Usually in the week before Theophany, the course readings of Scripture in the Divine Liturgy (the daily Epistles and Gospels) have to be adjusted, so that the Sunday of Zacchaeus (the 32th Sunday after Pentecost) is read the week before the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee. Because Pascha is so late in 2019 (April 21), this means that the Sunday of Zacchaeus is February 3, and so, on Monday, December 31, we adjust the calendar to repeat from the 28th Week after Pentecost. This will mean, of course, a number of repetitions on weekdays, but because of the special Sunday before and after Christmas and Theophany, there will be only one Sunday repetition (January 20). This is fine with me, after all, we cannot hear the gospels enough, but I know some pastors don’t like repetition, and will read the gospels from the Menaion rather than the course readings. They might also replace the one Sunday repetition with the Matthew Gospel of the Caanite Woman (Matthew 15:21-28). The Greeks and Melkites regularly do this. (DPetras)
We call this the “Church” New Year, but it was, of course, the civil New Year of the Byzanrine Emperor. The book, Mapping Time, by E. G. Richards, says, “In AD 312 Constantine had instituted a 15-year cycle of indications (censuses of people’s ability to pay taxes). These started on 1 September …. The Byzantine year started on 1 September and this system was used by the supreme tribunal of the Holy Roman Empire until it was abolished by Napoleon in 1806.”
The ancient Roman Empire began the year on January 1, and therefore September was the seventh month (from the Latin word for seven, “septem”).
Of course, it is now the ninth month (!) Because of the interpolation of July (for Julius Caesar) and August (for August Caesar). Many seriously advocate making September 1 the New Year again, because, after all, this is the beginning of the school year and fall programs. It would also enable people to get home on dry roads rather than on snow and ice. In any case, the gospel today has the blessing of our Lord on the New Year, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19).
Meditation by Archpriest David Petras