old testament


December 14, 2011 + Strangers to the Past

by Fr. James C. Meena
from The Word, December 1978

Gideon, Barak, Sampson, Jefta, David, Samuel, Isaac, Jacob, Zerah, Tamar, Amminadab, Boaz, Obed, Jessica —Who are all these people? I am sure that when we read the 1st chapter of the Gospel of St. Matthew, which begins with the genealogy of Christ, most of us skip over it and don’t bother to read it. That is so sad. That’s like a person who looks at the leaves on a tree but doesn’t appreciate its roots and trunk. And so it is with us. Our lives in Christ are not just now, today, but have been in the past and shall be for all eternity and unless we understand that we are rooted in the past, our present and our future cannot have the fullness of meaning that God intends for them to have. Who are you? Where do you come from? Where are you going?

Each of us has an identity that extends itself to all those around us, our father, our mother, brothers, sisters, wife, husband, sons, daughters, our past, our present and our future. And those who have no such extension of themselves suffer from such a depth of loneliness that their lives are difficult for them. I am who I am, because I can identify with people who love me and who shared with me the highest values of life that they understood, my father and mother, our parents, our grandparents. All of those with whom we had the good fortune to come into contact from our past tried to contribute to us those good things of life which they knew were essential to our understanding of how to live and get along with God and with our neighbors. Those people of our present, our brothers and our sisters, strive to relate to us lovingly and with compassion in order that our lives might be enriched as well, and we strive to relate to them in the same way. Our children symbolize for us our future and we strive to pass on to them those ennobling characteristics which were preserved also for us as members of the Body of Christ, that we understand that our present and our future are somehow dependent upon our past.

The Ethos of Orthodox Catechesis: The Mind of the Orthodox Church (Part 5)

By Fr. George Morelli

The People of the Old Covenant

Abraham about to Sacrifice IsaacAbraham about to Sacrifice IsaacThe people of the Old Covenant, the Hebrews,  from the time of Abraham up to the present day, take very seriously that they are the "Chosen People". God's words to Abraham were quite specific:

When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, "I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly." Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, "Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come forth from you. And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. (Gen.17: 1-7)

Old Testament Women at the Annunciation: Gleanings from the Western Rite Lectionary

by Lynette A. Smith

Not All By Herself

Orthodox believers of both the Eastern and Western Rites celebrate major feast days in honor of the events of the Theotokos’ life. St. Luke records three of these important occurrences: the Annunciation, March 25 (1:26-38), the Visitation, July 2 (1:39-56), and the Presentation, February 2 (2:21-39). One of the features these three stories have in common is that our Lady is never alone; rather, other people share in the events of her life.

We know that Mary deliberately goes to be with her cousin Elizabeth after Mary’s annunciation. Nor is Mary is alone at the Temple when she presents the infant Jesus, because the Gospel tells us that at least her husband, Joseph, the priest, and Saints Simon and Anna are there for the occasion. Mary’s annunciation itself, however, seems a little different. Yes, the archangel Gabriel comes to her, but he leaves after delivering his message, and we do not read that she has anyone else with her. Or, does she?

In fact, those who attend Orthodox Western Rite parishes discover in the lectionary readings for the Feast of the Annunciation that five women from the Old Testament spiritually join with the Blessed Virgin Mary.[1] These women, in order of their liturgical appearance, are Eve, Sarah, the Psalmist’s royal Queen, the conceiving Virgin in Isaiah, and Hannah.

The History of Our Salvation: Reading the Old Testament During Lent and Holy Week

Introduction

O almighty Master, who hast made all creation and by thine inexpressible providence and great goodness hast brought us to these all−revered days, for the purification of soul and body, for the controlling of passions and for hope of resurrection, who, during the forty days didst give into the hands of thy servant Moses the tablets of the Law in characters divinely traced by thee: Enable us also, O good One, to fight the good fight, to complete the course of the fast, to preserve inviolate the faith, to crush under foot the heads of invisible serpents, to be accounted victors over sin; and, uncondemned, to attain unto and worship the holy resurrection. For blessed and glorified is thine all−honorable and majestic name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages.1

From the first Presanctified Liturgy of the Lenten season, the Old Testament is offered to us for instruction and inspiration, and revealed to us as our guide through the forty days−those forty days which we keep in memory of Moses’ sojourn on Mount Sinai, during which God gave into the hands of His servant the tablets of the Law in characters which He Himself divinely traced. This is, of course, a reference from the Book of Exodus. The second Old Testament citation in this prayer hearkens from the earliest chapters of the Book of Genesis, in which God curses the
serpent who has just led Adam and Eve into temptation:

On your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel. (Genesis 3:14−15)