Friday, February 3, 2012

Excerpt from the homily on Meeting of Christ in the Temple, by St. Amphilochius of Iconium

Excerpt from the homily on Meeting of Christ in the Temple, by St. Amphilochius of Iconium (amateur translation)
Wondrous therefore is virginity, true virginity, because there are differences within virginity; while some sleep and some are vigilant. Wondrous also is marriage, true and precious marriage. Many have kept it and many have violated it. Wondrous also is widowhood. Therefore, all three ranks should be commended. And, as we said, wondrous is also is widowhood, true widowhood, “winning the reward of undefiled conflicts” (Wisdom of Solomon 4:2). I see this richly demonstrated in Anna the prophetess, who aged well and was renewed like the eagle (Psalm 103:5). Do you hear the evangelist Luke richly say: “And Anna was a prophetess, a daughter of Phanuel, from the tribe of Asher, advanced in years, having lived after her husband seven years from her virginity, and as a widow till she was eighty-four, and worshpped in the temple in fasting and prayers night and day.” (Luke 2). Do you see how the widow Anna is adorned in the divine Gospels? Truly higher is Anna, having gathered through her glorious ways, the meaning of her name. Let women hear and be jealous of the glorious Anna. She ran the same race, that she might inherit the same crowns...The crown of widows is Anna; she bears the form of a woman, but the rank of a prophet. She lived in widowhood, being supported in the kingdom. She was withered in body, but was strengthened in soul. She was fearsome in appearance, but immense in spirit. She was hunched-over in age, but stood straight in knowledge. She was many-years old, with the seal of knowledge of God. She fasted, and did not consume others. She was in need, but did not wander about. She was concerned with the temple, and did not hasten to other houses. She chanted, but did not wail. She prophesied, not spinning myths. She studied the divine, and did not gather with the impure. Anna surpassed the widow that was that was blessed by the apostle. Which? Hear Paul who says: “A widow is to be put on the list only if she is not less than sixty years well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord’s people” (1 Timothy 5). She surpassed that which was praised by the apostle in her years and way of life, for she was made worthy of prophecy, and was a dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit, and to all those who approached her, she told of the symbols of Christ's bodily presence. And did she not surpass all that the evangelist said of her, and that you have heard at length? And it was this Anna, who was standing and speaking anthems to the Lord and speaking to all those who came to her of the deliverance of Jerusalem. Do you see the greatness of Anna? On behalf of the Lord, she defends Him to those who were against Him. O the strangeness of things! …
Anna beholds the Lord as an infant, with gifts and purification on behalf of Him and with Him offered, and she did not disdain His young age, but Anna confessed the infant as God, Physician, Deliverer, Mighty One, Remover of sin. Anna did not simply hold to these words, but she offered to all with energy regarding the Lord, and said to those who had gathered: "Do you see this child clinging to the breast, holding to the woman, resting in the arms of His mother, while her betrothed sits alone, He Who was circumcised on the eighth day? Don't you see this child? He founded the ages, He stretched out the heavens, He widened the earth, He traced the sea with sand. This Child calls forth clouds from His treasury. This Child, at the time of Noah, opened the doors of heaven for the flood...This Child works fearsome thunder. This Child spins the snow like wool. This Child freed our forefathers from Egypt through the rod of Moses. This Child divided the Red Sea, and through His strength brought them out, and rained down manna in the desert, and gave as inheritance milk and honey. This Child, through this temple and the fathers, prepared to raise us to the heights. This Child promised to Abraham: 'I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, as the sand by the sea.' Regarding this Child, the prophetic supplication offered: 'Lord, stir up Your power, and come to save us' (Psalms 80:2). Do not disdain the Child, that He is a child. This very Child is beginningless with the Father, He shares His years, He is also beyond the ages, and this Child with a lisp, is He Who grants a mouth and wisdom. His birth was from a virgin, and thus His existence is astonishing. Because of thus, Isaiah spoke of You: 'A Child is born to us, a son is given to us.' To one He was born, to the other He is given. To one He is seen, to the other He is perceived." These are the prophecies of Anna...
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

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