Tuesday, September 13, 2022

On the Consecration of the Temple of the Resurrection of Christ in Jerusalem (St. Justin Popovich)


 Consecration of the Temple of the Resurrection of Christ in Jerusalem

September 13

By St. Justin Popovich

On this day we celebrate the consecration of the most glorious and majestic temple in Jerusalem, not the one that King Solomon built on Mount Moriah, but the one that the blessed Emperor Constantine with his glorious mother Helen wonderfully built, cleaning and restoring the holy place defiled by heathen godlessness. After the voluntary suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, and His resurrection and ascension to heaven, that holy place, where our salvation was accomplished, was envied and defiled by the enemies of Christ. But the impious Roman emperor Hadrian[1] especially defiled all the holy places by means of demonic idols and sacrifices. For when he on the site of the city of Jerusalem, destroyed by Titus,[2] razed the city, then he ordered that the grave of the Lord be buried with earth and many stones. On the hill where the Lord was crucified, he built a temple to the heathen goddess Aphrodite and placed there her statue, and placed a statue of the god Zeus over the Lord's grave. So there, where the Lamb of God offered himself as a sacrifice to God the Father for our sins, the heathen offered sacrifices to the gods and committed various abominations. Likewise, in Bethlehem, where the Pure One was born from the womb of the Pure One, he set up an idol of Adonis,[3] and that holy place was defiled with shameful acts. And in the place where Solomon's temple was, he erected an idolatrous idol. He named the city itself Aelia Capitolina, because his name was Aelius Hadrianus, and ordered that no one should call it Jerusalem.

He did all this with the desire to eradicate the very memory of the name of Jesus Christ from the earth. He changed the name of the city, where Christ performed many miracles, and made demonic abodes at the places of Christ's birth, crucifixion and burial, so that later generations of the human race would completely forget Christ and never be reminded of those places where Christ lived and taught. However, Hadrian himself perished, and the holy place was glorified by the King of Glory again. Because, having enlightened Emperor Constantine and his mother Helen with the light of the holy faith, He encouraged them and put in their hearts the desire to restore the holy city of Jerusalem, to build a beautiful temple of God in the place where the temple of the body of Christ was destroyed and rebuilt in three days,[4 ] and to cleanse all holy places of demonic filth and vengeance.

For this reason, the pious emperor Constantine sent his holy mother Helen with a lot of gold to Jerusalem and wrote to the most holy patriarch Makarios to take care of the construction of the church. Arriving in Jerusalem, Saint Helen destroyed all the idolatrous temples in it, destroyed the idols, and cleansed the whole city of heathen paganism, and rebuilt it. She also found the Holy Cross of the Lord and the grave, removing the earth and stones with which the grave was covered, and built a huge church over that place, the roof of which covered both those places, the place where the Lord was crucified and the place where they buried him, because they were located not far from each other, as the evangelist John notes: There was a garden near the place where he was crucified, and in the garden a new grave. There, therefore, on Friday for the sake of the Jews, because the grave was near, they laid Jesus (Jn. 19:41, 42). And so it includes Golgotha and the tomb of the Lord in one church. That church would be called the Martyrion, that is, the Testimony - the testimony of the resurrection of Christ, since Christ died and rose again in that place. Saint Helen also built other churches: in Bethlehem, on the Mount of Olives, and Gethsemane, and in many holy places, and decorated them with all kinds of decorations. Nevertheless, the church above the Lord's grave was more wonderful and bigger than all of them. But she did not see the completion of that magnificent church: returning to her son, she rested in the Lord[5] before the church was completed. This is because it was impossible to quickly build such a marvelous and huge building; it would hardly be completed in ten years.

When the church was completed, the pious emperor Constantine ordered bishops from all over to gather in Jerusalem for the consecration of the temple. And a great many bishops arrived in Jerusalem: from Bithynia, Thrace, Cilicia, Cappadocia, Syria, Mesopotamia, Phoenicia, Arabia, Palestine, Egypt and other parts of Africa, and one bishop from Persia. Likewise, an innumerable multitude of peoples from all over the world gathered, and not even the entire area around Jerusalem could accommodate them. And the Church of the Resurrection of Christ was consecrated on September 13, 335, in the thirtieth year of Constantine's reign, when all of Jerusalem was rebuilt. The holy fathers present, based on the Old Testament, decreed that the day of the temple's consecration should always be celebrated. Because as in the Old Testament, Judas Maccabeus, having cleansed the greatest sanctuary - the Holy of Holies - from being defiled by Syrian idolatry,[6] which is mentioned in the Gospel: "It was then the feast of renewal in Jerusalem" (Jn. 10:22); so also in the New Testament, Emperor Constantine, equal to the apostles, having built the second Holy of Holies, established with the holy fathers that the restoration of the great church of Jerusalem, which is the mother of all churches, is celebrated in all the churches in the world.

Therefore, we now celebrate its restoration, thanking Christ God, who by His suffering and resurrection renewed all matter and cleansed His holy Church from idol impurities. And let us renew ourselves, because we are temples of the living God, putting off the old man and putting on the new; let's cleanse ourselves of our evils rooted in us and do good deeds, beginning to walk in a new life. Then the angels will celebrate the restoration of our spiritual temple, as men celebrate the restoration of the temple built with hands. Because for every sinner who is renewed through repentance, there is joy in heaven among the angels, with whom the Creator of angels himself, Christ our Lord, who does not want the death of sinners, rejoices with them. Glory to him forever. Amen.

NOTES:

[1] Hadrian, Roman emperor, reigned from 117 to 138 AD.

[2] Titus, Roman emperor from 79 to 81 AD; conquered Jerusalem in the year 70, during the reign of his father Vespasian.

[3] Adonis - an old Greek deity, considered to be the embodiment of the sun, dies in winter, resurrects in spring; his holidays were celebrated lavishly and promiscuously.

[4] See: Jn. 2:1, 9:21; Mt. 2:6, 1:6; 27:40; Mk. 1:4, 58; 1:5, 29.

[5] Holy Empress Helen passed away in 327.

[6] 1. Macc. 4:36-59.

Source: From Lives of the Saints for September. Translation by John Sanidopoulos.
 
 
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