Today is a very special day in the hagiography of the Orthodox Church for this day, January 17, is dedicated to the memory of St. Anthony the Great, the founder of Egyptian monasticism. St. Anthony viewed monastic life as a life centered on Christ and on such evangelical virtues as prayer, poverty, simplicity, chastity, humility, vigilant warfare against demons, fasting and love.
This Sunday, the Sunday following the Great Feast of Theophany, speaks to us in the gospel of St. Matthew Chapter 4 Verses 12-17 about the beginning of Jesus’ work and ministry in Galilee, that it was like a great light that began to shine on all. After all this, Theophany is the Feast of Lights. This is the fulfillment of the prophecy when Jesus went to the lands of Zebulun and Naphtali to begin his earthly ministry to the people who lived in darkness, but saw a great light! “Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand”.
This Sunday January 3, 2021 is called the Sunday Before the Feast of Theophany. The main theme of this Sunday is taken from the Gospel of St. Mark Chapter 1 verses 1 thru 8, which speaks to us in anticipation of the call (preparation) for a new beginning. The Evangelist Mark relates the adult life of Jesus, beginning with His Baptism in the River Jordan, as the gospel of good news of the salvation of mankind through Jesus Christ.
As we are about to celebrate the ringing in of the Civil New Year 2021 on January 1, we are reminded of the good news of the many instances of Christ’s life throughout the year. With the Feast of the Nativity of Christ (December 25), we now turn our attention to other events in his earthly life including his circumcision January 1st and shortly thereafter his baptism in the river Jordan.
This Sunday gospel tells us of the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt, the killing of the innocents in Bethlehem by Herod and Christ’s return to Nazareth. This Sunday is also dedicated to the memory of three ancestors of Christ, David the King, St. Joseph the Betrothed. his earthly father and St. Janes the Apostle, his brother.
Dearly Beloved in the Lord, Christmas is preeminently a feast of joy. In the radiant faces of our children and grandchildren, in the sparkle of their eyes, in the exchanges of gifts and greetings, in the warm and melodious sounds of Christmas carols, we see a glimpse of humanity’s deepest longings for joy, peace, sharing, unity, health, love and celebration.
On this Sunday December 20, 2020, we commemorate the human ancestors of Jesus, from Adam to Joseph who are all part of the genealogy of Jesus according to the Gospels. This gospel particularly draws our attention to the historical genealogy, and thereby, creates in us a feeling of expectation for Christ’s birth – as the fulfillment of humanity’s hopes.
Today December 13th is also the commemoration of the blessed repose of our heavenly patron Saint, Herman of Alaska, the Wonder-worker of America, of who our church is named. This is especially a joyous day for we in our supplications today entreat our beloved, Apa (Father) to intercede to Almighty God on our behalf, especially during the pandemic and its devastating effect on our world.