[Note: The prisoners (in the Texas state prison system) that I see weekly are reading the Gospels together. I have asked them to comment upon what they read, or ask questions, and I promised to send them simple commentaries. These small offerings, which are usually part of a letter sent to them, are not meant to be a scholarly exegesis, or comprehensive. We must read the Gospels daily, and simply, and be like Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus, desiring to be taught something edifying for our soul. If a person does not feel something stirring in their soul when they read the Gospels, they are missing the illumination God desires to give them. Everyone is invited to send their feelings about the Gospels to me. Perhaps we can educate each other in some way.
Priest Seraphim Holland firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sept 9/22 2014 Synaxis of Saints Joachim and Anna, the day after the Nativity of the Theotokos
I note with regret that the last time I wrote to you about the Gospel (Matthew chapter 1 ) was over a month ago. Truly, it is hard to redeem the time. Some of you have written to me about chapter 1, but most have not. Get on the stick!
This is not a complete exegesis. I am writing just about the stuff that touches me right now.
Every time I read the account of the adoration of the Magi, I am struck by two things, and my soul feels great consolation.
This is a story of how the secular and the sacred encounter God. Society is filled with believers and unbelievers. Those who believe and love God see things and have understanding that the evil and unbelievers have no idea about, no matter what their intelligence, education or position in life is.
The Akathist to the Theotokos has within it a line that describes Herod and all unbelievers, evil men, narcissists and all secular people in general (including many who darken the doors of the church, but do not live with intensity and Godly desire):
"Turned God-bearing heralds, the Wise Men returned to Babylon. They fulfilled Thy prophecy and to all preached Thee as the Christ, and they left Herod as a babbler who could not sing: Alleluia!" (Akathist, Kontakion 6)
Matthew 2:1-23 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, (2) Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. (3) When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. (4) And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. (5) And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, (6) And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. (7) Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. (8) And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. (9) When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. (10) When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. (11) And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. (12) And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. (13) And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. (14) When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: (15) And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. (16) Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. (17) Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, (18) In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. (19) But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, (20) Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life. (21) And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. (22) But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: (23) And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.
Priest Seraphim Holland 2014 St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas
This article is at:
New Journal entries, homilies, etc. are on our BLOG: http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime
Journal Archive: http://www.orthodox.net/journal
Blog posts & local parish news are posted to our email list. Go to here: http://groups.google.com/group/saint-nicholas-orthodox-church to join.
Redeeming the Time BLOG: http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime
Use this for any edifying reason, but please give credit, and include the URL of the article. This content belongs to the author. We would love to hear from you with comments! (email@example.com)
 This was the first Akathist written. St Romanos the Melodist is the author. It is in most complete prayer books. You should learn to sing it as read it often.
 For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward. (Mark 9:41)
 Act 10:34-35 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: (35) But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.
 Mat 9:16-17 No man putteth a piece of new cloth unto an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up taketh from the garment, and the rent is made worse. (17) Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved.