Malankara World Journal
Malankara World Journal

Volume 2 No. 51 February 1, 2012

Ma'altho (Presentation of Jesus) Special

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Infant Jesus Presented in Temple
Infant Jesus in Temple
Table of Contents
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1. Editor's Note

2. Bible Readings for Ma'altho

3. Sermons for Ma'altho
24 sermons, bible commentaries, homilies and Gospel analyses in Malankara World based on today's Gospel reading.

4. Inspiration for Today-Simeon's Song
The church historically knows this psalm as the Nunc Dimittus, the Latin translations of the first two words, 'Now dismiss....'

5. Featured: Simeon and Anna - Gospel Analysis by Edward F. Markquart
Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, "This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too." Simeon had a specific word or prophecy for the mother, Mary. Simeon wanted Mary to know that her baby Jesus would grow up to be a sign that will be opposed by many in Israel.

6. The Lord Has Come! The Song of Simeon by Marvin A. McMickle
What kind of faith does it take to see through the exterior appearance of a person, and to see beyond the social class into which they were born, and to recognize within them that spark placed there by nothing less than the hand of God himself? How many other people must have been in the Temple that day, and yet when Simeon spoke there is no record that the others who were there, the priests, the Pharisees, the other worshipers stopped what they were doing and came to worship the child that Simeon had just declared to be the long-awaited Messiah.

7. Why did Jesus Christ come?
Jesus came to help people with a past put that past behind them. Salvation is rescue from the past. You can't do this on your own. You need a Savior. What is for certain about the past? Jesus rescues you from your bondage to past sin.

8. Seeking the Savior by Max Lucado
One Incredible Savior: Don’t be satisfied with angels. Don’t be content with stars in the sky. Seek him out as the shepherds did. Long for him as Simeon did. Worship him as the wise men did….Risk whatever it takes to see Christ.

9. About Malankara World

Editor's Note
When we thought that the Christmas was all over and Jesus was well into his public ministry, here comes another feast related to the early childhood of Jesus Christ. February 2 is celebrated as Ma'altho (Mayaltho - Presentation of Jesus at the Temple). Jewish custom required that all the firstborn sons be brought into the temple on the 40th day. This is also the time for purification.

This feast is very important for the church and so it is celebrated on the actual date (February 2 - 40 days after December 25) similar to Annunciation, for example, that is always celebrated on March 25. We have provided comprehensive coverage for this feast in our Sermons/Commentaries section in Malankara World where you can read different perspectives on the importance of this festival. Let me summarize the key points here:

1. Jesus was brought up as an young Jew following all the rules, commandments and Mosaic Laws. He was circumcised when he was 8 days old according to the Abrahamic Covenant. He was named Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Jesus was taken to the temple when he was 40 days old for the prescribed purification (Ex. 13:2, 12). They offered a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law, "a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons."

Thus, Jesus showed his full humanity when he was a child following all the things a human child will undergo, as prescribed in the law.

2. Jesus was raised by two average, ordinary people, Joseph and Mary. They were very poor. He was an ordinary child when he was young. This, of course, follows the theme of bible, 'God uses ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things.'

3. During the purification ceremony, we see the first public testament to the divinity of Jesus (after the angelic and wise men's testimony when Jesus was born). Two elderly saints, Simeon and Anna, testified the baby as the long-awaited Messiah. Torah required that multiple witnesses are required to provide legitimacy to a testament:

"A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established. " Deut. 19:15

Luke points out that, indeed, two witnesses testified to the Messianic status of Jesus. These witnesses were godly, faithful people. They were part of remnant Israel, those waiting for God's Messiah. No one could challenge the dedication and spirituality of Simeon and Anna.

4. Today's Gospel reading also brings to light an important quality God expects us to have. That is the virtue of patience. Simeon and Anna waited many years to see the face of the savior. Their wait paid off. Good things await those who wait patiently. When Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to the temple, they were just two ordinary people bringing an ordinary child, from all external appearances. There were virtually hundreds of people at the Temple mount offering sacrifices and worshipping at that time. None of them saw anything special about Jesus. But Simeon and Anna recognized Jesus immediately. It was the work of the Holy Spirit, a reward for their unquestionable faith and patience.

We go to church every Sunday. We participate in Qurbana (some people watch and some people take part.). Do we see just bread and wine or do we see the Body and Blood of our savior in the Holy Mysteries? For those who patiently prays and waits like Simeon and Anna, good things happen.

We soon will embark on the Big Lent and participate in the Crucifixion, Death, Burial and Resurrection of our savior. Reflect on the meanings of sacraments and liturgy. May be we can also sing with Simeon, "Nunc Dimittus:"

"Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word."

This Sunday in Church
Bible Readings for Ma'altho

Mayaltho (Entry of our Lord into the temple)

February 2nd is celebrated as the day when infant Jesus was presented in the temple.  Also called the day of the old aged. Feast of St. Simon and St. Hanna.

Evening

  • St. Luke 2: 22- 40

Morning

  • St. Luke 2:22-40

Before Holy Qurbana

  • Leviticus 12: 1-8, 19: 30 -37
  • Proverbs 6 : 20 - 24 , 23 : 22 -26
  • Isaiah 11: 1 - 10

Holy Qurbana

  • Acts 24:10-23
  • Ephesians 3: 13-21 6: 1-4 .
  • St. Luke 2: 22 -40

Lectionary of the Syrian Orthodox Church
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Lectionary/Lec_Koodosh-eetho-to-Kothne.htm

Sermons for Ma'altho
We have 24 sermons, homilies, bible commentaries and Gospel analyses on Ma'alto in Malankara World. This includes some classic sermons. These were carefully selected to provide you a balanced perspective. They examine the Gospel from different angles. Read and meditate here:
Sermons, Bible Commentaries and Bible Analyses for Mayaltho

http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_Mayaltho.htm

More Sermons

Features

Inspiration for Today - Simeon's Song

Nunc Dimittus - Simeon's Song (Luke 2:29-32)

Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:

For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,

Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;

A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

------------

[Editor's Note: The church historically knows this psalm as the Nunc Dimittus, the Latin translations of the first two words, "Now dismiss...." Since as early as the 4th century believers have sung with Simeon:
"Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word."

To learn more about Simeon's Song, we recommend an excellent sermon by CH Spurgeon titled 'Nunc Dimittis' (1871). You can it in Malankara World.

http://www.Malankaraworld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermons_Mayaltho-Luke-2-29-30-Spurgeon.htm ]

Featured: Simeon and Anna

CIRCUMCISION AND PRESENTATION OF JESUS IN THE TEMPLE

by Edward F. Markquart, Seattle

Gospel Analysis: Luke 2:21-38

-After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; Circumcism was the cutting of the foreskin on the male penis. It was a Jewish ritual to be a sign of a covenant/contract between God and the person being circumcised. This ritual had its origins in Genesis 17: "God said to Abraham, ‘As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. Throughout your generations every male among you shall be circumcised when he is eight days old."

-And he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. The day on which the baby was circumcised was also the "naming day." On this day, the baby received his/her name.

‘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 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord").

-And they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons." That Mary and Joseph gave two doves and two young pigeons instead of a lamb indicates that they were poor people.

-Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel,

-And the Holy Spirit rested on him. Circle the words, "Holy Spirit." The word, "Spirit," occurs three times in these sentences. Luke wants the Holy Spirit to rest on our lives as well.

-It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; The Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon that he would see the Messiah before he died. The Holy Spirit guided him into the temple. Luke wants our lives to be guided by the Holy Spirit as well.

Simeon came into the temple, looking for the Messiah. We will study the temple building later in the course when we study Jesus’ teachings in the temple courtyard in Jerusalem.

-And when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying, All children went through rituals of purification. Mothers waited forty days after the birth of a boy to go to the temple or synagogue to be declared pure by the priest. Mothers waited eighty days if they gave birth to a girl. Boy babies were preferred over girl babies in the patriarchal society of that day.

-"Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel." Now that Simeon had seen the Messiah, he was ready to die in peace. Old Simeon confesses that this child will be a light of revelation for the Gentiles and also the glorious Presence of God (the Shekinah) for the Jews.

-And the child's father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Both parents were amazed at what was being said about their baby.

-Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, "This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too." Simeon had a specific word or prophecy for the mother, Mary. Simeon wanted Mary to know that her baby Jesus would grow up to be a sign that will be opposed by many in Israel. That prophecy came true. Jesus faced intense opposition from the Jewish leadership who wanted to kill him. Simeon also wanted Mary the mother to know that a "sword will pierce your own soul too." That prophecy also came true. Mary experienced the deepest of agony as she watched her son tortured and killed on the cross.

-There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. Anna was an old prophet of the tribe of Asher. She had lived a long time as a widow after the death of her husband. As a prophet, her special gift was to see into the future.

-She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. The old prophetess Anna spoke favorably about Jesus, that Jesus would be the one to redeem Israel.

Companion Sermon for this Gospel Analysis

The Lord Has Come! The Song of Simeon

by Marvin A. McMickle

Scripture: Luke 2:25-33

Sometimes you encounter those moments when you do not mind waiting for what you want.

This principle of waiting for what you want is of crucial importance in multiple areas of our lives. More often than not, the things we want the most will not be ready for us at precisely the moment that we are ready for them, and we will have to learn how to wait. When you take a prescription to the pharmacist, how often do they just reach on a shelf and, without having to wait or to come back later, give you what your doctor has ordered for you and send you on your way with your medicine in hand? Almost always we have to drop it off and pick it up later.

There is only one thing necessary in order for people to develop the ability to wait for what they want, and that is the belief that what they want really is going to come sooner or later. It is not hard to wait for 10 minutes for food that you know is already cooking in the oven. It is hard, but not impossible, to wait for a bus that you know is on the way. Now just imagine what it is like to be asked to wait for something that had been promised to you years before, something that you were told you would receive before you died. But now you are old and you think that your time is running out. Would you still be able to wait patiently?

That is the question that confronted a man named Simeon whose experience with Jesus is recorded in Luke 2. Simeon is described as ".... a just and devout man who was waiting for the consolation of Israel." This means that Simeon was waiting for the day when the Messiah would come and restore the nation of Israel to a prominence and prosperity it had not known since the days of David and Solomon almost one thousand years earlier. Simeon was still waiting for something that God had promised to Israel through the ancient prophets. Isaiah had spoken of it when he said, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulders, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6). Isaiah also spoke about the circumstances that would be involved in the birth of that child when he said, "The Lord himself shall give you a sign. A virgin shall conceive and bear a child (Isaiah 7:14). Micah had spoken about it when he said, "But thou Bethlehem, though thou art the least among the tribes of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth who shall be ruler in Israel" (Micah 5:2). Both Isaiah and Micah spoke their words around 750 B.C. Needless to say, many in Israel had long since given up any hope that God was going to keep those promises about a ruler for Israel being born of a virgin girl in the city of Bethlehem. Yet, not after ten minutes or thirty minutes, or ten years or thirty years, but after hundreds of years of waiting for a promise long delayed in being fulfilled this just and devout man named Simeon was still waiting for the consolation of Israel. He still believed that God was going to keep his promise.

In our text for today, Simeon, who is now well advanced in years, is present in the Temple in Jerusalem when Mary and Joseph bring Jesus in on the 8th day of His life to be circumcised according to Jewish law. By the power of the Holy Spirit, Simeon is made to know that this child, out of all the children, the thousands of children who had come to that temple to be circumcised during his years there, was the child that God had been promising Israel, and for which Israel had been waiting for all those hundreds of years. God told Simeon that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah with his own eyes, and now that promise has been kept. The waiting has come to an end. God has proven himself to be faithful. The promises of Isaiah have been fulfilled, in that the Prince of Peace was born, and He was born from a virgin's womb. The promise of Micah was fulfilled, in that this child was born in Bethlehem just as the prophet had said. Joy to the world, the Lord has come at last.

Let us listen to the song of Simeon more carefully and understand what he was saying in this passage. Simeon declared he could die in peace, because he had seen the Savior with his own eyes. Bear in mind that what Simeon had seen was a baby born of parents he did not know personally, who entered the world under the most obscure conditions, not only being born in Bethlehem which was a tiny village in the tiny nation of Israel, but worse yet, being born on the outskirts of nowhere In a stable surrounded by ox and donkeys and sheep.

What kind of faith does it take to see through the exterior appearance of a person, and to see beyond the social class into which they were born, and to recognize within them that spark placed there by nothing less than the hand of God himself? How many other people must have been in the Temple that day, and yet when Simeon spoke there is no record that the others who were there, the priests, the Pharisees, the other worshipers stopped what they were doing and came to worship the child that Simeon had just declared to be the long-awaited Messiah. In fact, it seems as if even Mary and Joseph were not sure what to think about the words that Simeon had just spoken. The Bible says ".... they marveled at the words that were spoken concerning him." Simeon, who had been waiting for a savior, could recognize divinity in the baby he held in his arms.

This is the first challenge for all of us who are followers of Jesus, to recognize in the man named Jesus the divinity that leads us to call him Christ.

Why do you call this man the Christ? More interesting, perhaps, is the question of why everybody does not see in him what you and I have seen in Jesus. There is nothing of this world that distinguishes Jesus above any other man who ever lived and walked upon this earth. He possessed no special educational credential. He could claim no great wealth or family prestige. There was nothing about him, according to the values of this world, that made Jesus stand out. Yet, within thirty years of his birth thousands of people followed him wherever he went, hanging on his every word. And within thirty years of his death, tens of thousands from all over the Mediterranean world gladly defied the power of the Roman empire and risked the loss of their own lives just to declare that they believed that Jesus was the Christ.

This is the first, and the greatest act of faith shown by Simeon, he recognized that the baby in his arms would become the savior of the world. This is a greater act of faith than that shown by anyone else in the Bible. Nicodemus did not come to Jesus and say that he was a teacher sent from God until after he had seen the great works that Jesus had done as a grown man. Peter did not speak up and say that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God until very near the end of Jesus' ministry. The centurion soldier did not say, "... surely this man was the son of God" until after Jesus was already dead. Yet, here is Simeon not looking at a man who has just fed five thousand people with two fish and five loaves of bread, and not looking at a man who has just raised Lazarus from the dead, and not looking at a man who while hanging from a cruel cross asks his father in heaven to forgive those who placed him there. Instead, Simeon is holding an eight day old baby in his arms and declares that baby to be the Messiah for whom all Israel had been waiting. The Holy Spirit revealed it and Simeon believed it, namely that the Lord is come.

Simeon could die in peace, because the work of God was in process even if it had not yet come to completion. It would take another thirty years before Jesus would begin the work for which he had come into the world. Simeon would not be alive to see that ministry unfold, but he could die in peace just knowing that the work of salvation was now underway. Here he demonstrates another kind of patience which is born of the realization that very few things in life are completed immediately after they have begun. Usually there is some considerable time and great effort between the beginning and the end of some undertaking.

The founders of this nation declared themselves to be independent from Great Britain on July 4, 1776, but it took another five years and a terrible war before they could conclude what they had begun on that hot day in Philadelphia. Recently, a new chairman of the African national Congress in South Africa was elected. In all likelihood, he will also succeed Nelson Mandela as the next President of that country. The first thing he said upon his election was that the battle against the affects of apartheid goes on. That battle began in the 1940s, and Mandela went to prison for his activities in the 1960s. Yet, after all of those decades the poverty and despair caused by apartheid continues even though the laws of apartheid have been repealed. What the black people of South Africa understand is that very few things begin and end on the same day. It takes a great deal of time, and thus a great deal of patience, to accomplish great things. The old adage says "Rome wasn't built in a day", and very little else of any consequence can be resolved quickly.

This is the second mark of a patient person, that they are able to see things get underway and then patiently wait for things to be resolved. Simeon saw Jesus at the beginning of his life and was able to believe that while nothing had been completed, something powerful was now in process and he was able to die in peace knowing without a doubt that God would bring things to completion some day. The Lord is come.

I am glad that God does not demand that things begin and end on the same day, because if He did then I would never see the inside of the city of Heaven. I am glad that God works on us over time and lets us grow and develop into the kind of persons He wants us to be. I wish we could be as patient with each other as God is with each one of us. I am always intrigued by signs posted near construction sites that say such things as "pardon my dust" or "work in progress" or "temporary inconvenience but a long term improvement". The point of those signs is to remind us that we should not judge that building site by what we see at that moment. Instead, we should know that something is going on there that is not yet finished, but is a work in progress.

God is still working on our lives. Every time we study the Bible God is at work on our building. Every time we pause to whisper or speak a prayer God is working on the building. Every time we stand to worship and praise his name God is working on the building. Every time we walk through a storm believing that God will see us through, God is working on the building. I may not be all that I should be as a Christian, but that's because my life is a construction site and God is still working on my building. Please be patient with me, God is not through with me yet. But when God gets through with me I shall come forth as pure gold.

There is an analogy for how God works on our lives in ways that are not immediately visible to the eye. Consider how the tulip comes to bloom. In the spring the flower stands tall and beautiful for all to see. But the day when the blossom appears in the end of a much longer process that is already underway now, in the middle of winter. Right now, while snow is on the ground, the tulip bulb is beneath the ground germinating. Right now, while the ground is frozen, roots are stretching down into the earth establishing a firm foundation upon which the flowers will eventually stand. Right now, while it appears to the naked eye that nothing is happening, God is already at work bringing forth life. We cannot speed up the process. We can make the roots grow down or the stem shoot up one moment earlier. What we can do is simply know that God is at work in ways we cannot now see, and be assured that when the time is right he will bring things to completion.

That was the faith of Simeon. He knew at the beginning of the process that by the time God brought things to completion salvation would be the result. He knew that the baby of Bethlehem would become the Christ of Calvary. He knew that the child who came into the world the first time wrapped in swaddling clothes would come back again as the king of creation wrapped in the robes of royalty. Simeon knew that things do not begin and end at the same time, and that what God was beginning in the infant he held in his arms at that moment would be completed at some point down the road. Would to God that we too can have faith enough to believe that God is and will work all things out in the end. As Paul says in Romans 8, all things will work together for good. This must be our faith!

[Editor's Note: Excerpted from a Sermon by Marvin A. McMickle. Source: Preaching.com]

Why did Jesus Christ come?

The historian Luke records the declaratory statement of the angel to the shepherds in Luke 2:10-11: "'Do not be afraid; for see — I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord.'"

The word savior literally means "rescuer." So why did Jesus come? Jesus came to give you salvation. He came to rescue you.

It is important to realize this salvation, this rescue, has individual and corporate implications. Let us look at this rescue, this salvation, in a three-step, time progressional perspective.

First, Jesus came to give you salvation (rescue) from an old style of life — an END.

Jesus came to help people with a past put that past behind them. Salvation is rescue from the past. You can't do this on your own. You need a Savior. What is for certain about the past?

Jesus rescues you from your bondage to past sin.

The fact is that none of us is perfect. All of us have sinned. The Bible tells us that there is no way in which we can atone for our own sins. We need a Savior. God became a human being in the person of Jesus Christ to die for your and my sins. If we repent of sin, confess our need, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us of all iniquity. The Bible uses a most graphic description when it declares, "As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us."

Jesus also rescues you from a meaningless existence.

Source: Preaching Daily

Seeking the Savior

by Max Lucado

Simeon [said], "Can I stay alive until I see him?"

The Magi [said], "Saddle up the camels. We aren’t stopping until we find him."

The shepherds [said], "Let’s go…. Let’s see."

They wanted the Savior. They wanted to see Jesus.

They were earnest in their search. One translation renders Hebrews 11:6: "God … rewards those who earnestly seek him" (NIV).

Another reads: "God rewards those who search for him" (Phillips).

And another: "God … rewards those who sincerely look for him" (TLB).

I like the King James translation: "He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him".

Diligently—what a great word. Be diligent in your search. Be hungry in your quest, relentless in your pilgrimage. Let this be but one of dozens you read about Jesus and this hour be but one of hundreds in which you seek him. Step away from the puny pursuits of possessions and positions, and seek your king.

One Incredible Savior

Don’t be satisfied with angels. Don’t be content with stars in the sky. Seek him out as the shepherds did. Long for him as Simeon did. Worship him as the wise men did….Risk whatever it takes to see Christ.

God rewards those who seek him. Not those who seek doctrine or religion or systems or creeds. Many settle for these lesser passions, but the reward goes to those who settle for nothing less than Jesus himself.

[Excerpted from 'One Incredible Savior: Celebrating the Majesty of the Manger' by Max Lucado; Copyright (Thomas Nelson, 2011)]

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