On the 21st day of the month of November we celebrate the bringing to the temple of Jerusalem of the Virgin Mary. The dismissal hymn sung at the Vespers and Matins reveals the significance of this feast: “Today is the prelude of God’s generosity, the herald of the coming of salvation for all mankind. In the temple of God the Virgin is revealed to all, her presence foretelling the coming of Christ. With all our hearts, let us, therefore cry out to her: Rejoice, O Fulfillment of the Creator’s plan.”
This is the forefeast of the Annunciation of the Incarnation of the Savior of the world. The bringing of the Virgin to the temple shows us, before its fulfillment, the Annunciation, the good will of God towards His creation. This act of the holy parents Joachim and Anna, of offering the Holy Virgin for service to the Temple reveals to us the fulfillment of the plan of the Creator to redeem the human race.
Let us remember that Joachim and Anna were God-fearing people who respected the guidance of the Old Law, but did not have children, which according to the beliefs of the Judean people, meant that God did not look favorably upon their family. God chose these righteous and faithful people to be “the prelude of God’s generosity” because they had promised that should God bless them with a child, they would offer this child for service to the Temple, for service to God. Through the fulfillment of this promise, not only was the blessing of God poured upon them, but the gift which they received from God became a gift to the entire creation. God had turned His face toward them, but also toward the entire humanity.
The Entrance of the Mother of God in the Temple is the feast which heralds the benevolence of God, but also of the faithfulness of Joachim and Anna, who kept their covenant with God. Their faithfulness to God has brought them grace upon grace. Although they were advanced in age, they continued to pray for child. They continued to believe that their prayer would be heard and that matters which are impossible to man are possible to God. They believed that only God could change the purpose of their life, and He could bring the blessing for which they wished their entire life. And they were thankful for the gift received from God.
It is appropriate for all those who are faithful to be thankful; all of us who believe in God the Creator, Protector, and Savior. It is appropriate to be thankful at this time when we prepare for the national holiday of Thanksgiving. It is appropriate to set aside for ourselves a moment of reflection and thanksgiving. Reflect on the history of the American colonists who sought for a land of liberty and wellbeing. Likewise, reflect on the history which followed since that time, a history which has shaped this longing of the first colonists for religious freedom. Our reflection is made whole through thanksgiving. As we gather as families for this holiday, we thank God for the good things He has showered upon our forefathers, but also upon us.
Let us give glory and thanks to God for all things!
+ Metropolitan Nicolae