[IN ANTICIPATION OF THE FEAST]
HOMILY ON THE MEETING OF THE LORD
Delivered by His Grace Bishop Atanasije (Jevtic), 1995 in Pozarevac
Today we celebrate a great Feast, the Meeting of the Lord in the Temple, we celerate a joyous event of the Meeting of Heaven and earth, the timeless and the transient, God and man, in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the Jerusalem Temple the newly born Savior was taken into the arms of the Righteous elder Simeon, who, having received a Divine promise that he would not die until he sees with his own eyes the Savior and Messiah, gave thanks to the Lord at that very moment for fulfiling that promise by saying: „Now you are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word, for my eyes have seen Your salvation...“. Receiving and taking into his elderly hands the Savior of the world, the righteous Elder recognized also in his prophetic vision the full history of what would be with Christ, and all of those who follow Him, and that is why He says to the Most Holy Theotokos: „Behold this Child is destined for the fall and rising, and for a sign which will be spoke against and many will stand against,“ but they will not be able to prevail, for in Him the thoughts of the hearts of many will be revealed.
Christ gives account for the thoughts of man, thus He is not only our joy, but also our judgment. Many of the Saints rejoiced in appearing before the face of Christ, and prayed: „Lord, cleanse me, have mercy on me, renew me, for if I appear unprepared before You, it will be most dreadful for me, if You only turn Your face from me.“
Many today wish to encounter Christ. This is noticed all the more among our people, it is evident and felt. After half a century of slavery unles godlessness, we seek after the face of the Living God – and those who didn't know Him, and those who didn't feel Him, but they anticipated Him in the depths of their being. Whenever we seek after something great, good, lasting, true, righteous, humanly, beautiful, holy, then we seek after the Face of God, we seek Christ – the Image of the Invisible God. Our people today are in this search. However, the noise of those same godless ones who in the past banned Christ, can be heard after this awakening and renewing of the people. On the other hand, the assault from our enemies and false Christians from the West, as well as the false religions from the East, so that our people find themselves in a position which St. Simeon foretold the Most Holy Theotokos: that a sword will pierce her heart, but that is how the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.
Our people today are being examined just as St. Simeon was when he encounterd Christ. The thoughts and feelings of all of our hearts are being revealed. Some rush to escape, while others rush to defend themselves with words, statements, decisions on paper, and so they think to suffocate the thoughts and feelings of their hearts which God knows. Others, true Orthodox Serbs, battle for the good of their fellow man created in God's image, and for a better image and light among their people, that the light of the Meeting of the Lord which shone on those who sat in darkness, that it appear to us the glory of the Salvation of the Lord, which St. Simeon in his praise to Christ speaks of today.
On today's Feast of the Meeting of the Lord, when the heavens meet the earth, God meets man, history meets eternity, when - as our people beautifully say – spring and winter meet, may we also open our hearts for an encounter with the Lord. He is there, knocking on everyone's doors, „Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him,“ says the Lord (Rev. 3:20). May we open the doors of our beings, our hearts, that we never close them, how our old, trite, weathered beings would be renewed – our souls and bodies – and rejoice at the meeting with the Lord, the Meeting of the Lord, who comes to us in the arms of the Most Holy Theotokos, that He might take all of us in His eternal bosom. For He is eternally in the bosom of the Father, and there has He prepared us a place.
Open your hearts, listen to the depths of your thoughts, desires, feelings, anticipations, nostalgias, yearnings, the pursuits of your hearts. For our hearts are created in the image of God and they yearn for God; the truth is often buried in passions, desires, appetites, ambitions, prejudices. Let us free ourselves of them and meet the Lord, for He always comes to meet us. He is the One who came, who is with us, Who always comes to be with us.
I wish a happy feast especially to our little children, who celebrate not only Christmas, when God became a Little Child, but also the Meeting, when the Lord was received as a Child from the hands of man so that He could receive man into everlasting life in the Heavenly Kingdom. Pray to God for those children that suffer, who are orphans, who are wounded, who are refugees. There are plenty of them, not only in Serbian lands, in the South, in Kosovo and in the Western lands, in Krajina, but also in Cyprus, Georgia, the Middle East and elsewhere.
Do you know how many of our children suffer in the West, when they are mocked, when in schools they are ridiculed, because they are Serbian, because they are Orthodox, saying that even God has turned His back to us and will judge us. But let that not worry us or cause us to stumblee, for our pursuit, yearning and anticipation from the depths of our hearts is to seek out the Face of the Living God and to appear before Him that He judge us. For it is better that He judges us than people.
A happy feast to all of you who, with your donations, help the crucified and suffering people in the Serbian lands and Krajinas, and may the Lord reward you with joy and celebration in life eternal in God's Kingdom. Amen.