Second Day of the Feast of the Nativity. Synaxis of the Most Holy Theotokos. Hieromartyr Euthymius, Bishop of Sardis (ca. 840). Ven. Constantine of Synnada (8th c.). Ven. Evaristus of the Studion Monastery (9th c.). Ven. Nicodemus of Tishmana (Macedonia—1406). Hieromartyr Constantine the Russian of Lavra on Mt. Athos (Mt. Athos—1743).
Synaxis of the Most Holy Theotokos
The Synaxis of the Most Holy Theotokos: On the second day of the feast, the Synaxis of the Most Holy Theotokos is celebrated. Combining the hymns of the Nativity with those celebrating the Mother of God, the Church points to Mary as the one through whom the Incarnation was made possible. His humanity—concretely and historically—is the humanity He received from Mary. His body is, first of all, her body. His life is her life. This feast, the assembly in honor of the Theotokos, is probably the most ancient feast of Mary in the Christian tradition, the very beginning of her veneration by the Church.
Six days of post-feast bring the Christmas season to a close on December 31. At the services of all these days, the Church repeats the hymns and songs glorifying Christ’s Incarnation, reminding us that the source and foundation of our salvation is only to be found in the One who, as God before the ages, came into this world and for our sake was “born as a little Child.”
Father Alexander Schmemann, The Services of Christmas (1981)
Troparion of the Nativity, tone 4
Your Nativity, O Christ our God, Has shone to the world the Light of wisdom! For by it, those who worshiped the stars, Were taught by a Star to adore You, The Sun of Righteousness, And to know You, the Orient from on High. O Lord, glory to You!
Kontakion of the Synaxis of the Theotokos, tone 6
He that was born before the morning star of the Father without mother, is today on earth incarnate of thee without father. A star calleth the glad tidings to the Magi; while angels and shepherds praise thy seedless childbirth, O thou who art full of grace.
Hebrews 2:11-18 (Epistle, Theotokos)
- For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren,
- saying: “I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will sing praise to You.”
- And again: “I will put My trust in Him.” And again: “Here am I and the children whom God has given Me.”
- Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,
- and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
- For indeed He does not give aid to angels, but He does give aid to the seed of Abraham.
- Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
- For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.
Matthew 2:13-23 (Gospel, Theotokos)
- Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.”
- When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt,
- and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”
- Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men.
- Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying:
- “A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”
- Now when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,
- saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.”
- Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel.
- But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee.
- 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.”