in sorrow you shall bring forth children" (Gen 3:16). In the 12th chapter of Revelation, of course, the "woman clothed with the sun", a symbol of the Most Holy Virgin and of the whole Church, appears to have childbirth pains (see Rev 12:1-2). But that is a symbolic expression; it indicates the pain which like a sword struck Virgin Mary’s heart according to Simeon’s prophecy (see v. 35), as well as the difficulties and problems which the enlisted faithful in the Church encounter in all ages.
  Along with the mother’s purification, the dedication of the firstborn boy to God took place. The verb to “present=παραστῆσαι” occurs very often in the Holy Bible as a term denoting the presentation of the sacrifices on the altar during the Levitical worship. It is also used for the presentation of slaves to masters, of workers to employers, of subjects to the king, of soldiers to the general, of the bride to the bridegroom; finally, for the complete surrender of believers to God (see Rom 12:1).

2,23. καθὼς γέγραπται ἐν νόμῳ Κυρίου ὅτι πᾶν ἄρσεν διανοῖγον μήτραν ἅγιον τῷ Κυρίῳ κληθήσεται.
2:23 as it is written in the Lord’s law that every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord.

  On the night of the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, God smote the Egyptians’ firstborns. The Jews’ firstborns were saved by the blood of the lamb, which they spread on the doorposts of their houses. From then on, every firstborn son was "holy", dedicated to God’s service (see Ex 13:2). Because God chose the Levites to serve him instead of these firstborns (see Num 3:12), the Jews could redeem their firstborns by paying the price of 5 shekels to the temple (see Num 18:15-16). Not only first-born children were considered 'holy', but also the first-born of domestic animals and the first-fruit (see Ex 22:29-30) which were offered to the temple.

2,24. καὶ τοῦ δοῦναι θυσίαν κατὰ τὸ εἰρημένον ἐν νόμῳ Κυρίου, ζεῦγος τρυγόνων ἤ δύο νεοσσοὺς περιστερῶν.
2:24 and to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the Lord’s law, a pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons.

  On the day of the purification of the mother and the child’s dedication, the parents in addition to the sum of five shekels which they offered to the temple, sacrificed a one-year- old lamb and a young pigeon or a turtle dove. If they were poor, the law required them to offer a pair of turtle doves or two small pigeons (see Le 12:6.8). From the fact that only the second case is mentioned in this verse, we conclude that Joseph and Mary were poor.

2,25. Καὶ ἰδοὺ ἦν ἄνθρωπος ἐν Ἰεροσολύμοις ᾧ ὄνομα Συμεών, καὶ ὁ ἄνθρωπος οὗτος δίκαιος καὶ εὐλαβής, προσδεχόμενος παράκλησιν τοῦ Ἰσραήλ, καὶ Πνεῦμα ἦν Ἅγιον ἐπ᾿ αὐτόν.
2:25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.

  The event of the legal purification of the Blessed Mother and Jesus’ dedication is connected to an encounter. Two people from the chosen remnant of Israel, Simeon and Anna, met the Messiah, whom they had been longing for. For this reason, the corresponding despotic feast which our Church has set forty days after Christmas is called "The Meeting of the Lord in the Temple" (υπαπαντή = meeting).
It has been suggested that Simeon was one of the Septuagint members who translated the Old Testament, that he was a high priest or rabbi, father of Gamaliel. This information, however, is inaccurate; it comes mainly from apocryphal texts. If Simeon had anything to do with the priesthood, Luke would have clearly stated it along with the other details of his identity. Simeon was a simple and faithful man, like the shepherds and the prophetess Anna.
  Besides his name and place of residence, we also learn that he was “righteous and devout”, which means that he was a God’s man. Some interpreters believe that the designation “devout” refers to his relationship with God, while “righteous” refers to his relationship with people. In the Bible, however, the pious and godly are also described "righteous" (see comments on 1:6). In other words, two words are used here which express the same meaning (the form "in twofold = ἕν διά δυοῖν").
  Simeon was a man of “waiting for”, looking forward with intense desire and deep longing, to “the consolation of Israel” i.e., the Messiah. The verb "παρακαλῶ" means "to comfort, to support". In general, it denotes the work of spiritual support and spiritual cultivation. Simeon waited for God to send the Paraklitos (= Comforter) Messiah, to strengthen and cultivate the nation of Israel, to fulfill its expectations.
  Finally, it is emphasized that “the Holy Spirit was upon him”, so that Simeon's prophetic character could be seen. He, after Elizabeth (1:42-45) and Zechariah (1:68-79), proclaimed that the Messiah had come.

2,26. καὶ ἦν αὐτῷ κεχρηματισμένον ὑπὸ τοῦ Πνεύματος τοῦ Ἁγίου μὴ ἰδεῖν θάνατον πρὶν ἢ ἴδῃ τὸν Χριστὸν Κυρίου.
2:26 and it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Anointed One.

  Simeon was informed by the Holy Spirit, “it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit” -whether by an angel or by a vision-, that he would not see death, he would not die, before he had seen the Messiah.
  “Lord's Anointed One” is called the one anointed by God the Father, he is the one sent to bring salvation to the race of men (see 2:11). Jesus is, indeed, the one sent by God the Father, but at the same time he is also the Lord and God himself.

2,27-28. Καὶ ἦλθεν ἐν τῷ Πνεύματι εἰς τὸ ἱερόν· καὶ ἐν τῷ εἰσαγαγεῖν τοὺς γονεῖς τὸ παιδίον Ἰησοῦν τοῦ ποιῆσαι αὐτοὺς κατὰ τὸ εἰθισμένον τοῦ νόμου περὶ αὐτοῦ, καὶ αὐτὸς ἐδέξατο αὐτὸν εἰς τὰς ἀγκάλας αὐτοῦ καὶ εὐλόγησε τὸν Θεὸν καὶ εἶπε.
2:27-28 And he came by the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said.

ypapanti  Simeon came “by the Spirit”, by the exhortation of the Holy Spirit, into the temple. At that moment the holy family came there to fulfill what the Mosaic law prescribed. Luke does not hesitate to use the word "parents" for the virgin Mary and Joseph. They appeared and acted, according to the divine counsel, in this capacity at that time.
  The elder Simeon is called "God holder = θεοδόχος" because he held the divine infant in his arms. He touched God himself in his heart, which overflowing with love and happiness burst out in hymn and praise.

2,29-32. νῦν ἀπολύεις τὸν δοῦλόν σου, δέσποτα, κατὰ τὸ ῥῆμά σου ἐν εἰρήνῃ, ὅτι εἶδον οἱ ὀφθαλμοί μου τὸ σωτήριόν σου, ὃ ἡτοίμασας κατὰ πρόσωπον πάντων τῶν λαῶν, φῶς εἰς ἀποκάλυψιν ἐθνῶν καὶ δόξαν λαοῦ σου Ἰσραήλ.
2:29-32 Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in view of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for the glory of Israel, your people.

  The verb "depart (= ἀπολύω)" (cf. Ge 15:2; Num 20:29) is synonymous with "ἀναλύω" (see Phil 1:23; 2 Tim 4:6). The verb "ἀναλύω" is used literally of soldiers and travellers, who "ἀναλύουν" unload their cargo, when they reach their destination. The "ἀπολύω" is literally used of ships tied up in port; they "ἀπολύουν" them, untie them to leave the port and open out to sea. Death is an unloading and a departure. The soul unloads the burden of the body and freely departs from this earth for the port of heaven.
  Simeon called himself a “servant” and addressed God by calling him “Lord”. The status of a captive servant was surely the most terrible and degrading thing for man who was created to be free. But for the believers it is a title of honor to be called "Lord’s servants". The apostles refer to this title with modest boasting (see Rom 1:1; Phil 1:1; Tit 1:1; Jas 1:1; Jude 1; Rev 1:1).
  The venerable old man succeeded in receiving into his arms the redeemer whom the ages had been waiting for. “According to” the Lord's “word”, according to the divine promise, the strongest desire of his life was fulfilled. He saw not by faith nor by desire and hope, but with his own eyes Messiah’s coming. That is why he departs this world “in peace”.
  The word “salvation”, which is often mentioned in the Old Testament, means the Lord’s saving and redeeming work in general, but especially the Savior Himself. Simeon managed to see in Jesus’ person the one all the prophets expected and longed to see.
  God planned and prepared salvation for all the peoples of the earth. Simeon referred to the universality of salvation by saying that was “prepared in view of all peoples”. Furthermore, in the prophecies of the Old Testament despite the narrow nationalistic spirit of that time, there is clear reference to universal salvation, too. The prophet Isaiah clearly declares: "The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God" (52:10).
  The “salvation” is clarified by the “light” and “glory”, and the “peoples” by the “Gentiles” and “Israel”. It is appropriately said about the Gentiles, who were deprived of the true knowledge of God and divine revelation, that they will be given the light that will dispel the darkness of error and ignorance, so that the truth may shine in their eyes. Messianic salvation and the Messiah were already announced by the prophets as "the light of the Gentiles" (Is 42:6; 49:6; 51:4). The Messiah is glory for Israel, God's people, for "salvation is of the Jews" (Jn 4:22).
  Simeon’s hymn possesses a special place in the worship of our Church. It is heard by the priest at the end of the Vespers service. In this solemn service, which reminds us that as the day ends, so will our lives, Simeon’s hymn is an exhortation; to be ready at any moment to surrender ourselves into the Lord’s arms and to be with him in the land of the living.

2,33. Καὶ ἦν Ἰωσὴφ καὶ ἡ μήτηρ αὐτοῦ θαυμάζοντες ἐπὶ τοῖς λαλουμένοις περὶ αὐτοῦ.
2:33 And Joseph and his mother marveled at what was said about him.

  Joseph and the child’s mother listened with admiration to Simeon’s prophetic words (cf. Lk 2:18).

2,34. Καὶ εὐλόγησεν αὐτοὺς Συμεὼν καὶ εἶπε πρὸς Μαριὰμ τὴν μητέρα αὐτοῦ· ἰδοὺ οὗτος κεῖται εἰς πτῶσιν καὶ ἀνάστασιν πολλῶν ἐν τῷ Ἰσραὴλ καὶ εἰς σημεῖον ἀντιλεγόμενον.
2:34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother; behold, this child is set for the fall and uprising of many in Israel and for a sign which shall be spoken against.

  The old man Simeon, by the right which his age gave him, “blessed” Joseph and Mary, and invoked for them God’s grace and blessing. Then he turned only “to Mary”, because enlightened by the Holy Spirit he knew that she was the child’s mother while Joseph was only their caretaker.
  The best commentary for Simeon's prophecy, “behold, this child is set for the fall and uprising of many in Israel and for a sign which shall be spoken against”, is the History itself. The Lord was rightly described as "a stumbling stone and a rock of offence" (Rom 9:33; cf. Is 8:14); those who stumbled upon him, either tumbled into the abyss, or were hurled into the heights of divine grace. Apostle Paul wrote accurately: “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God." (1 Cor 1:18). Those who were scandalized by the humiliation of the cross and rejected Christ, were cut off from salvation. But those who embraced Lord’s cross became partakers of his resurrection. He himself said that he came into the world as light. Those who do evil works hate the light and shun it. On the contrary, those who are connected to the truth approach him fearfully and in love (see Jn 3:19-21). It is a fact that no name has been fought with such cruelty, with such terrible fury, with vicious slanders and with abysmal malice as Jesus’ name. But also, no name was loved with more power and touching devotion than Jesus’. The presence of the God-Man, as it divided history in the B.C. and A.D. eras, in the same way it divided mankind into two factions - those who hated and fought him and those who believed and loved him.

2,35. Καὶ σοῦ δὲ αὐτῆς τὴν ψυχὴν διελεύσεται ῥομφαία, ὅπως ἂν ἀποκαλυφθῶσιν ἐκ πολλῶν καρδιῶν διαλογισμοί.
2:35 And a sword will pierce through your own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

  Some interpreters, taking the word “sword” literally, have argued that the Virgin Mary died a martyr's death. But this is not attested by tradition. Simeon did not refer to martyrdom of the body but of the soul. He used a very characteristic expression to prophesy the pain of Jesus' mother at the death of her son. This prophecy was fulfilled when the virgin Mary saw Jesus on the cross. Simeon implicitly prophesied that the Messiah was vulnerable. As sinless, of course, he was immortal. But he willingly endured crucifixion and burial, in order to redeem man from death and sin. Through Simeon’s prophecy, the Virgin was also prepared for the tribulation that would pierce her heart.
  According to Simeon's prophecy, the Lord's death on the cross indeed manifested the thoughts of many, “that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed”. The different attitude which the two thieves took towards the Crucified One (see Lk 23:39-43), the centurion’s confession (see Mt 27:54; Mk 15:39; Lk 23:47), the courage of Joseph's from Arimathea (Mt 27:57; Mk 15:43; Lk 23:50; Jn 19:38), and the betrayal of Judas (Mt 26:47-51; Mk 14:43-46; Lk 22:47-48; Jn 18:3-5), were some of the fulfillments of this prophecy.

2,36-37. Καὶ ἦν Ἄννα προφῆτις, θυγάτηρ Φανουήλ, ἐκ φυλῆς Ἀσήρ· αὕτη προβεβηκυῖα ἐν ἡμέραις πολλαῖς, ζήσασα ἔτη μετὰ ἀνδρὸς ἑπτὰ ἀπὸ τῆς παρθενίας αὐτῆς, καὶ αὐτὴ χήρα ὡς ἐτῶν ὀγδοήκοντα τεσσάρων, ἣ οὐκ ἀφίστατο ἀπὸ τοῦ ἱεροῦ νηστείαις καὶ δεήσεσι λατρεύουσα νύκτα καὶ ἡμέραν.
2:36-37 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher; she was of a great age, and had lived with her husband seven years from her virginity, and then being a widow of eighty-four years. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasts and prayers night and day.

  To the prophets’ line, who prophesied of Jesus, a venerable widow was added. St Ambrose observed that "Simeon prophesied, the Virgin had prophesied, the married (Elizabeth) had prophesied, the widow should also prophesy, so that no condition of life and no sex is left out".
  The evangelist Luke gives us the clues to the identity of this widow. Her name was Anna, a Hebrew name meaning "grace", and she was described as a prophetess. A "prophet" is one who, having the holy Spirit, comforts, edifies, supports and moreover often reveals secrets of the heart or prophesies the future (see 1 Cor 14:1-5). Anna was Phanuel’s daughter and belonged to the tribe of Asher. She was of advanced age. After seven years of marriage, she was widowed. “Eighty-four years” old may refer to the years of her widowhood, but it is more likely to indicate her age.
  The expression “she did not depart from the temple” does not certainly mean that she dwelt in the temple. Luke, using an exaggerated expression, shows that Anna persistently worshipped God by fasts and prayers; she did not miss any of the services held in the temple.
  Her venerable age, her pure widowhood and her great devotion to God made her worthy of the prophetic gift.

2,38. καὶ αὕτη αὐτῇ τῇ ὥρᾳ ἐπιστᾶσα ἀνθωμολογεῖτο τῷ Κυρίῳ καὶ ἐλάλει περὶ αὐτοῦ πᾶσι τοῖς προσδεχομένοις λύτρωσιν ἐν Ἰερουσαλήμ.
2:38 and coming up just at that moment, she gave thanks to God, and spoke about him to all who were expecting the redemption in Jerusalem.

  While Simeon was prophesying, Anna “coming up”, standing near, as a second witness, joined with him in her prophecy and thanksgiving to the Lord. It is a scriptural saying; "at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established" (Deut 19:15).
  The preposition "ἀντί" in the verb “ἀνθωμολογεῖτο” includes the meaning of owing thanksgiving for a deed of benevolence. The evangelist does not save Anna's words. But it is possible that the pious old woman repeated Simeon's prophecy. After leaving the temple, she “spoke about him” about Jesus “to all who were expecting the redemption” who were eagerly waiting for what God had promised.
Jesus was born in a manger humbly and secretly, but heaven proclaimed the event by the star and the angels. Similarly, now Simeon and Anna revealed who this infant was to those who were eagerly awaiting the Messiah. He came to the temple, informally, like any Hebrew child. They assured that this is the one who during Solomon’s time, like a bright cloud covered the newly built temple. Now his inaccessible majesty was hidden under the poor swaddling-clothes in a humble mother’s arms. For what human eyes could bear to face his divine glory and the company of his angels?

2,39. Καὶ ὡς ἐτέλεσαν ἅπαντα τὰ κατὰ τὸν νόμον Κυρίου, ὑπέστρεψαν εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν εἰς τὴν πόλιν ἑαυτῶν Ναζαρέτ.
2:39 Then, as soon as they had accomplished everything according to the Lord’s law, they returned to Galilee to their own town Nazareth.

  Joseph and the virgin Mary, after “they had accomplished everything according to the Lord’s law”, concerning the purification of the mother and the child’s dedication, returned “to Galilee to their own town Nazareth”, their permanent dwelling-place.
  This verse has been used by some as an argument against the reliability of the God-inspired Gospel text. They pointed out that the Gospel according to Luke was in an alleged disagreement with the Gospel according to Matthew, which narrates the worship of the Wise Men, the slaughter of infants and the flight to Egypt (see chapter 2). However, there is absolutely no such a disagreement or contradiction. A careful study of the two Gospels will help us to reconstruct the whole scene of Jesus’ birth. When Joseph was informed by God’s revelation about the divine plan and called to serve as the Messiah’s support, he decided to dedicate himself to this work. His forced travel to Bethlehem because of the census, gave him the opportunity to move away from the infamous village of Nazareth and from his children, who had already grown up and could live on their own. Joseph took with him the virgin Mary, who as a woman, was possibly not obliged to register.
  After Jesus’ birth, Joseph, as a "τέκτων" i.e., a craftsman, easily found work and settled in Bethlehem. From there, he set out with the infant and his mother to accomplish the purification and dedication in the Temple of Jerusalem (see Lk 2:22-38) and returned again to Bethlehem, to "the house", where, according to Matthew (2:11), the Wise Men found the newborn king. Of course, it took about six months or maybe even a year for the Wise Men to prepare and make their long journey "from the east" (Mt 2:1). Herod, who "according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men” to be sure, ordered that the children to be slaughtered should be "from two years old and under". After the Wise Men’s worship Joseph, by God's command, received the child and his mother, left Bethlehem and departed for Egypt (see Mt 2:13-14).
  When there was not any danger for the life of the newborn child, since Herod had died, Joseph was again instructed to return (see Mt 2:19-21). He planned to settle in Bethlehem until God would direct him again, but he feared the new king of Judea, Archelaus, son of the slayer Herod. With divine prompting he headed for Galilee and settled in Nazareth. So, the prophecy was fulfilled "that the Messiah shall be called Nazarene" (see Mt 2:21-23). This was God's plan; that Jesus should be called Nazarene, thought to be Joseph’s son, "for a season" until the mystery of the divine economy would be revealed.
  Luke omits what Matthew writes and starts with the settlement of the holy family in Nazareth at the exact point where the story of Jesus’ birth closes. There Jesus would stay until the time came for his public ministry.

2,40. Τὸ δὲ παιδίον ηὔξανε καὶ ἐκραταιοῦτο πνεύματι πληρούμενον σοφίας, καὶ χάρις Θεοῦ ἦν ἐπ᾿ αὐτό.
2:40 And the child grew and became strong in spirit and full of wisdom, and the grace /favour of God rested upon him.

  In Luke's narrative we find expressions that characterize the various stages of Jesus' life, such as "fruit of your womb" (1:42); "infant" (2:12); "child" (2:40); "child" (2:43); "a man prophet" (24:19). These expressions indicate that the Lord did not appear in an adult’s stature, as Adam and Eve did. He followed as a perfect man the natural growth, sanctifying both infancy and childhood.
  The expression "the child grew and became strong in spirit” is used by Luke also for John the Baptist (see 1:80). It means the physical growth and spiritual maturity that a child shows as he grows up. The divinity, of course, which was united with the human nature, remained unaltered.
  The God-inspired writer adds “full of wisdom”, to indicate that over the years the wisdom that Jesus had as a man was being perfected. As his body showed a normal growth, so his intellect gradually received all Knowledge. At every age, of course, he had the perfect form of knowledge that no other man had to this degree. But he did not want to make use of his omniscience. He progressed in wisdom through the various experiences he had as a man and not through his divine power (cf. v. 52).
  The word “grace” denotes God’s favour, which comes from his complete satisfaction in the sinless Jesus, his beloved Son.

Πέμπτη, 30 Δεκέμβριος 2021 20:09

d) Jesus’ Circumcision (Lk 2:21)


by Stergios N. Sakkos, University Professor


  After Jesus’ birth (2:1-20) the evangelist recounts some events of his infancy, which had to do with the observance of legal formalities. Jesus wanted to fulfil the Mosaic law precisely, as he explicitly told John the Baptist shortly before his baptism: “for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness.” (Mt 3:15). The apostle Paul explains "... he had to be made like his brethren in every respect" (Heb 2:17). In the letter to Galatians, it is emphasized that the Lord submitted to the law in order to redeem us from its slavery, to free us from its restrictions and its curse, to give us the freedom that befits to God’s children (see Ga 3:13; 4:4-5).

2,21. Καὶ ὅτε ἐπλήσθησαν αἱ ἡμέραι ὀκτὼ τοῦ περιτεμεῖν τὸ παιδίον, καὶ ἐκλήθη τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦς, τὸ κληθὲν ὑπὸ τοῦ ἀγγέλου πρὸ τοῦ συλληφθῆναι αὐτὸν ἐν τῇ κοιλίᾳ.
2:21 And when eight days had passed and the time had come for the circumcising of the child, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Peritomi Kyriou  Jesus was circumcised eight days after his birth (see comments on 1:59). If he had not been circumcised, the Jews would have been able to question his descent from the line of Abraham and would have rejected him as an alien; then it would have been impossible for them to accept that he was the expected Messiah.
  Circumcision was undoubtedly a very humiliating and painful event for Jesus. The humiliation of the manger and the sacrifice of the cross meet in this event. God’s Son, the beloved God’s Son, is circumcised in order to be accepted by Israel! The one who gave us freedom appeared as a slave after the circumcision, a debtor to keep the whole law (see Gal 5:3)! He voluntarily sacrificed a part of himself, foreshadowing his complete offering by his sacrifice on the cross on Calvary.
  After the Lord’s redemptive sacrifice, circumcision, of course, is of no validity or benefit. It is not circumcision that secures salvation, but faith (see Rom 3:30; Gal 5:6-6:15). Moreover, circumcision was given to Abraham as a seal of this faith (see Rom 4:11; Gal 3:6-7). Believers as members of Christ’s Church, bear the Lord’s circumcision on themselves, since they have clothed his circumcised body with the sacrament of Baptism (Gal 3:27). They need, therefore, no other circumcision, but only the circumcision of the heart, that is, the circumcision of the passions (see Col 2:11).
The name “Jesus” was announced by the angel to the Virgin “before he was conceived in the womb”, on the day of the Annunciation (see Lk 1:31) and later to Joseph (Mt 1:21). The conception of Jesus took place on the day of the Annunciation, as I have explained, after the Virgin Mary’s unreserved consent (see Lk 1:38)

Τετάρτη, 15 Δεκέμβριος 2021 19:57

c) The Shepherds’ Worship (Lk 2:8-20)


by Stergios N. Sakkos, University Professor



2,8. Καὶ ποιμένες ἦσαν ἐν τῇ χώρᾳ τῇ αὐτῇ ἀγραυλοῦντες καὶ φυλάσσοντες φυλακὰς τῆς νυκτὸς ἐπὶ τὴν ποίμνην αὐτῶν.
2:8 And there were shepherds abiding out in the field in that region, keeping watch over their flock by night.

  The “country” here is the countryside of Bethlehem. In this area little David used to raise his sheep, to commune with God and sing his songs with the psaltery (harp), praising the divine greatness as he experienced and studied it in nature and in the history of his people. There he was inspired for the sweet and prophetic Psalm 22.
  The verb “ἀγραυλοῦντες” means “keeping out in the fields” i.e., to spend the night in the open air. At that time the night was divided into four shifts (6-9 p.m., 9-12 p.m., 12-3 a.m., 3-6 a.m.), which were called "watches". The shepherds stayed awake to protect their flock from thieves and carnivorous animals. We conclude that Christ was born at night from the fact that the angel appeared to the shepherds during their night shift.
  It has been suggested that Christ was not born on December 25, because it would have been impossible for the shepherds to keep night shifts during the winter. In Judea, however, even in winter the cold was not unbearable.
  The Church was not interested in the exact date of Christ's birth, nor did the apostles take the trouble to find out and record the exact date, because this did not concern the historical reliability of the event. What is certain is that on December 25, the pagans celebrated the sun god with many glorious events. The Church in the West, wishing to stop these celebrations, established the celebration of Christmas. In the 4th century, on the initiative of St. Chrysostom, this custom was transferred to the East. Until then, Christians had celebrated Epiphany, that is, Christ’s coming into the world: his birth, circumcision and baptism all together on the 6th of January.

2,9. Καὶ ἰδοὺ ἄγγελος Κυρίου ἐπέστη αὐτοῖς καὶ δόξα Κυρίου περιέλαμψεν αὐτούς, καὶ ἐφοβήθησαν φόβον μέγαν.
2:9 And suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared in front of them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.

 Gennisi poimenes In the midst of poverty and humiliation that surrounded Christ’s birth, divine glory and splendor appeared. God was humbled and born as a man, but heaven with supernatural signs testified to his divinity; by angels to the pious Jewish shepherds (cf. Lk 2:13) and by the star to the Wise Men of the East, representatives of the Gentiles (cf. Mt 2:2). “Secretly you were born in a cave, but heaven proclaimed you to all”, chants the ecclesiastical poet.
  The sudden appearance of an angel, probably Gabriel (cf. Lk 1:19. 26), is vividly indicated by the evangelist Luke with the introductory “suddenly” and the verb “appeared”. The extraordinary radiance made the supernatural event all the more imposing. This “glory of the Lord”, which shone around them, surrounded them without creating any shadow whatsoever, so as to make it clear that it was a divine light. The shepherds before these amazing signs, as was natural, were in great fear (cf. Lk 1:12. 29).

2,10-12. Καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ὁ ἄγγελος· μὴ φοβεῖσθε· ἰδοὺ γὰρ εὐαγγελίζομαι ὑμῖν χαρὰν μεγάλην, ἥτις ἔσται παντὶ τῷ λαῷ, ὅτι ἐτέχθη ὑμῖν σήμερον σωτήρ, ὅς ἐστι Χριστὸς Κύριος, ἐν πόλει Δαυΐδ. Καὶ τοῦτο ὑμῖν τὸ σημεῖον· εὑρήσετε βρέφος ἐσπαργανωμένον, κείμενον ἐν φάτνῃ.
2:10-12 And the angel said to them, "Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day a Savior, who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger."

  The angel first reassured the shepherds (cf. Lk 1:13. 30), so that they might understand better the joyful message he would announce to them. This message would give great joy “to all the people”, to all the people of Israel who were waiting for the Redeemer, but also to the whole world who were longing for a Saviour. The event which the angel announced, the cause of the great joy, was the Saviour’s birth long awaited by Israel and expected by the Gentiles; “for to you is born this day a Savior”. The time had come for Isaiah's prophecy to be fulfilled; "for unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given” (9:6). The pronoun “you” certainly does not refer only to the shepherds, but includes all the Jewish people and all mankind.
  Of particular interest is the phrase “Christ the Lord”. The prophets, kings and chief priests were called “anointed by the Lord”. Their anointing meant that they were chosen and blessed by God. Jesus was different from all the others anointed by the Lord. He is the preeminent Christ, the expected Messiah (cf. Jn 1:42), but at the same time the Lord Himself, Yahweh. The other anointed ones were anointed by the Holy Spirit; Jesus possessed all the Holy Spirit as his own, since "in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Col 2:9). He would also announce this by applying Isaiah’s prophecy (61:1-2) to himself (see Lk 4:18-19).
  The depth of the divine condescension is truly fathomless! God did not send prophets or angels to save us (see Heb 2:16), because they could not bear the enormous burden of our sins and pay the price of our debt. For our salvation he sent his own only begotten Son to be born as a man like us!
  The expression “in the city of David”, which means Bethlehem, reminded the shepherds of Micah’s prophecy (5:1).
  The angel gave the shepherds a sign, a mark, which would help them to meet and recognize the Savior; “you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger”. They would find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger. The shepherds’ faith was put to the test as the angel’s word clashed with all their expectations of the Messiah. Of course, they would not expect to find him as a poor and weak infant born in a stable.

2,13. Καὶ ἐξαίφνης ἐγένετο σὺν τῷ ἀγγέλῳ πλῆθος στρατιᾶς οὐρανίου αἰνούντων τὸν Θεὸν καὶ λεγόντων.
2:13 And suddenly there with the angel a multitude of a heavenly army was praising God and saying.

  God’s angels are called “a multitude of a heavenly army” (see 1 Kings 22:19). The word "army" indirectly indicates the sovereignty of the newborn infant. It differs, of course, from the other armies that bring war; this one proclaims peace. At the creation of the world, "when the stars were born" (Job 38:7), the angels burst out in praise; how could they remain silent before the miracle of re-creation that took place that night in Bethlehem?

2,14. δόξα ἐν ὑψίστοις Θεῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς εἰρήνη, ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκία.
2:14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

  Briefly and powerfully, the angelic hymn announced that Christ’s birth revealed the glory of the Most High God, brought peace on earth and his good will to mankind.
  “Glory to God in the highest”: The Most high God was revealed to the world with Christ’s birth. The natural creation and the history of the chosen people of Israel had, of course, given evidence of his power, wisdom and greatness (cf. Rom 1:20). But never before had his glory been so displayed as in the cave of Bethlehem, for never before had his love been so expressed. This revelation was in itself God’s glory. As the glory of a diamond is its brilliance, as a king’s glory is his office when it is exercised rightly, so God’s glory is his own appearance.
  “And on earth peace”: By the word "peace" the prophets express all the sublime Messianic good things (see Is 26:12). Lord’s coming to earth signified the return of peace, which was lost when man broke that first covenant with God in paradise. As the Creator revisited his mankind to renew their first agreement, peace returned to earth, not in an abstract sense as a condition, but specifically as a person; "For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility" (Eph 2:14; cf. Is 9:6). Christ became man's essential link with his fellow man, as he united believers as members in his body, in the community of peace, the Church.
  “Good will toward men”: Jesus’ birth revealed the triune God’s "good will", that is, his favor, the amnesty which he bestowed on the apostate man. This is appropriated only by the ones who accept the Lord Jesus Christ as a personal savior.
  The angelic hymn is corresponding to the first three requests of the Sunday prayer (see Mt 6:9-10; Lk 11:2). The glory to the Most High God is the sanctification of his name. Peace dwells on earth when God’s kingdom is established in men’s hearts. Finally, God’s favor is felt when men implement his will. Indeed, through the application of the divine will, having as a prototype God’s beloved Son (cf. Mt 3:17; 17:5; Mk 1:11; Lk 3:22), we become men of divine’s favor, in whom God rests and dwells; only then peace is spread over the earth and Lord’s name is glorified as he makes us, his creatures, partakers of his glory and holiness.

2,15-16. Καὶ ἐγένετο ὡς ἀπῆλθον ἀπ᾿ αὐτῶν εἰς τὸν οὐρανὸν οἱ ἄγγελοι, καὶ οἱ ἄνθρωποι οἱ ποιμένες εἶπον πρὸς ἀλλήλους· διέλθωμεν δὴ ἕως Βηθλεὲμ καὶ ἴδωμεν τὸ ῥῆμα τοῦτο τὸ γεγονός, ὃ ὁ Κύριος ἐγνώρισεν ἡμῖν. Καὶ ἦλθον σπεύσαντες, καὶ ἀνεῦρον τήν τε Μαριὰμ καὶ τὸν Ἰωσὴφ καὶ τὸ βρέφος κείμενον ἐν τῇ φάτνῃ.
2:15-16 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us." And they came with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.

  The great event of Jesus’ birth involves the earth and heaven. The angels of heaven announced the joyful event and praised God. The people of the earth, with complete confidence in the angelic message, decided to go to Bethlehem to see “this thing that has happened”. They believed that what the angel had told them was already a fact. For the meaning of the word "ῥῆμα" in the Bible, see comments on 1:65.
  The joy which the angel’s words caused to the shepherds was manifested in the diligence with which they carried out his command. They hastened to seek the infant, “they came with haste” and succeeded in finding it “lying in the manger”, as the angel had told them (see v. 12).

2,17-18. Ἰδόντες δὲ διεγνώρισαν περὶ τοῦ ῥήματος τοῦ λαληθέντος αὐτοῖς περὶ τοῦ παιδίου τούτου· καὶ πάντες οἱ ἀκούσαντες ἐθαύμασαν περὶ τῶν λαληθέντων ὑπὸ τῶν ποιμένων πρὸς αὐτούς.
2:17-18 And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child; and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.

  The shepherds “made known”, they told in detail what the angel had said to them. Seeing the divine child, they wanted to proclaim to all the joy of salvation (see vv. 10-11).
  The narrative about the angels’ appearance moved the admiration of those who heard it; “all who heard it wondered”. But it was not known beyond the boundaries of Bethlehem. The people of Jerusalem were informed of Jesus’ birth by the Wise Men much later and were disturbed (see Mt 2:3).

2,19. Ἡ δὲ Μαριὰμ πάντα συνετήρει τὰ ῥήματα ταῦτα συμβάλλουσα ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ αὐτῆς.
2:19 But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.

  The virgin Mary treasured up in her heart what the shepherds told her and “pondering them” (cf. Lk 2:51), she kept them all in secret, “συμβάλλουσα”, comparing the events they told her with the revelations she had received up to that time. When the time came, the virgin told the evangelist Luke in detail and with simplicity all that she had “kept”. That is why he gives the fullest description of the events of the birth in his Gospel. Even the calm style and the soft tone of the narration support the assumption that he had heard it from the holy mother’s mouth. The evangelist faithfully recorded God’s Mother plain narrative without any additions.

2,20. Καὶ ὑπέστρεψαν οἱ ποιμένες δοξάζοντες καὶ αἰνοῦντες τὸν Θεὸν ἐπὶ πᾶσιν οἷς ἤκουσαν καὶ εἶδον καθὼς ἐλαλήθη πρὸς αὐτούς.
2:20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

  The shepherds returned again to their daily life. But they did not fail to praise God for what they had heard from the angels and seen fulfilled in the manger where they worshipped the divine child.

Τρίτη, 07 Δεκέμβριος 2021 13:12



Μέ τό φῶς τῆς Βηθλεέμ

Στεργίου Σάκκου

  «Μέ τά θεόπνευστα κείμενα, τήν κατανυκτική ὑμνολογία, μέ τήν θεία λατρεία καί μάλιστα μέ τά ἱερά μυστήριά της ἡ Ἐκκλησία μᾶς παίρνει ἀπό τό χέρι καί μᾶς ὁδηγεῖ στό σπήλαιο τῆς Βηθλεέμ. Μᾶς πείθει ὅτι τό “παιδίον νέον”, πού μᾶς περιμένει ἐκεῖ, ἔχει παρελθόν, παρόν καί μέλλον. Εἶναι ὁ πο­θού­μενος καί νοσταλγούμενος, ὁ ἀναμενόμενος καί προσδοκώμενος, ὄχι μόνο ἀπό τίς γενιές τοῦ Ἰσραήλ ὅπου θαμπόφεγγε ἡ μορφή του μέσα ἀπό τό προφητικό φῶς, ἀλλά καί ἀπό τά πλήθη τῶν ἐθνῶν, πού σ᾽ αὐτή τήν προσδοκία ξαπόσταιναν. Μᾶς δείχνει πώς αὐτός πού γεννιέται εἶναι, ὅπως τό λέει τό ὄνομά του, ὁ ᾽Ιησοῦς, ὁ σωτήρας Θεός, ὁ μόνος πού χαρίζει τήν σωτηρία. Εἶ­ναι ὅμως καί ὁ Ἐμμανουήλ, ὁ “μεθ᾽ ἡμῶν Θε­ός”, πού μᾶς συντροφεύει στήν μοναξιά τῆς ζωῆς μας.
  Δέν λείπουν οἱ ἀποδείξεις, γιά νά πεισθεῖ κανείς γι᾽ αὐτά τά μεγάλα μαθήματα τῆς ἁγίας μας Ἐκκλησίας. Ἀπαιτεῖται ὅμως ἡ βαθύτερη διάθεση, γιά νά γίνει ἡ γνώση ζωή, βίωμα» (σελ. 12-13).

 Αὐτή τή διάθεση καλλιεργεῖ στόν ἀναγνώστη τό νέο βιβλίο:  «Μέ τό φῶς τῆς Βηθλεέμ»

 Περιέχει κείμενα τοῦ μακαριστοῦ διδασκάλου τῆς Ἀδελφότητός μας Στεργίου Σάκκου.

Τρίτη, 07 Δεκέμβριος 2021 13:02


Ἑλένης Βασιλείου

 17 χριστουγεννιάτικα καί 16 πρωτοχρονιάτικα διηγήματα, σελίδες 192.