Archive for the ‘Pascha:Sundays of’ Category

A feastday for all us Samaritans. Do you hear the conversation? Sunday of the Samaritan Woman, John 4:5-42

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

the Woman at the Well

Synopsis: The conversation and conversion of the Samaritan woman by the well, recorded only in John, is the conversation of Christ with the soul. This is good news for us, as the future Equal to the Apostles Photini (Svetlana) was not a good woman – she had many sins – and we are not good either, however, she listened to the Lord, even as He sternly corrected her false beliefs and immoral lifestyle. The same conversation is happening to us, every day. Are you listening? Do you know how to listen? St Photini teaches us.

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More homilies on the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman are HERE

John 4:5-42 5 Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. 7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. 8 (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) 9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. 10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. 11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? 12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? 13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. 15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. 16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. 17 The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: 18 For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. 19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. 21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. 25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. 26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he. 27 And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her? 28 The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, 29 Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? 30 Then they went out of the city, and came unto him. 31 In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. 32 But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. 33 Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat? 34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. 35 Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. 36 And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. 37 And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. 38 I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours. 39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did. 40 So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his own word; 42 And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.


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“Having become bold” What made Joseph, Nicodemus and the Myrrh‑Bearers bold? Myrrh‑Bearing Women Mark 15:43‑16:8 2012

Monday, May 20th, 2013

 

Myryhhbearers with the Angel at the empty tomb. http://www.orthodox.net/ikons/myrhhbearers-02.jpgIn the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

 

Christ is risen! Truly He is risen! Hristos voskrese! Voistinu voskrese!

 

I want to tell you, before I begin, about some people that I want you to remember during the Liturgy. There is an especially important time, right after the Epiklesis, the calling down of the Holy Spirit[1], when we are to pray for those we especially care for or that have special needs. We also of course commemorate sometimes people that have special needs in the entrance, in the Great Entrance ‑‑ which will be coming up soon ‑‑ and also of course we have the custom of praying from a list, a public list, of people for just their general needs, travelers and among the sick.

 

Now, among the sick that I want you to remember, I want you to do this after the Epiklesis, now, because this is a holy responsibility of everyone. It is not only the responsibility of the clergy, absolutely not! Everyone should pour their heart out to God during the Divine Liturgy. And this time after the Epiklesis, is the time especially to pray with your heart for God.

 

[Several people and their needs were mentioned] Try to remember those names, and as a sacred trust during the Epiklesis pray for those people. It's very, very important. We are not passive in Liturgy. It's part of the reason why we stand and part of the reason why pews are such a terrible thing: Because they encourage passivity. You are participants in the Liturgy. The Liturgy means "the work of the people". It's not the work of Father Nicholas and myself. It's the work of the people. So pray for those people, okay? And you will hear them in the entrance and also hear them in the list of people that we pray for in the fervent Ektenia.

 

Joseph and Nicodemus take Jesus off the cross. http://www.orthodox.net/ikons/cross-joseph-and-nicodemus-01.jpg Among the most important words in today's Gospel that are truly amazing, that are too big to talk about or understand, are when it says that Joseph become bold. Remember, our Lord had just been crucified. The Jews were looking to kill everybody that was associated with Him. People were in terror. Everybody had run away. But Joseph became bold. This is a marvelous thing. It was dangerous to go and ask for the body of Jesus, who was a known felon, a criminal, a heretic. Boldness doesn't care about danger.

 

You know what boldness cares about? It is only one thing. True Christian boldness is based on one virtue. Love. Where there is love there is not fear. Now, I don't mean that you won't have emotional fear, but you won't be paralyzed with your fear.

 

Absolutely, Joseph was frightened when he did this, but he knew he had to do it. His heart told him he had to do it, and so he became bold and did it, and he went in to crave the body of Jesus and got it, and Nicodemus helped; St. John adds that detail. And they worked very quickly in order to be able to put Him in the grave in order to still abide by the Jewish Sabbath which was fast approaching.

 

This kind of boldness is what you and I need, brothers and sisters. It's the same boldness that the Myrrh‑Bearing Women had because they also were doing something extremely dangerous, and not only this; but they didn't even have any idea how they were going to accomplish it. There was a gigantic stone that had to be rolled with many men using a fulcrum to be able to get it in front of the tomb, and now the tomb was guarded by the best of the best, the centurions, hard men who wouldn't hesitate to kill someone. They weren't going to help roll away the stone.

 

They had no idea how they were going to accomplish their task, but they were bold. They had been frightened before but then they were bold. Where there is the love of God, perfect love casteth out fear. We have to aim to have this kind of love, brothers and sisters, and this kind of boldness.

 

We are now in an era where there are a lot of micro persecutions. There will be major ones soon enough. But there are micro persecutions now. Perhaps your management is coercing you to give to the United Way. The United Way gives to a lot of things that are completely un‑Christian. You hear people talk about different kinds of immorality and perhaps you feel afraid to say what you really feel.

 

I have noticed that there are Christians now, Orthodox Christians that are changing their opinions about things that God has always spoken of, because they're afraid. They see that most other people don't have this opinion; it seems like most of the world doesn't have this opinion.

 

You must beg the Lord to help you be bold. But this boldness comes from love, an all‑consuming love for the Lord. We must have this boldness.

 

Now, an interesting thing, a very important thing about the boldness of Joseph and Nicodemus and the Myrrh‑Bearing Women, is that what they were doing was because of a misunderstanding. Our Lord said He would rise again. He had made it very clear. In retrospect, they understood that it was clear. So what need would they have to anoint the body? None. Our hymns even say that: "Why do you seek for the living among the dead?". He is alive. But they thought He was dead. But their love for Him made them bold even though only shortly before they had been terrified and they didn't get it right. The Myrrh‑Bearers were going on an errand for someone Who was not there. But they didn't know that. And so with what they knew, with their feeble understanding, they acted out of love.

 

And if you act out of love, God will always make a good come out of it. Always, without fail. You might not see the good. There might be bad things that happen to you. But always, always God's Word will not fail to return back to Him. And the love that we give to God will always be good, always cause our Lord to work in some merciful and unseen way that will be for our salvation and the salvation of others. Every time, without exception.

 

So the fact that the Myrrh‑Bearers were doing something that showed that they did not understand what the Lord had been talking about for the past three years, is not important. And you must apply this to your life. I have learned now, being a priest for so many years, there's so much ignorance. Oftentimes I feel like I don't know anything and yet I do. Based upon whatever knowledge I have and the small amount of love that I have for God, I do. And then I see things happen that are completely unrelated to what I thought was going to happen.

 

It should be that way with you, too. Ignorance is no excuse. You still have to act on what you know with boldness. Don't be afraid. Act on what you know because of love for God. You will have many opportunities, today, tomorrow, the rest of your life, always to act with boldness and love for God. And your ignorance God will enlighten. But only those who love God will He enlighten. So we must follow the example of these Myrrh‑Bearers and of Joseph and Nicodemus and be bold.

 

Now, boldness comes out of a deep longing to be with God, a deep love for Him. You don't have to be smart. You don't have to be theologically astute, but you do have to desire to know the things of God. I would say it's not possible to be bold if we don't cultivate our love for God through our prayer, through fasting, through reading of holy things, through the Services. Otherwise, our hearts are cold. We might know a few things. But we will be making compromises in our lives and we won't even realize that. Many times. Or when we do realize, then we will have dug ourselves a hole; we will be afraid to speak the truth at that point.

 

Cultivate your love for God, and realize that you are a soldier; you're called to service. The Scripture says the Kingdom of Heaven is being won by violence. That violence is our boldness to do what is right because of love for God, no matter what the consequences.

 

So let us follow the example of these Myrrh‑Bearers, of Joseph and Nicodemus who acted in boldness. That boldness was given to them by God. They didn't possess it on their own. It was given to them because of their love for Him, not because of their knowledge, because they were wrong; they were administering to a dead man and He wasn't dead.

 

Let us be like these holy saints. Cultivate your love for God, brothers and sisters, and look for opportunities to be bold. And when you're not bold, when you're afraid to make the Sign of the Cross in front of a bunch of people you don't know or your family or at your business meeting, or when you're afraid to speak out when people are saying things that are wrong, or when you do not feel moral authority because of your own sins, force yourself to be bold. This latter obstacle is probably the major source where we are not bold, where we need to correct someone whom we love, but we look at ourselves and we think I'm such a terrible person, I have no right at all, no strength to be able to talk to this person. That's not humility acting. That's cowardice. You have no right to not do something good because you think you are bad!

 

If you have boldness before God, it is because of love for God and even in the midst of knowing your sins, God will tell you, call your name; and you must be like Samuel and say, "Here am I." Then, no matter what it is, do it. There's many things all of us need to do. But it starts with loving God, and the love for God will wash away our ignorance and our timidity. May God grant it. Amen.

 

Transcribed by Helen, May the Lord save her and her loved ones.

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2012

 

This and other Orthodox materials are available in from:

St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas

 

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This homily is at:

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[1] The Epiclesis occurs during the Anaphora, which is the time when the gifts of bread and wine are offered up, and the celebrant begs the Holy Spirit to transform them into the body and blood of Christ. The Greek word "Epiclesis" means "invocation" or "calling down from on high", and is the part of the Liturgy that occurs when the people are singing slowly: "We praise thee, we bless thee, we give thanks unto Thee, O Lord, and we pray unto Thee, O our God".

 

You can know that it has ended when a hymn to the Theotokos is sung. Here is an edited transcript of what occurs in the liturgy during this time:

 

The Priest says aloud:

 

Take, eat: this is my Body which is broken for you, for the remission of sins.

 

and

 

Drink of it, all of you: this is My Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for you and for many, for the remission of sins.

 

and

 

Thine own of Thine own we offer unto Thee, in behalf of all, and for all.

 

At this point in the liturgy is another good time to offer up your secret prayers for the people that matter the most to you. This is been suggested by certain modern fathers, and it is good advice. I always pause for a moment and remember the people that are on my heart at this time as well as at the end.

 

The people are singing:

 

We praise thee, we bless thee, we give thanks unto Thee, O Lord, and we pray unto Thee, O our God.

 

During this time the priest is invoking the Holy Spirit and begging that He change the gifts offered, the bread and wine, into the body and blood of Christ.

 

At the end, the priest exclaims aloud:

 

Especially for our most holy, most pure, most blessed, glorious Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary.

 

At this time, in most liturgies served during the year, the following hymn is sung:

 

It is truly meet to bless thee, the Theotokos, ever blessed and most blameless, and mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and beyond compare more glorious than the Seraphim, who without corruption gavest birth to God the Word, the Very Theotokos: thee do we magnify.

 

This is the time referred to in this homily, a holy time to put forth your most deep desires to the Lord. It is good to have a list if you have trouble remembering, and pray simply, and forcefully: "Lord have mercy on ____". This is a holy moment; DON'T miss it!

 

 

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Thomas is just like us in at least one way; it must be in two ways if we are to be saved.

Monday, May 13th, 2013

St Thomas Sunday IconLISTEN NOW

Synopsis: The Apostle Thomas is a perfect example of how we are, deep inside. We have doubts, problems, unresolved issues. We must follow his example to resolve all these problems. We also talk about the closing of the doors in the altar on Bright Saturday night, and what it means. It is VERY related to the story of Thomas, which must become our story if we are to be saved.

More homilies on the Thomas Sunday are HERE

John 20:19-31 19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 20 And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the LORD. 21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: 23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. 24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the LORD. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. 26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God. 29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. 30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.


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The Healing of the Blind man – without courage there will never be healing.

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Healing of the Blind ManLISTEN NOW

Synopsis: What is the most important part of the healing of the blind man story? It is undoubtedly the courage of the blind man and how because of his courage he was brought to full enlightenment and healing. Our healing in Christ will not proceed to completion without personal courage. It does not matter how talented, intelligent or knowledgeable you are, or whether you have more self control than most and your life is in good order or not – without personal courage and willingness to stand up and be a Christian in our post Christian age (a misnomer term, there has never been a "Christian" age, since the world has always been against Christ), you will not be healed of your passions and sins and achieve perfection. The dialogue of the blind man with the Pharisees of his age (every age has them), shows how we incrementally become wiser and sounder in soul as we react to whatever the world brings to is with courage, and with what we know at the time. This is an "every man" kind of story. The blind man had no special talent, nor did he have complete knowledge (his answers showed him growing in knowledge), but he was courageous, and because of this, he gained not only physical eyes, but also spiritual ones. Anyone who is tempted to cave in to the political correctness of this age, which demands certain ways of thinking, speaking and acting, needs to ponder the healing of the blind man in great detail.

More homilies on the 6th sunday of Pascha, The Sunday of the Blind man, are HERE

John 9:1-38 1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? 3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. 4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. 6 When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, 7 And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing. 8 The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged? 9 Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he. 10 Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened? 11 He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight. 12 Then said they unto him, Where is he? He said, I know not. 13 They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind. 14 And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes. 15 Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see. 16 Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them. 17 They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet. 18 But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight. 19 And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see? 20 His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: 21 But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself. 22 These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. 23 Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him. 24 Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner. 25 He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see. 26 Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes? 27 He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples? 28 Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses' disciples. 29 We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is. 30 The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes. 31 Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. 32 Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. 33 If this man were not of God, he could do nothing. 34 They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out. 35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? 36 He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? 37 And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. 38 And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.


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She left her waterpot! The extreme humility and faith of the Samaritan Woman.

Monday, May 14th, 2012

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Synopsis: The story of the woman at the well, St Photini (Svetlana) has an enormous amount of deep and important theology, but the most important part is the personality of the Samaritan woman must be understood an emulated to understand any of it. She was very humble; when the Lord exposed her sin, she stayede with Him to hear more. When she understood Him, she left her waterpot. We esplore these two actions. She was an extremist. We cannot be saved unless we are too.


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Two homilies on the 4th Sunday of Pascha. Faith must deal with despondency and the variable relationship of faith to miracles.

Monday, May 7th, 2012

Healing of the Paralytic by the Sheeps poolSynopsis: The Healing of the Paralytic by the sheep's pool has many deep theological concepts in it, but none of this matters if we do not adopt the character and faith of the paralytic. We examine his patience and also his despondency. All true faith must battle with despondency. The paralytic and other examples during this Paschal period, such at the Apostle Thomas and Peter, and the Myrrh bearing women teach us this critical lesson.

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More text and audio homilies on the 4th Sunday of Pascha, the Paralytic are HERE

John 5:1-15 1 After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. 3 In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water. 4 For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. 5 And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? 7 The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me. 8 Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk. 9 And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath. 10 The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed. 11 He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk. 12 Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk? 13 And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place. 14 Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. 15 The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.


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Peter raises Tabitha, part of a mosaic in San Vitale, at Ravenna, early 6th century.source http://www.comeandseeicons.com/t/pdg15.htmSynopsis: Exegesis of Acts 9:32-42, the reading for the 4th Sunday of Pascha. Two miracles of Peter. The variable relationship of faith to miracles.

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Acts 9:32-42 32 And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda. 33 And there he found a certain man named Aeneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy. 34 And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately. 35 And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord. 36 Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha, which by interpretation is called Dorcas: this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did. 37 And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber. 38 And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them. 39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them. 40 But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up. 41 And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive. 42 And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord.


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Just do the right thing. All the time. God will roll away the stone. Myrhbearing Women. Next text homily.

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012


3rd Sunday of Pascha – The Myrrhbearing Women

Just do the right thing.  All the time.  God will roll away the stone.

Mark 15:43 – 16:8

2010

 

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

 

Christ is risen!  Truly He is risen!  Christos voskrese!  Voistinu voskrese!

 

Brothers and sisters, when we read the Scriptures, sometimes there must be detailed exegesis in order to really understand it, such as we say the Lord was the Bread from Heaven, or speaking about the Eucharist or the Beatitudes, or other places in the Scripture which are really theologically dense, and take a lot of study to understand. 

 

And other times, like today, it's a story and we glean the characteristics of the people involved from what they did.  Their actions show us their personalities, and teach us theology if we listen. 

 

This is one of those times. 

St Joseph of Arimathea and Nikodemus and the Myrhhbearing women at the cross http://www.orthodox.net/ikons/cross-joseph-and-nicodemus-01.jpg

This is the Sunday of the Myrrhbearing Women.  We also celebrate Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus who took down Christ from the Cross and buried Him in Joseph's tomb. 

 

And we know the story. 

 

The women, after the Sabbath had passed, early Sunday morning, at five or six, when the sun is coming up, and they are going to the tomb.  And they wondered, who can roll away the stone from the tomb because it's very big.  They don't know how they're going to do it, and yet they still go, and they were going with myrrh and aloes in order to anoint a dead man.  And they went at a time when it was dangerous to go.  They were approaching a tomb where there were armed soldiers who could have killed them and nobody would have thought anything of it.  And yet they went.

 

It's interesting, if you look at the tense of the verb tense; it says he became bold[1].  He became bold and craved the body of Jesus from Pilate.  He wasn't bold before, but he became bold. 

 

This teaches us something, I think, if we listen.  There are times when we are not very bold.  But there are critical moments in our life; we have to stand up and we have to be bold.  And God will help us with it. 

 

We don't always get it right.  Joseph didn't.  Joseph heard all of His teachings.  So did Nicodemus.  Nicodemus, very early in the Gospel of John, saw Christ and He said, “you must be born again”, and Nicodemus didn't understand it.  But they still followed Christ, and they were still in their positions of authority and they couldn't quite give them up because they weren't really sure.  They loved Christ but they weren't so sure, not as sure as Peter and James and John and the rest, who had left all to follow Him[2].  And yet when it came to a critical moment in Joseph's life, he became bold, and he went in to get the body of Jesus. 

 

The Gospel today also describes a critical moment in the lives of the Myrrhbearers.  Their teacher, their friend, their son in one case, had given them so much hope, and then He died in a horrible way, and yet there was something they had to do.  They had to go and anoint Him because of love.  They were bold too.

 

To become bold doesn't mean you do something without being scared.  It means you do something despite the fact that you're scared, or confused, or whatever.

 

That's what courage is.  Courage is to do things regardless of how you feel, and that's what the Myrrhbearing Women did, and that's what Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus did, and that's what we must do.  And there will be moments in our life when we have to be bold, not just one, but many moments. 

 

There are critical moments in our life; we must stand up and be Christians, especially in a society now that is ceasing to be Christian in so many ways.  Some would say, we should say it has ceased to be Christian.  But certainly in so many ways, even when it calls itself Christian, it is a far thing from true Christianity, true morality.  We call ourselves Christian but we must be true, so that takes courage. 

 

So there are critical moments in your life that will happen.  They will happen again and again.  If you do not notice them, if you have not noticed them, then you have already lost because I tell you, they've happened.  In the work place, with friends, with family, they happen, where you have to be bold, and you have to stand up for truth.  Perhaps you will shake a little bit in your boots, but you must stand up for truth just as the Myrrhbearers did. 

 

And also, it doesn't matter, when you stand up for this truth, whether you deem it possible or not or that there are going to be good or bad consequences from what you do.  Really, you just do what's right.  That's a good slogan, if you will, or a good way of life. 

 

Just do the right thing.  All the time.

 

Or, shall we say, what you think is right.  Because the Myrrhbearers thought they were doing the right thing, or they were trying to do something that was impossible.  They were trying to anoint a dead Man when actually He was alive.  But God counts it towards their righteousness because of their hearts.  So we must do what is right, even when it's difficult. 

 

There are a lot of critical moments when you must do what's right and you don't see that a good consequence is going to come, or perhaps you don't see that anything good is going to happen, or perhaps you think maybe nothing is going to change.  I have that temptation all the time.  So what?  Serving Vespers, is anything really going to change?  Yes, a lot is going to change.  I know that in my heart.  But my head doesn't always feel it.  And since I am human, I think I know something about you guys since you're human and you feel the same thing sometimes. 

 

So the women go to the tomb thinking, who is going to roll away the stone, a gigantic stone in front of the tomb with large guards in front of the tomb with swords.  How in the world were they going to get in the tomb?  They had no idea, no idea at all.  Someone might say that was a fool's errand that they hadn't figured out what to do.  But they knew it was right and they just did it. 

 

That's how we should do things.  I'm not saying we shouldn't plan our lives.  I'm not saying we shouldn't plan when we want to do something that's good and decide how we are going to do it.  Absolutely.  But there's a certain point in your life where you might say I'm going to do what's right no matter what the consequences are or no matter how we are even going to do it.

 

To be honest with you, my mind is really quite a bit preoccupied right now, trying to get into the temple[3].  In many ways, the temple has had big stones around it.  Mike and I were just talking yesterday.  I don't know if you know this.  We had money with a bank and we were going to take the money out so that it would be available so that we can purchase the land.  This was several years ago.  We didn't know it, but this was just before a financial crisis in which the money that we had in that money market would have been worth less than 25 percent of its value.  We took it out and two weeks later, poof!  God guided us.  We didn't know it at the time.  We would have been destitute, but it didn't happen. 

 

So now, we go through with a lot of difficulties and, really, some real big difficulties at the end.  But if any of you are runners – some of us are – you know, the littlest hill seems really, really, really big at the end of your run. 

 

So we're at the end, and there are some little hills, but they seem really, really big, but God will help us.  Just applying what these people did in this Gospel.  Do what's right.  We pray, we fast, we struggle, and God will help us. 

 

Someone is going to roll away the stone.  I'm not sure how, but it's going to happen.  I think that's the way we need to live our lives.  And the impossible becomes possible.

 

Christianity is all about the impossible being made possible.  God says that we are to be perfect.  It's not an idle command.  This is what we are to become:  Perfect.  It doesn't seem very possible, not when I take stock of my life, and yet it is happening; that stone is being rolled away right now. 

 

So we must do what's right.  We must look for critical moments in our life and just do what's right, no matter how hard it seems.  No matter how impossible it seems.  No matter whether it seems like it's going to have good consequences or bad. 

 

Sometimes I'm speaking of actual critical moments where there is something you must do and it could have a good result or a bad result and you don't know what's going to happen.  For the most part in our life, we must just do what's right.

 

We must pray; we must fast; we must struggle even though we don't feel or see the results from this[4].

 

If you're a Christian, you know the results are happening, but you don't really see them – sort of like a flower opening.  You don't see it open and yet, in a day or two, it has bloomed.  That's what the Christian life is like.  We don't see our flower opening.  We don't see our stone being rolled away, and yet it gets rolled away. 

 

There's another thing that I gleaned from the lives from this story about the Myrrhbearers.  So they go to the tomb.  Picture yourself.  You're going to the tomb; you're scared half to death because this is dangerous what you're doing.  You can go to the soldiers and they might just kill you.  And so you go, not knowing how you're going to get past the soldiers, how you're going to get into the tomb.  And then the soldiers are gone or laying about as stupefied, terrified men, the stone has been rolled away and you speak to an angel[5].  What an amazing thing. 

 

Now, if this was a Hollywood movie then suddenly they would be so filled with joy and be singing and dancing.  That's not how it happened, is it?  They were afraid.  They were confused.  It took multiple times of the Lord appearing on that day to really have people really understand anything, and Thomas didn't understand for eight days. 

 

So God reveals things to us but we don't get it.  God's grace is present, working in us now, but we don't completely see it.  We are like these women.  He's risen; He's not here.  But we're confused.  Maybe afraid, maybe despondent, whatever human emotion or failing you want to name.  And yet God is working in us.  God is here.  God is present.  God lives within us.  But we don't apprehend it.  It's really a deep mystery why we don't.  But even in the midst of that, eventually we have become aware of what God has revealed.

 

This is one of the many stories in the Gospel that shows our life in microcosm.  It's not just a story of people going to a tomb and the tomb being empty.  This is a story of our soul's journey in life, through difficulty, through things that make us afraid, make us confused- trying to do the right thing, not knowing exactly how to get it done.  And then the tomb is opened.  We still don't quite understand, but we will.  We will understand.  This is our life.  This is why these stories have been preserved, because they describe us.  They describe the human soul.  They describe the human need for God and how we can fulfill that need. 

 

All of us are on the journey to the tomb – not knowing exactly how we're going to get the stone rolled away or how we're going to deal with the guards.

 

If you want to make the guards a metaphor, they can be our passions or the world or anything else.  The stone can be our hardheartedness, the deadness inside us, our own weaknesses and passions that make it so difficult for us to do well.  All we know is that we look through a glass darkly[6].

 

We will see face-to-face, just like these Myrrhbearers did.  All we need to do is just keep going, keep walking to the tomb and believing that God will roll away the stone.  He will; He's guaranteed it.  I think you feel it in your heart.  But if you're like me and I know you are, sometimes you don't feel it in your head.  That's when you've just got to keep walking, one foot in front of the other, praying, fasting, struggling, doing what's right, trying to find out what's right, looking for those moments when you really must stand up and be a Christian, when there's a cross to be paid for it.  And then God will help you.  And you will get to the tomb and it will be opened.  That's the Christian life.  May God help us to live it.  Amen.

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2010    

 

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[1] It is really important to read a translation that understands verb tenses and other aspects of Greek grammar. All the paraphrasements are useless for this, and they are tainted by a Protestant mindset in most cases. A good article about this is at: http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2010/10/holy-scripture-in-orthodox-church.html. Most English translations get this verb tense wrong. Even the generally at least reasonably accurate King James version has “Joseph boldly…”, when the actual verb tense is “became bold”. 

[2] Matthew 4:18-22 KJV  “And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.  (19)  And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.  (20)  And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.  (21)  And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.  (22)  And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.”

[3] We were building our temple in McKinney at the time, and had many financial setbacks and difficulties with the city.

[4] I have had the unpleasant experience many times of seeing those indoctrinated with the modern reformers heresies considering this to be “works”. We truly use the same words, but speak a different language. In what important endeavor, can we make progress without effort? (None).

[5] The Gospels accounts indicate that there were multiple visits by different groups of people to the tomb. Each describes slightly different details.

 

For instance, in Mathew, the visit by Mary Magdalene and the Theotokos is described as follows, and shows that they saw the stone rolled away, and the guards “as dead men”:

 

“In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.  (2)  And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.  (3)  His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:  (4)  And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.” (Mat 28:1-4 KJV)

 

St Mark’s gospel does not mention any guards:

 

“And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.  (2)  And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.  (3)  And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?  (4)  And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.  (5)  And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.” (Mar 16:1-5)

 

St Luke’s gospels describes yet another visitation, where the stone is clearly already rolled away (and appears to include Joseph and Nikodemus in the party):

 

“And all his acquaintance, and the women that followed him from Galilee, stood afar off, beholding these things.  (50)  And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counselor; and he was a good man, and a just:  (51)  (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God.  (52)  This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus.  (53)  And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid.  (54)  And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.  (55)  And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid.  (56)  And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.  (24:1)  Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.  (2)  And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.  (3)  And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.”

(Luke 23:49-24:4)

[6] 1Corinthians13:12 KJV For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

 

 

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“Having become bold” – What made Joseph, Nicodemus and the Myrhhbearers bold?

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Joseph and Nikodemus taking Jesus down from the cross LISTEN NOW

Synopsis: The Scriptures tell us that Joseph "became bold" and asked for the body of Jesus from Pilate. He did a dangerous thing, which would likely cost him his life, as did the Holy Myrhhbearers when they went to the tomb on the day of the resurrection, to anoint a dead man. Why did they become bold? This is very important! They did not quite " get things right", since Jesus was not dead, so it is not so important that we get everything right and understand everything, but we must &become bold", because of love, and God will cause everything to work to the good. Also, at the beginning, an instruction about praying for people during the most sacred part of the Divine Liturgy, which is an obligation for all Orthodox Christians, and not only the clergy.

More homilies on theSunday of the Myrhhbearing Women are HERE

 

 

Holy Myrhbearers at the tomb with the angel

Mark 15:43-16:8 43 Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. 44 And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead. 45 And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. 46 And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre. 47 And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where he was laid. 1 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. 2 And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. 3 And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? 4 And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. 5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. 6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. 7 But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you. 8 And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid.


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The core teaching on the Sunday of Thomas: always stay close to Christ no matter what the understanding says, because of love.

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Appearances after the Resurrection as depicted in the Basilica di San Marco in Venice, Italy. The scroll that St. Thomas holds reads: "My Lord and my God." To the left, St. Mary Magdalene and another of the Myrrhbearing women fall down in worship of the Resurrected Christ. ? at Piazza San http://www.facebook.com/pages/Holy-Cross-Orthodox-Monastery/79944443582rco, Venice. source:

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Synopsis: The story of the "unbelieving disbelief" of Thomas, always read on the Sunday after Pascha, and also several other times during the year has one core message that applies to every human being. We look at this, and the only reason Thomas stayed with the Apostles through the eighth day, when He saw Christ – love. Without love, and the actions of Thomas replicated in *our* lives the resurrection will be of no good effect for us. the Christology and theology in this selection is deep and important, but the example which we must learn is of even higher importance.

More homilies (audio, text,video) on THOMAS SUNDAY are HERE

John 20:19-31 19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 20 And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the LORD. 21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: 23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. 24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the LORD. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. 26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God. 29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. 30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.


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2nd Sunday of Pascha; Thomas Sunday. Realism About The Resurrection. Text and Audio.

Saturday, April 21st, 2012


2nd Sunday of Pascha; Thomas Sunday

Realism About The Resurrection

John 20:19-31

 

2010

 

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

 

Christ is risen!  Truly He is risen!  Christos voskrese!  Voistinu Voskrese!

 

Today, brothers and sisters, we have the second half of the story of the Apostle Thomas.  When I think of the Apostle Thomas, I like his story, I think, among all the Resurrection stories, the best of all because I really think his story fits us to a T.  Or, it should fit us!  It fits those who endure to the end.  It fits those who find their way, who bear fruit.  It doesn't fit anybody else.  Let’s put is this way: if we are to bear fruit, we must be like Thomas.  If we are to be fruitful in the Christian life, our life is going to resemble his. 

 

And why do I say this?  I think Saint Thomas is sort of like every man.  A complex person, with belief, but also with unbelief, with certainty but also with anxiety.  This is what Thomas experienced.  He couldn't believe that the Lord was risen, he didn't see Him the first day that He was risen.  He didn't see Him until the eighth day.  And in that intervening time he just couldn't believe. 

 

Now, someone might judge him for that, saying, why wouldn't he believe his friends?  Many witnesses had told him that the Lord was risen.  Well, there's a lot of things that we don't do right.  There are a lot of things that we get wrong, a lot of misunderstandings that we have,  a lot of stuff that mixes up good and bad in us, so that it's hard to know why we do what we do or why we don't do what we should.  Thomas is just like us.  And he couldn't believe. 

 

But what did he do?  He didn't leave.  He stayed with the apostles.  Imagine how his heart was aching when he wanted to believe.  He just couldn't.  You see, partially, belief is a gift of God.  It's not just to sit in a corner and believe.  God grants us to be able to believe.  He doesn't force us to believe, but He helps us. 

 

You know all those confusing thoughts that go on in your head?  If they just keep going around and around and around, you get so turned around you don't know which end is up.  That's how Thomas was.  And we need divine intervention for things like that. 

 

There's a lot of things in the world that are very curious, very strange, very terrible.  We don't understand why they happen.  So we're like Thomas.  But we do understand that God loves and God is perfect and that somehow His plan will always be realized.  We just have no idea how.  No idea.  But like Thomas, if we continue to struggle, continue to be with God, eventually it will become clear to us. 

 

So, like so many stories, the story of belief of St. Thomas after his unbelief, is life in microcosmLearn to read the Scriptures in this way.  Because constantly it is life in microcosm.  So many of the miracles, the parables, this event, are showing what life is like. 

 

Now, for Thomas it took eight days.  For us, it takes a good part of a lifetime or perhaps a lifetime for some of our problems to be solved, for some of our confusion to become more clear to us.  But we must be like him.  We must be with the apostles.  We have to pray.  We have to fast.  We have to do things when they don't really give us much pleasure or they don't touch us much.  But we know they are right things to do. 

 

I'm not talking about doing things because of some legalistic idea that we've got to do this and we've got to do that.  Christianity is not legalism.  People make it legalism because it is actually easier that way.  Christianity is to give your entire heart to God.  There's nothing legalistic about that at all.  It's just giving all of yourself.  But it's really hard.  Because there's things that pull you back.  Just like Thomas.  So you keep going, keep making mistakes.  Sometimes you believe firmly.  Other times maybe you have doubts.  Sometimes you're happy.  Sometimes you're sad.  Sometimes you're confused.  Sometimes you seem to understand.  That's what life is like. 

 

You know, the Resurrection has to be looked at realistically, from two perspectives.  Number one, the Resurrection is happening now within us.  I talk about that all the time because I don't think we live like that, but the Resurrection is truly transcendent and should affect everything you do, everything you say, everything you are, should be affected by the Resurrection. 

 

But also we're like Thomas.  And there are parts of us that are not quite affected by the Resurrection yet.  There's still darkness in us.  There's still confusion.  There's still anger and passion and all kinds of stuff.  The Resurrection is supposed to fix all that, and it will.  It doesn't happen to the apostle.  It doesn't even happen on the day of Pentecost.  It happens through our lifetime of struggle. 

 

So that's what I mean by being realistic about the Resurrection.  We can't just say it's Pascha, Christ is risen, happy, happy, happy.  Because there's still things in us that should make us not very happy.  What should make us happy is that they can be solved.  They can be changed. 

 

Thomas wasn't real happy, for eight days he wasn't happy.  Imagine how broken his heart was!  He had said he would go die with Him, but he had run away just like everybody else.  And now he didn't even know if He was alive or dead.  I'm sure there was a piece in him that believed.  But there was also all that other stuff in him, probably guilt to a large degree, confusion, that wouldn't let him completely believe.  It wouldn't let him have the joy of the belief.  And it took the Lord, seeing Him, and converting him for Thomas to be able to have this joy. 

 

We're just like him.  If not in eight days, in our lifetime.  This is the blueprint for how to save your soul.  It doesn't matter if you have sins, doubts, unbelief.  None of that matters if you're like Thomas, if you struggle.  Because, no matter how much you have doubts inside, you know what's true.  Sometimes that truth can't quite get out because of your weaknesses.  But it's there and you know it.  And God is going to help you get that truth out. 

 

When I talk of truth, the truth is not a concept or a fact.  Truth is Jesus Christ.  Truth is righteousness.  So you want to be righteous, and yet there are things about you that aren't. 

 

We're celebrating the Resurrection, but not all of us is resurrected.  I don't think we should pretend otherwise.  It's just true that we're not completely resurrected yet.  We should be, and God will help us to be.  And the path is the path of Thomas, of fidelity, of struggle.  Like the man who said, "I believe; help my unbelief."  I think this Thomas is just another application of that idea.  He believed, but he couldn't believe completely.  He just couldn't quite believe completely.  And that's because he had to struggle and God would grant him the ability to believe.  But He only grants this ability to those who struggle and those who try.  Those who are lackadaisical, they are not going to be able to find their way. 

 

Brothers and sisters, I've told you many times, I want you very much to feel that there's darkness in you.  Not because I want you to be miserable.  It's not about being miserable.  It's about being realistic.  It's about knowing what you are and what you will be and having a great desire to be that person that you will be.  Wanting that above everything else.

 

As a pastor, I shudder when I encounter people that don't seem to have a concept of who they are.  They don't seem to know that they've got black in them and that they've got passions.  And when they do talk about some passion, it's, well, you know, “I'm only human”.  Well, I'll tell you what.  “Only human”, from a Christian perspective, means to be like Jesus Christ because He is the model for what a human being should be.  So actually when we say that, we really shouldn't say, we're “only human”.  We should say, we're not really human yet.  But we will be, if we are like Thomas and if we just endure.  Maybe it will take a week.  Maybe it will take a month.  Maybe it will take fifteen years.

 

I've been now a priest for fifteen years, and stuff is still happening, and I'm still waiting.  I believe it's going to happen.  I don't know when.  I don't know how.  But I know that if I stay close to the church, struggle, pray, fast, fall down and get up, then God will enlighten me; and those that I love, my flock, my family, God will enlighten them too.  Not according to my timing.  My timing is "right now."  It's not God's timing. 

 

Thomas wanted to know right now that the Lord was risen.  That wasn't God's timing for him.  He had to endure what must have seemed like an eternity, of eight days of waiting.  But eventually God revealed Himself to him, and He will reveal Himself to you, but only if you're like Thomas. 

 

Since we are like Thomas in our failings, we must be like Thomas in his endurance, or else we will not be saved. 

 

So God help you to endure:  To pray when you don't feel like praying, to repent when you don't feel like repenting, to forgive somebody when you don't really want to forgive him and when he doesn't want to give you any advantage whatsoever.  God will help you.  And God will enlighten you.  And you will know how to do it.  As Thomas was able to say, "My Lord and my God," so will you be able to say that.  I don't mean say it with your lips.  I mean have it, the feeling of it, everywhere in your whole soul and the certainty that knowing that He is your Lord and your God and you are His child. 

 

This is what our aim is in life.  May God help us to get there, like Thomas.  May all of us have an eighth day and we see the Lord as He is and we're not ashamed.  Amen.

 

 

Priest Seraphim Holland 2010    

Transcribed by the hand of Helen. May God save her and her loved ones.

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This homily is at:

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http://www.orthodox.net/sermons/pascha-sunday-02_2010-04-11+saint-thomas-sunday+realism-about-the-resurrection.rtf

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