Archive for November, 2009

Parable of the Good Samaritan. The Greatest Commandment. 10 things.

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Parable of the Good Samaritan

The Greatest Commandment

10 Things [1]

 

parable-good-samaritan-church-of-panagia-dexia.jpg

1. The Parable of the Good Samaritan is only in the Evangelist Luke's Gospel (Luke 10:25-37), and is read on or near the 25th Sunday after Pentecost. This is always very close to or in the Nativity Fast.

 

This is especially apropos because the parable discusses the incarnation in detail, in symbols, such as “oil and wine” and the beast of the Samaritan. 

 

2.  The parable is at the end of an encounter with a Jewish lawyer which began in this way:

 

And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? {26} He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? {27} And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. {28} And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. (Luke 10:25-28)

 

A lawyer was a Jewish teacher, a so-called expert in the Law of Moses.

The lawyer was one of many who asked questions in order to trip up Jesus, in order to find some basis on which to judge him, and have Him done away with.

The lawyer's answer to Jesus' question is remarkable, because he quotes two passages of scripture from separate books of the law, and in so doing, binds them as one, cohesive thought. The passages he quotes are from Deuteronomy and Leviticus:

"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: {5} And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. {6} And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: {7} And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. {8} And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. {9} And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates. " (Deu 6:4-9)

"Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD. " (Lev 19:18)

The lawyer must have heard of Jesus teaching, and was repeating it.

3.  Look carefully as Jesus’ answers to questions. The answer is always much greater than the question, and often does not directly answer it. Only those with ears to hear will understand the Lord’s multifaceted answers to questions.

 

The parable is an answer to the lawyer’s second question: 

 

{29} But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor?”

 

Like most parables, there is an external and internal meaning.

The external aspect of the parable of the Good Samaritan is a teaching concerning true charity, in answer to the question “who is my neighbor”.

There are many internal meanings in the symbols of the parable, which is a wonderful description of the ministry of Jesus Christ, and the effects of the incarnation on the state of man.

Some of the things taught in the parable are detailed information about the effects of the incarnation, the nature of man, the effects of sin and how it is healed, the ministry of the church and the second coming of Christ and the judgment.

 

4. And Jesus answering said, A certain man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.(Luke 10:30)

 

The "certain man" is Adam and all his descendants – all of mankind. This parable is describing man's condition and the means of his restoration.

The word "Jerusalem" is interpreted "Vision of peace", and has always indicated the heavenly state.

The man was headed to Jericho, which is in the valley away from Jerusalem, and indicates, as Blessed Theophylact teaches, that he was traveling to: "a place sunk down low and suffocating with heat, that is, to a life of passions".

The tense of the verb is "going down", not "went" down". This trip, from Jerusalem to Jericho, then represents our fallen human nature, which is continuously going down towards a passionate life, if not for the mercy and help of God.

5. "… A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.” (Luke 10:30)

The thieves represent the demons, and the stripping of the raimen t the loss of virtue which happens because of “wounds” of sin. The man was left “half dead” because the demons cannot kill us; they can only wound us.

6. "And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. {32} And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side." (Luke 10:31-32)

There are two interpretations to the actions of the priest and the Levite. One is immediately obvious, and is unfortunately the only meaning many people assimilate. The other meaning is much more profound.

Of course, the lack of charity of the two men is apparent. They passed by because if the man died when they were touching him, they would have been ritually unclean, and would have had to go to an extensive ritual of washings and purifications according to the law.

The priest represents the law, the Levite, the prophets.

The law and prophets can teach and guide, but they cannot save; only God can save. That is the reason why these two “passed by on the other side” – none of their ministrations would be able to save human nature wounded by sin. Also note that they came to the man “by chance”.

7. "But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him …" (Luke 10:33)

The Samaritan is Jesus Christ. He did not come to the man by chance, but journeyed and came to where he was. This describes the purpose of the incarnation – to come to the nature of mean, in its diseased state, in order to heal it.

8. And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. (Luke 10:34)

So much of the profound meaning of the parable is present here in one short sentence!

“Binding up His wounds” symbolizes the self control that  helps us to stop the hemorrhaging of sin.  Christ helps us, not binding us against our will, but He helps us with self control. Whatever  sin you have — you cannot name a sin that God will not help you to conquer. You cannot name one.

 

The oil and wine refers to the dual natures of Christ. It also refers to the two ways in  which Christ acts, and indeed, how all of the teachings and actions of the church, His body are. Some teachings are merciful and are gentle. They are promises, and things that give us hope and comfort us. Some teachings are harder. They tell us when we are foolish, or doing things that are evil, or dangerous.

9. And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. (Luke 10:34)

The beast signifies the incarnation.

 

He took a sick and a dying man, and he raised him up, and he gave  him the ability to live. He took on flesh, and made this flesh able to comprehend and apprehend God. Beforehand, it wasn’t possible, because we were laying  by the road, all bruised and bleeding, but he put us on His beast – he became incarnate  for our sake. He is our strength when we are weak. He carries us at all times, at every moment, because of His  love for us.

 

The inn represents the church

10. “And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.”.

“On the morrow when he departed” represents the Ascension of Jesus Christ.

 

The “host” (or innkeeper) represents the pastors and teachers of the church, preeminently the bishops, priests and monastics, who are entrusted with the care of the flock.

 

The “two pence” represent the reward we will receive for fulfilling God’s commands.

 

“When I come again” references the Second coming, and the Final Judgment.

 

 

From St Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney Texaswww.orthodox.net

 

This document is at http://www.orthodox.net/10things/parable-of-the-good-samaritan-and-the-greatest-commandment+luke10-25-37+25th-sunday-after-pentecost.html

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New 10 things” entries, sermons, journal entries , scripture commentary & more are posted on our BLOG: http://www/.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime

 

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Use this for any edifying reason, but please give credit, and include the URL were the text was found. We would love to hear from you with comments!



[1] This document is a list of ten (more or less) things about a particular topic. More “Ten Things” topics may be found at http://www.orthodox.net/10things. They are also posted to the blog of St Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney Texas, called  “Redeeming the Time” – http://www.orthodox.net/redeemingthetime. Look under the category “10things”. Use anything you wish, but please indicate authorship, with the URL.

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The Greatest Commandment and Parable of the Good Samaritan. Audio Homily 2009.

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

Two answers to the question who is my neighbor

Icon of the parable of the Good Samaritan

Regarding the question of "Who is my neighbor", the Lord Jesus Christ, as is usual, gives many answers at once. The parable of the Good Samaritan is rich in symbolism and Theology, and teaches about morality, the church, the second coming and the judgment, but it basically boils down to two broad "answers": we must know God and know ourselves. This parable, more than any other in Scripture, shows the ministry of the incarnate God-man Jesus Christ and the nature of man. If we understand both, we will always know who our neighbor is.

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Many more homilies about this parable are here:

http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/sundays-after-pentecost+25th-sunday-after-pentecost.html

Luke 10:25-37 25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? 27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. 28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. 29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? 30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. 36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? 37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.



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The Good Samaritan Luke 10:25-37 25th Sunday after Pentecost

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

The Good Samaritan

Luke 10:25-37

25th Sunday after Pentecost

 

parable-good-samaritan-church-of-panagia-dexia.jpg taken from http://findingthewaytotheheart.blogspot.com/2009/09/jesus-prayer.html In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen [1]

 

Today is the Twenty Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, and on this day we read about the Greatest Commandment and the story of the Good Samaritan.

 

Last Sunday, we talked about two miracles, where the woman was healed from an issue of blood, and the daughter of Jairus was raised, [2] and they both had a relationship to one another.

 

Today, we have two teachings, set parallel to one another, like two plots  in a story. One has an outward and moral aspect, concerning how we should act as Christians, being compassionate, and who is our neighbor.

 

We know  the answer to that. Everyone is our neighbor. We just need to be reminded of that sometimes. 

 

There is also a mystical and internal story  here that is right alongside this important teaching about being compassionate. What gives us the power, the ability, to act with compassion? What gives us the ability to live the Christian life? Of course, we know, it is only God’s grace, but what did He do? How did He give us this ability, and this power?

 

We can see it in this story, when we look  at the mystical meaning that the Fathers have elucidated. We can see also what the meaning of Christianity is, and the purpose and activity of the church. There is a great promise in this story as well, and I believe … I know – a great source of hope for us.

 

“And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” [3]

 

A lawyer was a Jew who studied and interpreted the law. He was not like we understand lawyers to be today. They should have been men of character and high moral standing. Many of them were, but too many were not.  This lawyer was like the people Jesus referred to when He said: “But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” [4] If you know this passage, from St. Luke’s gospel, a sentence or so later, a lawyer told Jesus He was judging them too, and Our Lord said ‘yes, indeed’.

 

This lawyer was trying to trap Jesus. He was trying to get Him to say  something where  they could judge Him. Already they hated Him. In the first year of His ministry, there were people who wanted to put Him to death. The bloom was off the rose very quickly for these people when they saw what Jesus meant and how they would have to change their lives if they followed him. They didn’t want to do it. They didn’t want to give up their positions, and their lands, and everything else, as the second gospel speaks about. [5]  This lawyer was one of many flunkies that would go to Christ and try to trip Him up in some way. This question that he asks is an amazing question. It really is an incredibly stupid question. To stand in front of the God-man, and ask him ‘what should I do to inherit eternal life’ – to be filled with pride and self absorption.

 

Christ refers him to the law, because Christ upheld the law. This should have been enough for him, just it  should have been enough for the rich man and his brothers, since they had the law and the prophets. [6] He also wanted to show how one can be a lawyer, and know all manner of things about the law,  and how one could, to extend it to our time – know all  manner of things about the Saints, and the typicon, and the church, and yet, not understand the inner  meaning, and the essence of what our life is all about.

 

 “He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. “[7]

 

Foolish wretched man! He actually knows the correct answer to the question, and he says it like some school child reciting the answer in a test, and having a smug grin on his face because he got the answer right. The amazing  thing is that he had previously listened to Christ, because  nowhere in the Old Testament does it explicitly  speak  about loving ‘thy neighbor as Thyself”. The first portion of his quotation is from Dueteronomy, but the second part is from the words of the God-man, Jesus Christ. Our Lord was teaching the people what the law really meant – the essence of the law is love of God, and because of  love of God, love of neighbor, and after also quoting Deuteronomy, said: ”And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” [8] The lawyer must have heard this! He knew the right answer, but did not really believe it, because he did not live it.

 

If you believe these words, then you will heed Christ’s other words. He said: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” [9] This is the hallmark of what a Christian is – it is love. Without love, we truly are nothing, and are hypocrites , and are most to be pitied.

 

Christ says to the lawyer: “Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.” [10]

 

It is really very simple! Christ reveals the truth to us, and we follow Him! We love Him. We want  to do things that are pleasing to him, because it is innate in us to want to please God – not because of fear of punishment, not because of hope of reward, but because HE IS! And we want to follow Him, because of that only. Or that is, as you  progress in the Christian life, even a little bit, you come to the realization that you want to do good and follow God’s commandments because of how sweet  they are, how tasty they are. You want to do nothing else.

 

You may fall many, many times, but that desire you must inculcate in you heart, brothers and sisters! No matter how many times you fall, seventy times seven times, or seventy time seven plus one! [11] I don’t care how many times. You must plant in your heart this desire to follow God’s commandments. All Christ is saying is, “you know the answer. You’re right. Now go do it!”. The Christian life is not something we just read in a book or talk about. It is not something we say we believe. It is WHAT WE DO, BECAUSE OF WHAT WE BELIEVE.

 

Christ’s response puts the lawyer back on his heels. He did not expect  such a simple, forthright answer. He thought he was doing pretty well. He had gotten the first answer right, and was ready for more, with the audience surrounding them, but Christ simply amazed him with such a simple response. He had to recover. Instead of falling at His feet, and worshipping Him, and realizing that he  had been full of pride, instead, he lets his pride master him. He wants to get in the last word, shall we say.

 

“But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor?” [12]

 

Another very foolish, wretched question. He can say sweet words, but he does not know  that they taste sweet. He can say that thou shalt love thy neighbor, but he doesn’t do it. He wants to put himself on a pedestal. He wants to think himself better than some men! Certainly he thinks that there are some others that are his equal – the other lawyers, the people of learning, and those that wash every day and are not smelly. I am sure  he though he had some equals, but he put himself above some of mankind. This story that we are now about to discuss certainly resoundingly tells him ‘Lawyer, everyone is your neighbor’.

 

This story  says something else more incredibly beautiful, and incredibly sweet. It presents the mystical teaching of Christ the Healer, and presents also that the church is to continue that role of healing, and reintegrating the personality with Christ. 

 

All of us, to some extent, are fractured. Our personality is not integrated with God’s will, and we suffer grievously because of it. Our whole life in the church is therapeutic. We are being remade, and being made whole. It is as if we are missing a leg, and we are given a perfect leg. We don’t have eyes to see, and we are given eyes. All of our senses are being given to us in greater and greater measure so that we can truly see and understand God Who is.

 

Jesus makes a very short answer to the lawyer. He never answers him directly, because why should you answer a proud man with a direct answer? They will just have another come back. Instead, He answers in a way that cannot be gainsaid. And he says it all in one hundred and eighty six words! Listen very carefully now. There is outward teaching here, but the inward teaching will give us great hope, and make us realize how great is our God.

 

 “And Jesus answering said, A certain man was going from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.” [13]

 

The road from Jerusalem to Jericho  was a very dangerous route. It was very hot, and went down into the valley, and Jericho was very uncomfortable compared to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is an image in the scriptures, and the writings of the fathers of salvation, and peacefulness. Doesn’t it say: “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King.”? [14]

 

Jerusalem is an image of salvation, and Jericho is an image of the passions, strife, cacophony, and unwholeness. The road to Jericho is dangerous and in the original language this “went down” implies  a continual motion down, and the Fathers stress this.

 

Who is this man? He is Adam, and the entire human race. This man is the human nature. God created us perfect. He created us so that we would know Him, and then we fell. We would all proceed down towards Jericho, except that the God-man intervenes and saves us.

 

Who are the thieves? They are the demons.  What do these demons do? They strip a man of his raiment. This raiment is our virtue. They strip a man of virtue, and then they wound him with sins. Then they leave him half dead. Not totally dead, because God is merciful, and there is still breath in us, and there is still hope for our salvation. Also, the fathers tell us that even though our body dies, our soul lives.

 

“And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.” [15]

 

The outer meaning here is that these Jews knew the law, and they did not want to touch a man that might be dead. That would soil them, and though would be obliged to wash, and would not be able to go into the temple for a period of time. They valued their own position and status and comfort more than another  man. They did  not even go to look at him, and  went to the other side, these wretched, foolish men!

 

Listen to what the Fathers say is the inner meaning. The law and prophets cannot change a man! The problem is too difficult. We are too broken. We are too wounded. We are bleeding from everywhere, and we are weakened. So when they passed by, this indicates that our sins are too much for us. We cannot do anything with them on our own. And it says that by chance they came upon him. Not by purpose, but by chance, because a man’s purpose in live cannot be to save another man. He can certainly assist, as God asks him to, especially those in the church that are appointed to this task, and also in some measure, all of us, but no man can save another. Only God can save.

 

“But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him” [16]

 

His journey was to come TO the man. It wasn’t a chance occurrence. This Samaritan (our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ is the Samaritan in this parable, brothers and sisters), he journeyed in order to come to each one of us by the side of the road. That is the meaning is here. When He saw us, and as he continues to see us, He has compassion. His purpose on the earth was to come to save us, and to help us in every way.

 

“And”, (He) “went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.” [17]

 

Oh, there is much here to know about. Binding up His wounds – what does this mean? Do you have any sins that like the woman  with an issue of blood, that we talked about last week [18], sins that  hemorrhage, and you cannot stop the bleeding? Don’t you need some binding to put on that wound so as to stop the bleeding? That is what Christ does. He binds us, He helps us, not binding us against our will, but He helps us with self control. Whatever  sin you have — you cannot name a sin that God will not help you to conquer. You cannot name one.

 

He poured in oil and wine. This oil and wine refers to the dual natures of Christ. It also refers to the two ways in  which Christ acts, and indeed, how all of the teachings and actions of the church, His body are. Some teachings are merciful and are gentle. They are promises, and things that give us hope and comfort us. Some teachings are harder. They tell us when we are foolish, or doing things that are evil, or dangerous.

 

Some of the soothing words that Christ, said are these:

 

 “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” [19]

 

“Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you, that ye love one another.” [20]

 

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” [21]

 

Those are the teachings that are like oil, soothing. We need this oil, just as our children need to be comforted, many, many times. We are like children that need to be comforted, that need to know, over and over  that God loves us, and indeed, has a place prepared for us.

 

He has also given us hard teachings. Some of these teachings seem hard to us because of our hard-heartedness, and  they are very hard to a person who doesn’t want to change. He said:

 

 “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:  because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” [22]

 

“Not every one that saith unto me, lord, lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my father which is in heaven.” [23]

 

He also says something about the last judgment, the last part of which are words that I hope none of us will hear: “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my father which is in heaven.  But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my father which is in heaven.” [24]

 

All of the scriptures are full of these teachings  of oil and wine, mixed together, because our Lord and Savior was, and is God and man.

 

He put him on his own beast. What  does that mean? The beast signifies the incarnation.

 

He took a sick and a dying man, and he raised him up, and he gave  him the ability to live! He took on flesh, and made this flesh able to comprehend and apprehend God. Beforehand, it wasn’t possible, because we were laying  by the road, all bruised and bleeding, but he put us on His beast – he became incarnate  for our sake. He is our strength when we are weak. He carries us at all times, at every moment, because of His  love for us. And He loves our flesh.

 

“And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.” [25]

 

The departing is His ascension.

 

He did not live on the earth forever, but after a very  short period of time,  He left the administration of his church to His servants, to the innkeeper, his bishops, His priests, His deacons. He told them to take care of those who need care.  And he gave them two pence. A coin is stamped on both sides with the image of the emperor.  Two pence are the old and  the new testaments, Holy Scripture and holy tradition. These are the ways in which a man finds truth, by the Holy Scriptures, and the Holy Church, which wrote the scriptures and has added much more besides, as the Holy Spirit has willed it.

 

What is this ‘taking care”? How are these people taken care of? Through all the ways we live in the church, through confession, counsel, teaching, preaching, the services, and blessings. Through praying for one another, and especially, even if he be unworthy, through  the priest and the bishop praying and interceding for the people before the holy altar, as God has ordained. Also, may God grant that they would be strong enough to be an example to others, these innkeepers.

 

“And Whatever thou spendest more” – We are  going to spend more. God gives us, but we must increase. God  makes the increase, and causes the growth, but we supply the labor, [26] and  increase our talents. Whatever you spend more (God will remember a cup of water that you give to a thirsty man [27]), every prayer that you say for a person, every prostration, every tear – nothing will be forgotten. And when He comes again, all  things will be made known, both good and bad, and He will repay us.

 

Do you understand the sweetness of this parable, and how it applies  to us? We are the man by the road. We are that man bleeding, and the Samaritan, our Lord, Jesus Christ, came and bound us up,  and helped us to stop sinning. He did not just lay down commandments. He did not just lay  down laws, and say “you must do this, and do this and  do this, or you will be damned”. He came and helped us. And as we become stronger, we will  do His commandments, as we react to His love, just as a child responds to the love of his parents, and wants to do better, and wants to please them. That’s the way we are. And He sometimes pours in oil, and sometimes wine into us. Sometimes we need to be rebuked, and sometimes we need to be comforted. And He makes us able to live.

 

This man that went to the inn recovered, and became stronger This is the same with us! We should have hope, we should have absolute certainty that God will save us, because that is why He came. That is why He journeyed. That is why went to the dusty road where we were lying in the ditch. 

 

He will save us, if we only react to Him, if we only cooperate with  the therapeutic care that He gives to us. If you go under the care of a physician and do not do anything the physician says, then you will not get better. All we need to do is listen to our Great Physician. God will save us. God will bind up our wounds continually, and eventually the wounds will go away. The passions will go away.

 

I don’t say  that this will happen in a short period of time, although, I tell you, if we have great fervor,  it would go away in a very short period of time. If we have fervor and great desire, God will help us more quickly. If we choose the  hard path, ( like Jairus did, if you remember from last week – he did not have as much faith and wanted Christ to come to his house and lay hands on his child), then we will have a longer road. We have that longer road,  unfortunately, because of  our lack of faith, and our arrogance and our addiction to sins. But regardless of whether it is a longer road or a shorter road for us, God will save us. Amen.

 

 

 

And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? {26} He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? {27} And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. {28} And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. {29} But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbor? {30} And Jesus answering said, A certain man was going from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. {31} And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. {32} And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. {33} But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, {34} And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. {35} And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. {36} Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves? {37} And he said, He that showed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do

thou likewise.



 

 



 

 

 

Bibliography:

Old Believer Sermon for the 25th  Sunday after Pentecost (unpublished)

“Drops From the Living Water”, Bishop Augustinos

“The One Thing Needful”, Archbishop Andrei of Novo-Diveevo – Pp. 146-148

“Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke”, St. Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria, Pp.  287-290

“The Parable of the Good Samaritan”, Parish life, Fr Victor Potapov. Also available at http://www.stohndc.org/parables

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

This and other Orthodox materials are available in from:

St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

Mailing Address

Box 37, McKinney, TX 75070

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972/529-2754

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seraphim@orthodox.net

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This homily is at:

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and

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[1] This homily was transcribed from one given On November 11, 1996 according to the church calendar (11/24 ns), being the Twenty Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, and the day appointed for the commemoration Holy Martyrs Menas of Egypt, Victor and Stephanida at Damascus and Vincent of Spain The Epistle reading appointed is Ephesians Eph 4:1-6, and the Gospel is Luke 10:25-37.  There are some stylistic changes and minor corrections made and several footnotes have been added, but otherwise, it is essentially in a colloquial, “spoken” style. It is hoped that something in these words will help and edify the reader, but a sermon read from a page cannot enlighten a soul as much as attendance and reverent worship at the Vigil service, which prepares the soul for the Holy Liturgy, and the hearing of the scriptures and the preaching of them in the context of the Holy Divine Liturgy. In such circumstances the soul is enlightened much more than when words are read on a page.

[2] Luke 8:41-56 (read on the 24th Sunday after Pentecost)

[3] Luke 10:25

[4] Luke 11:42

[5] The Reading appointed for Martyr Menas and the other martyrs is Matthew 10:32-33,37-38,19:27-30. At the end of the reading, Christ says: “Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.  And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” (Matthew 19:28-29).

[6] The story of the Rich man and Lazarus is in Luke 16:19-31, and is read on the 16th  Sunday after Pentecost. The rich man, in hell, wanting to save his brothers, has the following discussion with the Holy Prophet Abraham: “I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.  And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” (Luke 19:27-31)

[7] Luke 10:26-27 (cf. Duet 6:5: “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” 

[8] Mark 12:31

[9] John 13:34-35

[10] Luke 10:28

[11] Cf. Matthew 18:22. This expression, “seventy times seven” is an indication of an infinite number.

[12] Luke 10:29

[13] Luke 10:30

[14] Psalm 48:1-2

[15] Luke 10:31-32

[16] Luke 10:33

[17] Luke 10:34

[18] The Gospel for the 24th Sunday after Pentecost, read the preceding week, is Luke 8:41-56. It tells the story of the healing of the woman with an issue of blood, and the raising of  Jairus’ daughter.

[19] John 14:2-3

[20] John 15:14-17

[21] Matthew 11:29-30

[22] Matthew 7:13-14

[23] Matthew 7:21

[24] Matthew 10:32-33

[25] Luke 10:35

[26] Cf. 1 Cor. 3:6 “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.”

[27] Cf. Mark 9:41 “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.”

 

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Priest Daniel Sysoiev murdered. Letter of Matushka Julia Sysoieva

Friday, November 27th, 2009

Priest Daniel Sysoiev murdered

Letter of Matushka Julia Sysoieva

Nov 14/27 2009 25th Friday after Pentecost

 

Priest Daniil Sysoyeyev, who was murdered the evening of Nov 19, 2009, most likely by Moslem extremists. Image taken from the recommended blog: http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2009/11/orthodox-priest-murdered-in-moscow-for.html priest-daniil-sysoyev-murdered-2009-11-19.jpg

Fr Peter Perekrestov (ruspast@sbcglobal.net) writes:

On Thursday, November 19, 2009 35 year old Fr Daniel Sisoev, a very active and straightforward missionary priest in Moscow, was gunned down by a masked gunman inside the St. Thomas Church.

PS We are collecting funds for Matushka Julia and her three girls which I hope to personally deliver to her during my next trip to Russia. If you would like to help out, please send a check (payable to Holy Virgin Cathedral

and earmarked: FOR FR DANIEL’s FAMILY) to my address:

Rev. Peter Perekrestov

475 26th Avenue, #2, San Francisco, CA 94121 USA

 


 

News about this murder:

 

http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2009/11/orthodox-priest-murdered-in-moscow-for.html

 

YouTube video (in English)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzQy8DdYb9s

 

Article from the blog Schole with pictures of funeral and video report

 

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20091120/wl_nm/us_russia_priest_murder_2 (part of the text is below)

 
A masked gunman entered a church and murdered a Russian Orthodox priest who had received death threats for converting Muslims to Christianity and criticizing Islam, prosecutors and church officials said Friday. …

 

"I have received 10 threats via e-mail that I shall have my head cut off (if I do not stop preaching to Muslims)," Sysoyev stated on a television program in February 2008, according to Interfax. "As I see it, it is a sin not to preach to Muslims." …

 

Fr Daniel preached against the Muslim religion, received death threats and has been murdered. Whether this murder was by a Muslim or not, it is clear to anyone with a brain that there is an extremist element among Muslims that is enabled by the content of their religion, that kills those it disagrees with.

 

To preach against Muslims is dangerous, not matter what our (US) government and the even more wishy-washy governments of Europe tries to tell us. We are in a cultural war with Islam, and Christians are losing because for the most part, they are no longer Christian (in way of life, if not in self-identification).  

 

It is quite possible that when we look at the picture, above, we are looking into the eyes of a martyr. We will serve a panakhida for Fr Deniil Saturday before Vigil, and add him and his family to our parish dyptichs. We will also have a collection for his widow and children this Sunday. We must honor his courage and sacrifice, realizing that someday we may be called upon to walk in his footsteps. (p seraphim)

 

 

Letter of  Matushka Julia Sysoieva

 

matushka-julia-sysoieva.jpgDear brothers and sisters, thank you for your support and prayers. This is the pain which cannot be expressed in words. This is the pain experienced by those who stood at the Cross of the Saviour. This is the joy which cannot be expressed in words, this is the joy experienced by those who came to the empty Tomb.

O death, where is thy sting?

Fr Daniel had already foreseen his death several years before it happened. He had always wanted to be worthy of a martyr’s crown. Those who shot him wanted, as usual, to spit in the face of the Church, as once before they spat in the face of Christ. They have not achieved their goal, because it is impossible to spit in the face of the Church. Fr Daniel went up to his Golgotha in the very church which he had built, the church to which he gave up all his time and all his strength. They killed him like the prophet of old – between the temple and the altar and he was indeed found worthy of a martyr’s calling. He died for Christ, Whom he served with all his strength.

Very often he would say to me that he was frightened of not having enough time, time to do everything. He was in a hurry. Sometimes, as a human-being he exaggerated, he got things wrong, he tripped up and made mistakes, but he made no mistake about the main thing, his life was entirely dedicated to HIM.

I did not understand why he was in a hurry. The last three years he was busy serving, never taking days off or taking holidays. I moaned, just now and again I wanted simple happiness, that my husband and my children’s father would be with my children and me. But another path had been prepared for him.

He used to say that they would kill him. I would ask him who would look after us. Me and the three children. He would answer that he would put us in safe hands. ‘I‘ll give you to the Mother of God. She’ll take care of you’.

These words were forgotten too soon. He told us which vestments to bury him in. Then I joked that there was no need to speak about that, we still did not know who would bury who. He said that I would bury him. Once our conversation turned to funerals, I don’t remember the details but I did say that I had never been to a priest’s funeral. And he answered that it did not matter because I would be at his funeral.

Now I remember many words which have gained a meaning. Now my doubts have dissolved, the misunderstandings have gone.

We did not say goodbye in this life, we did not ask each other forgiveness, we did not embrace one another. It was just another day: in the morning he went to the liturgy and I did not see him again. Why didn’t I go to the church that day to meet him? I had thought of it, but I decided I had better get the evening meal ready and put the children to bed. It was because of the children that I did not go there. There was a hand that did not let me go. But the evening before I had gone to the church and met him. I had felt as if dark clouds were gathering over us. And in the last few days I had tried to spend more time with him. Over the last week I had thought only about death and about life after death. I couldn’t get my head around either the first or the second. That day my head was spinning with the words: ‘Death is standing right behind you’. The last week everything was so hard, as if a huge load had been emptied out on top of me. I am not broken. He is supporting me, I feel as if he is standing by me. Then we said so many affectionate words, which we had never said to each other in our whole life before. Only now do I understand how much we loved each other.

The memorial service for the forty days of Fr Daniel takes place on the eve of his names day and the patronal feast of the future church, 29 December, and 30 December is the feast of the holy prophet Daniel. According to the prophecy of an elder, the church would be built but Fr Daniel would not serve in it. The second part of the prophecy has already been fulfilled.

Matushka Julia Sysoieva (translated by Fr Andrew Phillips)

 




 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2009.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

This article is at: http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2009-11-27-priest-daniel-sysoieva-murdered+letter-of-matushka-julia-sysoieva.doc

And on our blog

 

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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! (seraphim@orthodox.net)

 

 

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Gleanings from the Holy Fathers Thanksgiving, thankfulness. St John Chrysostom

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

Nov 13/26 2009 St John Chrysostom

 

john-chrysostom-01.jpg

Today is the commemoration of St John the Golden mouthed (Chrysostom), and also the day of the American Holiday of Thanksgiving.

 

St John givens us our first gleaning: before he died of tuberculosis, while traveling in exile, his last words were “Glory be to God for all things”.

 

He lived and died according to his preaching, as he had said:

 

“Even if it be disease or poverty…, for seen and unseen benefits…, and for those which we receive against our will; …but also whenever we are either in poverty, or in sicknesses, or are being insulted, then let us intensify our thanksgiving; thanksgiving, I mean, not in words, nor with the tongue, but in deeds and works, in mind and in heart; let us give thanks to Him with all our souls.” [1]

 

“Have you fallen seriously ill? This brings you the crown of martyrdom [through thanksgiving].20 Nothing is holier than that tongue which gives thanks to God in evil circumstances; truly in no respect does it fall short of that of Martyrs; both alike are crowned, both the former and the latter” [2].

 



St John Chrysostom on the Eucharist:

 

The dread Mysteries, full of such great salvation, which are celebrated at every Liturgy, are also called a Thanksgiving [Eucharistia] because they are the remembrance of many benefits, and they signify the culmination of God’s Providence towards us, and in every way cause us to be thankful to Him. [3]

 

How do we preserve our blessings?

 

Let us give thanks to God continually. For, it is outrageous that when we enjoy His benefaction to us in deed every single day, we do not acknowledge the favor with so much as a word; and this, when the acknowledgment confers great benefit on us. He does not need anything of ours, but we stand in need of all things from Him.

 

In point of fact, thanksgiving adds nothing to Him, but it brings us closer to Him. For if, when we recall the benefactions of men, we are the more warmed by affection for them; much more, when we continually bring to mind the benefits of the Master towards us, shall we be more earnest with regard to His commandments.

 

For this cause Paul also said, Be ye thankful. For the best preservative of any benefaction is the remembrance of the benefaction, and a continual thanksgiving for it[4]

 

 

What shall I render unto the Lord for all that He hath rendered unto me?

 

He brought us from non-being in being; He dignified us with reason; He provided us with crafts to help sustain our lives; He causes food to spring up from the earth; He has given us cattle to serve us. For our sake there is rain, for our sake there is the sun; the hills and plains have been adorned for our benefit, affording us refuge from the peaks of the mountains. For our sake rivers flow; for our sake fountains gush forth; the sea is made calm for our trading; riches come from mines and delights from everywhere, and the whole of creation is offered as a gift to us, on account of the rich and abundant Grace of our Benefactor towards us.

 

But why speak of minor gifts? For our sake God lived among men; for the sake of our corrupt flesh, the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. To the thankless He was their Benefactor; to those sitting in darkness, the Sun of Righteousness; upon the Cross He was the Impassible One; in death, the Life; in Hades, the Light; the Resurrection for the fallen; the spirit of adoption into sonship, bestowals of spiritual gifts, and promises of crowns.

 

In addition to such great and splendid benefits, or rather, benefits par excellence, the benefits that He promises us in the future life are many times greater: the delight of Paradise, glory in the Kingdom of Heaven, honors equal to those of the Angels, and the vision of God, which, for those counted worthy of it, is the highest of all goods; every rational nature desires this, and may we also attain to it, after we have cleansed ourselves of carnal passions.[5]

 

 

Before all else, let us list sincere thanksgiving first on the scroll of our prayer.  On the second line, we should put confession and heartfelt contrition of soul.  Then let us present our petition to the King of all.  This is the best way of prayer, as it was shown to one of the brethren by an angel of the Lord. Saint John of Sinai, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, Step 28, # 7, Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Edition, p. 213.

 

Freedom from anxiety makes it (the heart) rejoice and give thanks; and the grateful offering of thanks augments the gifts of grace it has received. And as the blessings increase, so does the thankfulness, and so does the pure prayer offered with tears of joy. Slowly the man emerges from the tears of distress and from the passions, and enters fully into the state of spiritual joy. The Philokalia, Vol. III – pp. 260 – 263

 

… he who has received a gift from God, and is ungrateful for it, is already on the way to losing it … St. Peter of Damaskos (Book 1: A Treasury of Divine Knowledge, The Philokalia Vol. 3 pg. 187)

 

… when God is thanked, He gives us still further blessings, while we, by receiving His gifts, love Him all the more and through this love attain that divine wisdom whose beginning is the fear of God (cf. Prov. 1:7). St. Peter of Damaskos (Book 1: A Treasury of Divine Knowledge, The Philokalia Vol. 3 pg.199)

 

When evening comes, collect your thoughts and ponder over the entire course of the day: observe God’s providential care for you; consider the grace He has wrought in you throughout the whole span of the day; consider the rising of the moon, the joy of daylight, all the hours and moments, the divisions of time, the sight of different colors, the beautiful adornment of creation, the course of the sun, the growth of your own stature, how your own person has been protected, consider the blowing of the winds, the ripe and varied fruits, how the elements minister to your comfort, how you have been preserved from accidents, and all the other activities of grace. When you have pondered on all this, wonder of God’s love toward you will well up within you, and gratitude for his acts of grace will bubble up inside you. John the Solitary, The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life

 

On the Magnitude of the Sin of Ingratitude

 

“Ingratitude is despicable…the most despicable thing of all. for someone who has experienced something good not to try to return the favor, even if he can manage no more than verbal thanks, he must plainly be obtuse and insensitive to his benefits, or thoughtless.” St. Gregory the Wonderworker

 

 

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. I Thess.5:18

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2009.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

This article is at: http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2009-11-26-gleanings-from-the-holy-fathers+thanksgiving+thankfulness.doc

And on our BLOG

 

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! (seraphim@orthodox.net)

 



[1] St. John Chrysostomos, Homily 19 on Ephesians, 2, Patrologia Græca, Vol. LXII, cols. 129-130. taken from the excellent article Christian Gratitude, A Fundamental Hallmark of Orthodox Spirituality, by Archimandrite Cyprian, http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/gratitude.aspx

[2] Homily 8 on Colossians, 5, Patrologia Græca, Vol. LXII, col. 357., from the article cited in note 1

[3] Homily 25 on St. Matthew, 3, Patrologia Græca, Vol. LVII, col. 331., from the article cited in note 1.

[4] St. John Chrysostomos, Homily 25 on St. Matthew, 3, Patrologia Græca, Vol. LVII, col. 331, ., from the article cited in note 1.

[5] St Basil the Great, Homily On the Martyr Julitta (and the Remainder of the Previous Homily on Thanksgiving), 6-7, Patrologia Græca, Vol. XXXI, cols. 253B-256A., ., from the article cited in note 1

 

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Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

His Holiness, Patriarch Pavle

Another glimpse into his remarkable life.

 

Nov 12/25 2009 25th Wednesday after Pentecost

 

 

Patriarch Pavle reposed recently and was buried last week. You can find video of his funeral on the Internet if you want, but I am more concerned with descriptions of the man, who was a rare man in our day, a bishop who was humble, and holy, and a pastor.

 

Here is another short description of his life (from a note circulated by Fr. Victor Potapov, emphasis not in original)

 

Dear Fr. Victor please bless!

With your blessing, I wanted to send out the following email to the parishioners as this is the third day of the repose of His Holiness Pavle of Serbia.

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters of Saint John’s,

 

Greetings from Cyprus! I am writing because today is the third day of the repose of His Holiness Patriarch (Archbishop of Pec) Pavle of Serbia and I would like to ask for your prayers for his soul. Most Serbs revered His Holiness as a living saint not only for his exceptional piety and gifts but because he stood as a living example of one who forgave his enemies and blessed those that cursed him.

 

His Holiness saw many of those dear to him (including many of his own family) murdered during the trials and conflicts of Kosovo–apart from witnessing the legions of shrines destroyed in Kosovo during his time as bishop there. Nonetheless, he evidently fought those who objected to him offering prayers during the Liturgy for both Serbs and their physical enemies–the Croats, the Albanians and even the Americans–stressing that only by forgiving and loving our enemies will these trials of the Serbs come to have any value before God.

 

Such an application of Christ’s Commandments, particularly in such extreme conditions, is hard for me to contemplate as an American or as a Westerner since I have never felt the threat of my people being extinguished merely because of what they believe. However, as an Orthodox, the threat that has faced (and still faces the Serbs) is clear since, if we remain strong in our beliefs, we too shall face it. Thus, His Holiness always taught that we should cling to our beliefs and to our cultural identity as though they are the only things that matter in this world–because they are.

 

There are scores of examples where His Holiness demonstrated that he was truly worthy of that title, not just as archbishop but as a person. He was so humble that he relocated the Liturgy he once served daily at the Patriarchate to the cafeteria across the street simply because others in the office complained. He then served coffee to the worshippers after conducting the Liturgy: during which he had used a curtain for a makeshift prothesis. In other examples, he healed, inspired and soothed simply by his prayers, homilies and mere presence.

 

In my own case, after praying to Sts. Savas and Vassileos (of Ostrog) for the opportunity, I was blessed to meet His Holiness just earlier this year while on a business trip to Belgrade. I sought his prayers for my two, sick children. Meeting him itself was remarkable: upon arriving to his hospital floor, the whole place smelled of myrrh. The priest who escorted me said, "I know, I know, that is just his smell"! After receiving his blessing, both my children have had remarkable and almost complete recoveries, despite initially more modest prognoses.

 

I am sure that in the days that follow many will come forward with remarkable stories about His Holiness Pavle. However, in focusing on this particular day–the third day of his repose–I wanted to share some of what I know of his life so that you might pray for him as you would for one of my friends or relatives, as that is how I see him. I know that he constantly prayed for all of us so this would seem to be the least that we could do.

 

Yours in Christ, Chrysostomos

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2009.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

This article is at: http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2009-11-25-his-holiness-patriarch-pavle-another-glimpse-into-his-remarkable-life.doc

And on the BLOG

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Christian Life Skills. The Jesus prayer Pray without ceasing. New Testament Challenge and the Jesus Prayer Challenge

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Christian Life Skills: The Jesus prayer

Pray without ceasing

New Testament Challenge and theJesus Prayer Challenge

Nov 11/24 25th Tuesday after Pentecost[U1] 

 

Recently, on various blogs I fail miserably in keeping up with, the “ New Testament Challenge” has been proposed. This is a suggestion to read the entire NT during the Nativity Fast. This is a good idea, and it works for some – as a pastor, I am in favor of almost anything that will get the dust off the bible in the home.

 

This got me to thinking, and I thought of another challenge – the “Jesus Prayer Challenge”. I am not trying to be gimmicky, because I hate that stuff, but as they say, I am “serious as a heart attack”. This is a longstanding COMMAND (read, not an optional “challenge”), and the church knows it is possible:

 

“Rejoice evermore.  (17)   Pray without ceasing.  (18)   In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (1Th 5:16-18)

 

How do we attain this? It is very simple: become holy (simple does not mean easy). We are called to holiness, so this MUST be our goal:

 

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Mat 5:48)

 

The holy are always praying, or even something above this, which our Savior does not call prayer, because they have no passions which send their mind away from God, and are always with Him.

 

We will not be able to do this by next week, so we must become practical, and do what we are able to do now, so that we will become able to do what we are cannot  do.

 

Perhaps a slight rewording of the Apostle’s command will help us to make a practical application to his words:

 

“Pray whenever you are able to pray; search for opportunities to pray.”

 

 

The church has always understood the “Jesus prayer” to be uniquely suited to this endeavor. Anybody can pray this pray, as often as they want, if they put their mind to it, and plan to do it.

 

When we are waiting for a bus, or early to an appointment, or driving our car, or folding laundry, we CAN say: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” We can also teach ourselves to pray this prayer when we are getting ready to speak to someone about a difficult thing, or feeling anger rise up within us because of this or that thing.

 

We may not be able to pray each prayer with attention, but we can try; how can we learn to be attentive without long periods of struggling against inattention?

 

What is stopping us? There are external things – the TV being on (a brick will fix that), listening to the radio in the car, the busyness of life, lack of planning. There are internal things – our passions and the noise in our head, laziness, desire for entertainment, mindlessness. We cannot fix the latter without doing something about the former.

 

We need to plan in order to pray. Focus on one time during the day when you are not so occupied that you cannot pray – for instance, when you are driving, or doing the dishes, or folding laundry. It must be some task that does not take a lot of mental effort; you will have difficulty saying the prayer when you are doing your math homework or balancing the checkbook!

 

Say the prayer, silently, or aloud, slowly, and with as much attention as you can muster. You may pray for yourself, or others. If you pray for yourself, say

 

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”

 

When we pray for someone else, we should leave the last part and say:

 

 “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on (name).”

 

 

It is really useful to have a prayer rope (chotki, komouskini) to count prayers. It does not matter how many we say, but it is very helpful to hold the rope and advance one bead with each prayer, to have a set amount per person, or even just to keep a sense of rhythm.

 

I have a prayer rope and use it in the car (it should be small, and held in such a way that you can drop it immediately if you need to steer out of a road hazard). This is a perfect time to pray for my family and parish. I find the simplicity of the prayer comforting and it is easier to pray with attention. I never have been one to try to remember what everybody needs and mention everything. God knows, and asking for mercy, that is His help in all things, really covers everything!

 

Some people need to mention things – sickness, or protection during travel, etc. That’s ok, but a little bit dangerous, because we are simultaneously attempting to pray and judge at the same time. Perhaps we feel a person needs something, and our judgment is wrong? Or perhaps we are so busy thinking of the next thing to say instead of just praying with attention? I remember those long lapses in the “In Jesus Name” prayers that are so common in the Protestant tradition so many years ago. They were very jarring. Do everything you can to pray without making a huge mental effort in thinking (prayer is not done with the brain, it is an expression of the soul), or you will tire. Everyone’s limitations in this regard are different. My simple mind needs quiet, and simplicity, otherwise, there is too much distraction in my head. You need to find what suits you.

 

Praying in the car is a wonderful way to “redeem the time” [1], and also to train ourselves in the discipline of prayer. What else do we really need to do when we drive? We certainly do not need the radio on – most of the information is useless, vapid and stupid, and it steals from us the opportunity to pray.

 

I have not always been equal to the task. After a long day at work, my passions want time to “veg” out on my drive home. We are tired, and maybe a little cranky after a long day, and starting to pray instead of giving into laziness actually sucks more energy out of us, but after prayer, this energy returns with a bonus.

 

Try praying in the car instead of listening to the radio, or “vegging out”. If you have a long drive, try a set period of time that includes part of the drive, if the whole time seems too daunting to you. It is better to accomplish a little thing, rather than not do a big thing! You cannot get better at something without starting to do it.

 

You might want to have a list of family and others (including your pastor) whom you care about, and in whose lives you may have some influence. You could have a list of the sick, those in prison, or undergoing some trial. God knows all the particulars. You could pray some set number of prayers for each person, say 10 (many prayer ropes are divided by a large bead into tens) or 25 or some other number that is easy to count on your prayer rope.

 

Unlike the “New Testament Challenge” there is no end point in the command to pray without ceasing, accept, of course, our death. After that, if we have not cultivated the virtues and the desire AND action of prayer, where will we learn it?  

 

This command is possible, but only if we apply effort, planning, and prayer to it. May God help us.

 

One more thing. This is important. The “Jesus prayer” is the most simple and complex prayer. Christians have reached exalted states practicing this prayer, and also fallen headlong into hell by attempting to find mystical experiences in it before they changed enough morally. The “prayer of the heart” has been accomplished by those practicing the “Jesus prayer”, but except for exceptions as rare as hen’s teeth, these people were under strict obedience to an elder. There are very few “checks and balances” for a lay person who tries to copy what he sees in the Philokalia or other places, and achieve the “prayer of the heart”.

 

Don’t look for mystical experiences. Worry about praying in the way described above in every possible moment; this will take you a long time. The fruits of prayer, if accomplished with the following of the commandments and true humility, will lead to holiness, and your prayer will lead you towards the prayer of the heart. But first things first! Pray a lot, don’t waste time, and see where that takes you.

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2009.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

This article is at: http://www.orthodox.net/journal/2009-11-24-christian-life-skills-jesus-prayer+pray-without-ceasing+new-testament-challenge+jesus-prayer-challenge.doc

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[1] “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,  (16)  Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Eph 5:15-16 KJV)


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O Joyous Light, sung by Sophie (4 y/o)

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Children singing during a childrens liturgy

Just try to not be joyous as you listen to Sophie singing "O Joyous Light" – I double dare you! 

 

I love to hear my grandchildren sing. They sing pretty well in church. They are encouraged to sing, and they love to because their home is a "singing culture". This may not be too PC for some churches, but it works for us – to tell the truth, there are usually not that many people at Vespers to get offended anyway! 

 

They sing on key, but sometimes have a little problem with rythym or big words,and they sing their little hearts out on the things they know. Sometimes, they need to be "coralled" a little, but for the most part, they sing without correction.

 

It is important to teach our children to sing! It is important to teach them to love the services! Of course they cannot learn these things unless we sing, and we love the services! 

As CSNY says: "Teach your children well!"

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24th Sunday 2009. An exposition of Ephesians 2:14-22, and the healing of the woman with an issue of blood, which make the same important point.

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

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Ephesians 2:14-22 14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Luke 8:41-56 41 And, behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue: and he fell down at Jesus’ feet, and besought him that he would come into his house: 42 For he had one only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she lay a dying. But as he went the people thronged him. 43 And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, 44 Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched. 45 And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? 46 And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me. 47 And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately. 48 And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace. 49 While he yet spake, there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue’s house, saying to him, Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master. 50 But when Jesus heard it, he answered him, saying, Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole. 51 And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden. 52 And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth. 53 And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead. 54 And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise. 55 And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat. 56 And her parents were astonished: but he charged them that they should tell no man what was done.



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Healing of the Woman with an Issue of Blood. Raising of the Daughter of Jairus. 24th Sunday after Pentecost

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

Healing of the Woman with an Issue of Blood

Raising of the Daughter of Jairus

24th Sunday after Pentecost

 

Fresco from Panayia Mavriotissa Monastery, The Miracles of Jesus: Jesus resurrecting Jairus' daughter.  (http://www.windmillstravel.com/album.php?id=63&destination=66&destinationtype=city)  miracle-healing-of-jairus-daughte+woman-with-issue-of-blood+panayia- mavriotissa-monastery.jpgIn the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen[1]

 

On today, the reading is appointed about The Healing of the Woman with an issue of blood and the raising of the Daughter of Jairus. The two miracles are recounted in the same story, and although externally they may appear to be different, they really are the same miracle.

 

By the way, we know who this woman who had an issue of blood is. Holy Tradition says that she was St. Veronica, so she is not a nameless person.

 

As we are listening to the scriptures in the liturgy today, and the preaching of them, don’t be complacent. It is very easy to just sit down, and, shall we say, “veg” out, and take your rest for a little while. We have heard this story many, many times, maybe a hundred times, but the hundred and first time that you hear it, God will teach you something, if you are listening and praying. And even seventy times seven[2] times, if you listen carefully with prayer, then God will teach you something. This information is vitally important and there is nothing more important that you can get during the week than what happens during the Divine Liturgy and the All Night Vigil on Saturday Night.

 

How can it be that we can listen to something more and more, and the more that we hear it, the more important it becomes? I ask you, what are we trying to do in this life? What is our purpose? We are trying to save our souls.

 

And how do we do this?

 

In anything in life we must have some sort of plan, some sort of roadmap. We must know God, in order to fulfill the commandments. God reveals Himself to us, and gives us the strength to become like Him in moral virtues, and to become perfected. This is what the Christian life is, it is self perfection. It is self perfection by the hand of God, with God’s help, but this perfection can only occur if we know what it is we must do! If we know the commandments, and more important even than knowing the commandments, we must know the One who gives the commandments. Because by knowing Him, we will know the commandments.

 

We must know whom we serve, so that we can be like the sheep that our Lord describes in St. John’s gospel, “My sheep follow me because they know my voice”[3]. Not intellectually, but experientially, they KNOW His voice. We need to know Him so that we will follow His commandments more easily. He said His commandments are not burdensome.[4] There is a great mystery to that statement.

 

All of our life seems to be filled with burdens, doesn’t it? And yet His commandments are not burdensome, and that is not a lie, because God is not made a liar. Why is this so? His commandments are not burdensome IF WE LEARN OF HIM, and we learn how sweet He is! Doesn’t it say, “Taste and see that the Lord is good”[5]? If we, read anything in the gospels that teaches us something about know how sweet the Lord is, we will want nothing else. If we read of miracles our Lord and Savior, and we taste something of that sweetness, it should energize us to follow the commandments just a little bit more.

 

And, God reveals Himself only to the pure. So now we have a circle. If we know God more, then we’ll follow His commandments more. And by following His commandments we will become purified and God will reveal Himself to us more. He only reveals Himself to those who are capable of understanding what He reveals and only those who will appreciate what He reveals.

 

Any opportunity you have to learn more about your Savior you should grasp for, just like a man who is starving would grasp for a crust of bread, just like a man who is in a desert and would coming upon an oasis would bury his head in the water and would take a long, long drink. That’s how we should be when we hear the scriptures. That’s how we should when we are listening and praying in the holy liturgy or in the all night vigil, or when we are saying our prayers in the morning or in the evening or at any other time.

 

But because of the fact that we are human beings, it’s hard to always have the same level of intensity. God knows this. That’s why we celebrate the Resurrection one day a week. We live in the reality of the Resurrection every day. But we don’t celebrate it every day of the week explicitly like we do on Sunday, because God knows that it would become commonplace to the vast majority of us poor wretches if we did that. Now some of the saints, they lived in the Resurrection every day, such as Saint Seraphim of Sarov. He would say ‘Christ is Risen’[6] no matter what time of the year it was. Nobody dared rebuke him, because that man was living in the Resurrection. But for the most of us, it’s not that way.

 

So there are times appointed when we should be more intense in our spiritual life. We are coming up on one now, aren’t we? We’re coming up on the Lenten period before the Nativity of our Lord very, very soon. All the other Lenten periods are times of increased intensity in the spiritual life, but on a weekly basis, Saturday and Sunday, those are God’s days. Those are the days when God is going to teach you something. So you don’t have the luxury right now to sit down and take your ease and wait for the time that I speak and then it’s time for the rest of the Liturgy.

 

This is not an interlude. This is part of your salvation, as much as it’s a part of mine. So while your body sits, your spirit should stand up. You should bend your ear. You should see what is it that God wants you to know. There is something He wants you know, and I don’t know what it is. And I know that I am an imperfect person; so are you. But if we pray, God will complete what is lacking, both in what I say and in what you understand. It is a marvelous mystery. So let’s look at these two miracles – really they’re the same miracle – and then let’s go forth in the strength of that knowledge, and God will help us to do His commandments a little bit more.

 

It says in the scriptures, “There came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue: and he fell down at Jesus’ feet, and besought him that he would come into his house: For he had one only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she lay a dying.”[7]

 

You should know from the context, if you’ve been reading the scriptures during the week, and if you remember from last week, that this is right after He had healed the Gadarene demoniac. He had done some miracles on one side of the shore. He had healed the centurion’s servant, which is very similar to the miracle here, by the way. It contrasts with it a little bit because the centurion had much, much more faith than Jairus, about the same as the woman with an issue of blood, because God commended both of them. And then He went over to the other side of the Gadarenes, and there He met the demoniac and healed him of the legion of demons. And we saw how terrible free will can be when people choose that they don’t want to know Christ. Those people asked Christ to leave from their coast and He did, and that’s a terrible tragedy.

 

So now He is right after that period of time. He’s gone back to the other side and He’s walking, He’s being thronged by hundreds of people. The press of a mob is upon Him, because after all, He was front page news. People had heard of these miracles. They had heard of these amazing things. They had heard people say He speaks with authority, not as the scribes.[8] This man is different, and people wanted to be in His presence. Those that hated Him and those that loved Him wanted to be in His presence, because there was something about Him. So there were so many people around and Jairus pushes through this crowd and he prostrates before the Lord. Saint Mark tells us a little bit more. He said, “I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her that she may be healed and she shall live.”[9]

 

And Jairus will get what he wishes, but will wait a while, because he did not have such firm faith, like the centurion Cornelius who said, “Only speak the word and my servant will be healed”[10]. ‘I don’t even need you to come to my house. In fact, I am not even worthy to come to you personally. I am sending my servant because I am unworthy. But I have the faith that you will heal my servant.’ Indeed, the centurion’s servant was healed. And indeed Jairus’ daughter will be healed, but after a very long and very difficult time for this man who loves his daughter and is fearful now for her life.

 

This man had an extreme need and it pushed him to Christ, just like us. In this case his daughter was dying. In our case it’s our sins which beset us. But as he went the people thronged him, it says. That’s important to know. There’s a mystery in this statement. The fathers bring it out. The people were thronging him. It was a mob that was around him, and yet later on He says, “Who touched me?”

 

His apostles didn’t understand what He meant. What He meant is, “there are all these people around Me, and they’re not touching Me. They’re not receiving salvation. They’re not appreciating who I am. But they’re all around Me.”

 

And there is also, we must understand, much waiting necessary on the part of Jairus, because there is this big mob, and you can’t walk quickly when there is a mob. This man who is beside himself with worry for his daughter does not have the faith of Cornelius. He has some faith, indeed, and he has confidence that the Lord will save his daughter, but at the moment he believes his daughter is alive, and he has this idea that when his daughter is dead all is lost. And then a woman comes up and spends more time, more precious time, as the clock is ticking and his daughter is dying.

 

“And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched.”[11]

 

Saint Mark also talks about this exact miracle and he says a little bit more. By the way, as an aside, I want to tell you this is a perfect example of how the Gospels were written by men inspired by God, because if you take a look at St. Luke’s Gospel and Saint Mark’s and St. Matthew’s, they describe the same event and give it a slightly different perspective, but it is quite obvious that they are saying exactly the same thing. They are describing the exact same event, and both things they say are true, but one elucidates a point a little different than another. And St. Mark gives a little more information here, very important. He says, “For she said, ‘If I may but touch His clothes, I may be whole.’[12]

 

She had great faith. There is much to learn from this very simple miracle. This woman is not even mentioned by name in the scriptures, although we know her name[13].

 

Bleeding in that day made a person unclean. A person could not go into the temple if they were bleeding. So this woman was outside of the community of faith. She couldn’t go into the temple. She couldn’t worship. She had not been in the temple for twelve long years, and she had been considered unclean for that entire period of time. She had spent all of her money on physicians, and still was incurable. She had a hopeless disease. She must have had great despondency over this disease.

 

And this disease, this bleeding, is also indicative of our sins. Don’t we hemorrhage sins? Aren’t there things that we continually do over and over again, maybe even that we don’t even know yet, or that we won’t even admit within ourselves, even when we are alone in our closet, that we do and that are wrong with us? But we are hemorrhaging. The blood is flowing on the floor.

 

This woman had an issue of blood. And in the same way that this woman was healed, we must be healed. She touched Christ. Not incidentally, not a shoulder of a hip touching him in the way of the crowd. But she touched his garment with faith and with belief and with hope. And she was made whole, because bleeding is a sign of lack of wholeness, a sign of sickness. But our Lord is the great Physician. The mystery of our life is how we are made whole, how we’re made complete. And God makes us complete. And we can see that in this woman.

 

Well, this woman was discovered. She really shouldn’t have done what she did in terms of the law, because she was unclean. She was supposed to stay away from those people that were clean, just like lepers would stay away from those that were clean, and cry out, “unclean, unclean” as people went by, so that they wouldn’t touch them accidentally and be sullied, because then they’d have to go and wash themselves according to Jewish law. And she was discovered by the Lord, because the Lord knows everything. And He made a ruckus about this because he wanted to show something, to us and to Jairus.

 

And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me.”[14]

 

He said it to point out her faith, and He also said this to show what touching Christ really is. His disciples didn’t understand yet. They were still unformed, and were still arguing about who is the greatest. They didn’t understand yet, but, oh, they would. The leaven was good in them, and our Lord was bringing them to fruition, but they did not understand yet.

 

What is this touching? This touching is prayer with faith.

 

Doesn’t it say,

 

“And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”?[15]

 

And doesn’t is also say,

 

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”?[16]

 

But you must ask in faith. You must ask without doubting, without wavering, otherwise you are like the waves tossed about in the sea like St. James talks about.[17]

 

Out Lord also said that virtue was gone out of Him, because he is the God-man. No Saint would say ‘virtue is gone out me’. What a blasphemous thing. You would run from the room that such a man is in, because Satan would be in that man, but our Lord and Savior was making a statement of His divinity. You see, every word in the scriptures is important. We must read them carefully, over and over again, because we a very foolish and dull people, and it takes a long time to learn everything that the Lord wants us to know, even in the scriptures, much less the Holy mysteries, and in all that he reveals to us in our hearts in that still small voice in which He talks to us.

 

And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately. And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.”[18]

 

She proclaims the reason. Look at her faith. The Lord commends her for her faith. He does not commend Jairus. He heals Jairus’ daughter, but Jairus is on a lower rung than this woman. She is like Cornelius was, like the Woman of Canaan was, like Lazarus, with the sores by the gate of the rich man was. This is an example for us to imitate. This is why the Lord made this woman known to everyone.

 

There is another reason as well, an incidental reason. She was afraid that she had “stolen” this miracle, and here conscience bothered her. Can you believe this? This is a woman who had endured 12 long years of suffering, and her conscience bothered her, that she not beseeched the Lord verbally, and asked His permission to be healed. Would that we have that kind of humility.

 

So the Lord comforted here, and calmed the tempest in her, and I tell you, she followed Him to the end of her days and became a great saint, on the strength of what He did for her. The other reason why He brought this miracle to light was to make Jairus confident that his daughter would be healed. Our Lord knew that the girl was going to die. She might be dead already. He knew that He would not get there in time, and He knew that Jairus needed something to hold on to, so he made this miracle evident. It was is if He said, ‘Yes, Jairus, I am the God-man, and I can do anything that I wish, and I have told you that I would heal your daughter, and IT WILL BE SO.’

 

And it continues in the scriptures: While he yet spake” (to the woman, that is), “there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue’s house, saying to him, Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master.”[19]

 

It seems that this was a side conversation, a whispering in the ear of the ruler of the synagogue. ‘Don’t bother Him’, but our Lord heard. Imagine the heart of Jairus at the time. My daughter is dead, the light of my life, all is lost. He was hopeless, because he did not have strong faith yet. Death was final to him. It is NOT final. We know this because we are Christians.

 

This hopelessness is similar to what the woman with the issue of blood, St. Veronica, had, but she had great faith in the midst of her hopelessness, and was healed. And Jesus heard this side conversation, someone saying ‘Don’t bother Him’, and before Jairus could even start to weep, He said: ”Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole.”[20] SHE SHALL BE MADE WHOLE. And you, Jairus, shall also be made whole, because you will see what I can do.

 

“Believe only” – that does not mean to do NOTHING except believe! That means ACT according to what you believe! This is the Christian life. In the Christian life, we don’t just believe, we act according to how we believe.

 

Sometimes it is difficult to act this way. Sometime we have sins that we want to hold on to , and it takes effort to loosen their grip on us. Other times, terrible happen to us, and it takes great patience on our part to LIVE ACCORDING TO FAITH. And this is what is happening to Jairus now. His daughter lies dead, and the body is growing cold, and the God man says ‘Only believe”. So Jairus walks with him, and there is a germ of hope in his breast, and there is also still a terrible fear alongside. It’s all right! Perfect love casteth out fear.[21] And when he sees what the God man will do, certainly he will grow to have perfect love, and all fear will be cast out from his heart.

 

There is a lesson in the road that Jairus is traveling. Who knows how long it was, whether it be a hundred feet, or a thousand, whether it would have taken a minute or an hour. It must have seemed like days to Jairus, but he had to act above his circumstances. He had to accept what the Lord was saying to him, and he had to move with Him, and follow Him. We must do the same thing. We must listen when Christ says ‘Only believe’, as long as we understand that this does not mean just an intellectual assent to something.

 

It means acting upon what our Lord has TOLD us to do, because He is the God-man. He has the right to tell us things, and He has told us many things to do, many commandments.

 

And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden.”[22]

 

What He was trying to do was show us humility. He was trying to keep the miracle quiet. He orchestrated every occurrence in His ministry. There was nothing that happened without His consent, and without His blessing. They tried to kill Him much, much before He was actually crucified. In the first year of His ministry, he obtained mortal enemies who tried to kill Him, and we can see in the gospels mysterious passages that say things like ‘They brought him to the brow of a hill to cast Him down, and he passed within their midst”[23]. We don’t even know what this means! Sometimes He kept miracles quiet, other times he said to proclaim it to everyone. Such as he said to the former Gadarene demoniac: ‘proclaim to your poor brethren who have asked me to leave, proclaim who I am, and some of them may yet be saved’[24].

 

He brought only his chief disciples, Peter, James and John, along with the father and mother inside a little bit into the house, and met those who were mourning the little girl.

 

“And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth. {53} And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead.”[25]

 

He said this so that they would proclaim that she was dead, so that no one would say. “Oh, she was only asleep”, or “this was only slight of hand’, or this was only ‘mob hysteria’. This person was really dead, and everyone who laughed at him proclaimed it, to show that this was a real miracle. And He also wanted to show that those who do not believe, and scoff at holy things are not worthy to see miracles, They are not worthy to see God act, so He cast them out of the house.

 

“And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise. And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat. And her parents were astonished: but he charged them that they should tell no man what was done.”[26]

 

In St. Marks gospel, is other important information. Although he gives this miracle privately, in front of only a few people, to show His humility, He also is the God-man! And how did He resurrect this maiden?

 

“And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise”.[27]

 

 I am the God-man. I have power over death, and I reclaim you from Hades. That is not the way that someone would heal who is just a mere mortal. He has the authority to say ‘I say to thee, arise’.

 

Do you see how these miracles are the same? Do you understand the connection, how they were one by faith? One had greater faith than the other, and you see what happened with her? She was given what she wanted right away. Of course, she had suffered twelve years. By the way, the daughter was also twelve years old. This is interesting. The woman had suffered twelve long years of being unclean, of being ostracized. Because the Jews were not very kind to those they thought were unclean. They thought God was judging them and so they would heap abuse on such people. They did not understand mercy in the law, they only understood the black and white in the law. Our Lord came to show them the mercy that was in the law.

 

So this woman was healed immediately, if you can say after twelve years is immediately. And Jairus was a good man and had faith. He was a ruler of a synagogue now, and so many of the synagogues did not want to have anything to do with Christ, because the Pharisees and the Sadducees were putting people out of the synagogues if they would follow Christ. Many people wanted the admiration of men, rather than to worship God. But this man was rather courageous. We have to give him his due. He was also like the man who said “Lord I believe, help Thou my unbelief”[28] (the one who had the demoniac son). But because of his lack of faith, our Lord, shall we say, did it the hard way for him. It was a longer road.

 

I think this is the road most of us must travel, because we don’t have that kind of faith, like the woman with an issue of blood, St. Veronica, or that Cornelius had, or that St. Photini had, or so many of the other Saints that our Lord spoke to and saw their faith, and they reacted with such love and fervor so quickly to him. We are a little bit colder, a little more hard-hearted. We look at our circumstances and they appall us too easily, and they overwhelm us too easily, even thought we have the God-man in our hearts. We don’t seem to understand that fully, so it is a little bit more difficult for us.

 

 The previous Sunday the epistle was quite remarkable. It said: read in the epistle:

 

“But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ”[29]… “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”[30]

 

 I could speak for an hour on this, because these verses, among others in the bible, are among the most badly interpreted, and give rise to some of the worst heresies man has ever known – this idea that faith and works are not linked.

 

There is that word again, faith. Faith is living according to Who the God-man is! We see this faith lived out in St. Veronica and Jairus. We see Christ as a healer. He heals what is infirm. He completes what is lacking. We see that this issue of blood shows uncleanness, the torrent of our sins, alienation from God, hopelessness. And death is for many, hopelessness, and it is certainly something beyond our power.

 

What is your issue of blood?

 

What is it that you cannot conquer?

 

For what passion does the Devil say to you ‘Thy daughter is dead, trouble not the Master’?

 

For what passion does that temptation come into your heart?

 

That is what the devil says: ‘Trouble not the Master. You won’t improve. You won’t get better. You will always have problems with anger. You’ll NEVER get better. You will never stop having lust and uncleanness, you will ALWAYS be lazy, you will always have unbelief in your heart. You will always fall into this and that sin, again and again. So Trouble not the Master. Give it up. Or better yet, you may as well give yourself up to these sins, since you cannot conquer them’.

 

Every page of the scripture says that the Devil is a LIAR, because we KNOW that we can conquer our sins. We see the God-man conquer sins on every page of the gospel, and make complete everything that is lacking in a man. Today’s epistle is classic Christological thought about the God-man, WHO HE IS, and by inference, WHY we can trust in Him and why we will be saved if we follow Him.

 

The Apostle Paul says:

 

“For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;”

 

This refers to the two natures of Christ, God and man, UNITED in ONE person, united in a mystical, but REAL way that we cannot understand, but that is effecting our salvation. And he continues

 

“and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.”

 

He was talking to the Gentiles there, and we should all consider ourselves to be a Gentile.

 

“For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”[31]

 

I hope that you know something of who the God-man is, and will know more and more as you continue to live. And grasp the robe of Christ with faith. And God will heal you of all your infirmities if you have faith. Amen.

 

Bibliography:

Old Believer Sermon for the 24th Sunday after Pentecost (unpublished)

“Drops From the Living Water”, Bishop Augustinos, Pp. 172-175

“The One Thing Needful”, Archbishop Andrei of Novo-Diveevo – Pp. 146-148

“Commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke”, St. Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria, Pp. 195-203

“The Commentary by Blessed Theofylact on the Gospel of St. Mark”

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2009.     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

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[1] This homily was transcribed from one given On October 17th , 1996 according to the church calendar, (11/24 ns), being the Twenty Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, and the day appointed for the commemoration St. Ioannicius the Great and Hieromartyrs Nicander and Hermas. The Epistle reading appointed is Ephesians Eph 2:14-22, and the Gospel is Luke 8:41-56. The story recounted, that of the Healing of the Woman with an issue of blood and the raising of the Daughter of Jairus, is also given in Mark:6:22-43. There are some stylistic changes and minor corrections made and several footnotes have been added, but otherwise, it is essentially in a colloquial, “spoken” style. It is hoped that something in these words will help and edify the reader, but a sermon read from a page cannot enlighten a soul as much as attendance and reverent worship at the Vigil service, which prepares the soul for the Holy Liturgy, and the hearing of the scriptures and the preaching of them in the context of the Holy Divine Liturgy. In such circumstances the soul is enlightened much more than when words are read on a page.

 

[2] Cf. Matthew 18:22. This is an indication of an infinite number.

[3] Cf. John 10:4

[4] Cf. Matthew 11:30, “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

[5] Psalm 34:1

[6] This is part of the Paschal Troparion (in this context, a hymn which “sums up” the meaning of the feast, and is sung in one of eight melodies): “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life”. The traditional greeting Orthodox Christians give each other in the forty days following Pascha (until the Ascension) is: “Christ is risen”, to which the response it, “Truly He is risen”.

[7] Luke 8:41-42

[8] Cf. Matthew 7:29, Mark 1:22

[9] Mark 5:23

[10] Cf. Matthew 8:8, Luke 7:7

[11] Luke 8:43-44

[12] Mark 5:28 (also cf. Matthew 9:21)

[13] Veronica

[14] Luke 8:45-46

[15] Matthew 21:22

[16] Luke 11:9-10

[17] Cf. James 1:6

[18] Luke 8:47-48

[19] Luke 8:49

[20] Luke 8:50

[21] John 4:18

[22] Luke 8:51

[23] Cf. Luke 4:29,30 (They) “rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong. But he passing through the midst of them went his way.”

[24] Cf. Luke 8:39

[25] Luke 8:52

[26] Luke 8:54-56

[27] Mark 5:41

[28] Mark 9:24

[29] Ephesians 2:4-5

[30] Ephesians 2:9-10

[31] Ephesians 2:14-22 (the entire reading for the 24th Sunday after Pentecost)

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