Orthodoxie & de weg tot het zoon-schap [1]

Horeb, is zoals u waarschijnlijk weet
een andere naam voor de berg Sinaï,
de berg waar God de profeet Mozes en
het volk van Israël heen leidde en
hen Zijn Thora [Zijn instructies] gaf.
Dit was de plaats van de oorspronkelijke Theophanie,
de eerste keer dat het gehele volk Israël [en niet slechts één individu],
de heerlijkheid des HEREN in  donder en bliksemflitsen op de berg
kon aanschouwen.

Maar het volk van Israël kon daar niet eeuwig blijven;
er wachtte hen betere dingen in het beloofde land,
het “land van melk en honing“.
Horeb betekent in het Hebreeuws zoiets als
een droge of een desolate plek“, die voortvloeit uit
de wortel  חרב HRB, wat “droog” is.
Het is een onbewoonbare omgeving en zeker geen plaats
voor een heel volk om er te wonen.
Dus gebood God hen om Horeb te verlaten en
een begin te maken met de tocht die hen naar het land zou voeren dat
Hij hun voorvader Abraham gegeven had.

In het oude testament is de profeet Mozes
een zeer opvallende figuur. Er leefden Grote mannen vóór hem en ook ná hem volgden er velen.
Maar “zoals Mozes, die de Heer gekend heeft van aangezicht tot aangezicht,
is er in Israël geen profeet meer opgestaan
“. Deut.34: 10
Dat bleef gelden tot zijn eigen profetie werd vervuld:
Een Profeet uit uw broeders, zoals ik ben,
zal de Heer u verwekken; naar Hem zult u luisteren
” [Deut.18: 15].
Dat gebeurde meer dan duizend jaar later, toen
de Heer Jezus werd gezonden,
van Wie de Vader zei:
Deze is Mijn Zoon, de geliefde, in
Wie Ik Mijn welbehagen heb;
luister naar Hem!

Matth.17:  5

Wat was eigenlijk het geheim achter het leven van Mozes?
Was het zijn grootheid Prins van Egypte te worden?
Was het zijn kennis van het Egyptische religieuze leven en haar cultuur?
In het geheel niet, zijn leven was als geen ander in het Eerste Verbond [ het Oude Testament een duidelijke typering van de weg tot het zoon-schap.
Hij verwijst in eerste instantie naar de Zoon, Die het ware Israël zou verlossen van
de “vleespotten van Egypte“.
Maar hij verwijst ook naar de zonen Gods, die
“als Zijn gehele schepping van de dienstbaarheid aan de vergankelijkheid
bevrijden zal worden hetgeen toegang verschaft aan de vrijheid en
heerlijkheid van de kinderen van God“.
Rom.8: 21

Zo’n Mozes heeft de wereld nodig.
Aan politici, wetenschappers of religieuze leiders is er totaal geen gebrek.
Zij zullen de gigantische problemen niet kunnen oplossen.
Het antwoord is Jezus, de Christus én door Hem de zonen Gods.
Wij weten, dat de hele schepping in al haar leden verzucht en in barensnood is“.
Rom.8: 22
Reikhalzend verlangt de schepping:
de schepping wacht op het openbaar worden van de zonen van God“.
Rom.8: 19
Dat klonk als een klok toen Paulus dit opschreef en
dat is zeker ook nu in onze tijd een alom-klinkende waarheid.
Jezus is de Zoon van God, en nog wel “de eniggeboren Zoon
John.3: 16
want in Hem woont geheel de volheid der Godheid lichamelijk” [Col.2: 9].
Het Woord is vlees geworden en het heeft onder ons gewoond en
wij hebben Zijn heerlijkheid aanschouwd, een heerlijkheid als van
de eniggeboren van de Vader, vol van genade en waarheid
“.
Joh.1: 14

Maar Hij zou ook “de eerstgeborene zijn van veel andere zonen“, die
God “bestemd heeft tot gelijkvormigheid aan Zijn Zoon“.
Rom.8: 29b
Jezus was “het begin, de eerstgeborene uit de doden”, “de eerstgeborene van de ganse schepping” [Col.1: 15,18], onder
Wie uiteindelijk “alles wat in de hemelen en op de aarde is onder één hoofd wordt samengevat“.
Eph.1: 10

Jezus’ leven was dus niet een éénmalige gebeurtenis van een eenling.
Nee, Zijn geboorte was het begin van de “Opstanding uit de doden” [Col.1: 18].
“Christus als eersteling, vervolgens die van Christus bij Zijn Wederkomst”
1Cor.15: 23, Jac.1: 18 en
uiteindelijk “de eerstgeborene van de ganse schepping” [Col.1: 15].
Zijn leven was een teken van de weg tot het zoon-schap,
een teken dat Hij de wegwijzer was en is tot de weg die
ook anderen zouden gaan [Isaiah.7: 14 en Luc.2: 34].
Natuurlijk was Zijn Hemels zoenoffer als
Lam Gods voor de zonde van de wereld éénmalig.
Maar op Zijn leven rust geen auteursrecht.
Het dient te worden nagevolgd onder
begeleiding en discipline van de heilige Geest.
Hij is de Zoon van God.
Hij komt met Zijn loon” [Openb.22: 12], met de zonen Gods.
Hij is het Hoofd en zij maken deel uit van Zijn Lichaam [de Kerk].
Net als Jezus de Christus [de Gezalfde] worden ook de zonen op
dezelfde wijze door Gods Geest geleid [Rom.8: 14],
hetgeen zal leiden tot een totale verlossing van de gehele schepping [Rom.8: 19-22].

Mozes’ leven is dus een voorafschaduwing van
de weg tot dit zoon-schap.
Als eerste ging Jezus die weg.
En wie met Jezus Christus is bekleed,
zal eveneens zelf die weg dienen te gaan.
Daarom worden hier enkele gebeurtenissen en ontwikkelingen uit het leven van Mozes
vergeleken met die uit het leven van Jezus.
Hierdoor zullen wij een beter inzicht krijgen, hoe
God in óns leven van Zich doet spreken, wanneer Hij en hoe Hij óns vrij-koopt
uit de mensen als eerstelingen voor God en het Lam” en wij de weg tot zoon-schap mogen gaan
opgeroepen door een nieuw gezang voor Gods troon door de vier dieren, de oudsten en de losgekochte aardse mensen
in wiens mond geen leugen is te vinden en die onberispelijk zijn“.
Openb.14: 3-5

Voor degenen die zich het pad van het spirituele leven in Christus Kerk begeven
is het niet ongebruikelijk  om een mystieke ontmoeting met God  te ervaren,
een eigen unieke Openbaring als die van de berg Sinaï, een soort Theophanie,
een moment waarbij in het diepste punt van ons wezen de aanwezigheid van God wordt ervaren, de genade van de Heilige Geest.
Dit gebeurt aan het begin van de pelgrimstocht, waarop al snel de “uittocht” uit “Egypte” volgt, dat wil zeggen de tocht door de woestijn anders gezegd de confrontatie met de wereld begint.

Hoogleraar gezondhiedspsychologie Ernst Bohlmeijer [Twente] zegt hierover:
Het verwerven van ‘eudaimonia’ is een van de grootste uitdagingen voor de mens.
Eudaimonia was het antwoord van de Griekse filosoof Aristoteles op de zoektocht naar een ethische leidraad voor een gelukkig leven.
Het betekent letterlijk een goede [εύ, van πνεύμα ] geest [δαίμων, daimon] hebben of
tot ontwikkeling brengen.
In de tegenwoordige tijd zeggen we daarover: ‘Het beste in onszelf naar boven halen‘.
Aristoteles dacht daarbij vooral aan deugden zoals oordeelsvermogen, gematigdheid, eerlijkheid en liefde. Deze zelfontplooiing zou niet ten koste van andere mensen mogen gaan.
De positieve psychologie noemt eudaimonia ‘bloei’.
Bloei is de kunst om een vreugdevol, betrokken en betekenisvol leven te leiden.
We weten allemaal dat het verwerven van ‘eudaimonia’ – hetgeen de Russische
heilige Seraphim van Sarov, het verwerven van de Heilige Geest noemt – niet gemakkelijk is; het verlangt deemoed en doorzettingsvermogen.
Verwaarlozing en geweld in onze jeugd kunnen ons direct op een achterstand zetten.
We leven in een woestijn, een maatschappij met veel competitie en met steeds hogere eisen aan productiviteit. Ten opzichte van vorige generaties is er veel meer vrijheid, worden we gedwongen keuzes te maken, hetgeen beangstigend kan werken.
Een groot deel van onze hersenen stamt uit de préhistorie, inclusief alle tendensen tot bijvoorbeeld vlucht- en vecht-gedrag, tribalisme [voortdurende strijd of collectieve weerstand tegen mensen die geen deel uitmaken van de eigen gemeenschap (groep)] en een voorkeur voor negativiteit.
Er is veel lijden in de wereld. Dat komt tot ons door de ontwikkeling van de communicatiemiddelen [televisie, computer en mobiele telefoon].
Dit lijden kan ook onze naaste en onszelf opeens treffen. En hoe we het ook proberen te wenden of keren, we
zijn en blijven sterfelijke wezens en vergankelijkheid is
een basiskenmerk van ons leven.
We krijgen de opdracht – mee af te wijken van die wereld [dit tranendal]  en een leven lang in de wildernis op zoek te gaan naar het aan ons allen Beloofde Land en als Christen de volmaakte eenheid met Christus te vinden.
Een leven wat met Christus  in God is verborgen“.
Col. 3: 3

Het is een tijd van leven waarin de voortgang in de richting van het doel misschien een verbeelding [utopie] lijkt, waarbij we net als het volk Israël in de woestijn van de zonde en ongehoorzaamheid dwalen als een generatie die
geen enkele vooruitgang in de richting van het heil maakt.
Toch is dit een test-periode,  de dagen van de wandelroute die beschreven staat:
Heden, als gij Zijn stem verneemt, verhardt dan niet uw harten, *
zoals in de verbittering, ten dage van de beproeving in de woestijn“.
Psalm 94 [95]: 8

Velen zijn niet bereid om te vertrekken Horeb.
Zij zijn niet bereid de ontberingen in de woestijn te doorstaan, door
in betoond karakter en een vast Geloof te volharden [Rom.5: 3-5; Jacobus 1: 2-4].
Ze zijn niet bereid met de echte problemen die hen belagen om te gaan,
om een reëel antwoord te bewerkstelligen op de vragen die aan hun geweten knagen en
als gevolg daarvan, verschuilen ze zich achter een muur
van al te extravagante vroomheid, fanatisme, of apathie.

Zowel de geboorte van Mozes in het Oude Testament als
die van Jezus welke wij met Kerst vieren,
gingen gepaard met dramatische gebeurtenissen.
In beide gevallen trachtte een machthebber
zijn troon te redden door een massamoord. De Farao gaf bevel om alle pasgeboren Hebreeuwse jongens te verdrinken in de Nijl [Ex.1: 22].
Herodes liet in Bethlehem
alle jongetjes onder de twee jaar vermoorden.
Iets dergelijks staat ook in Openbaringen vermeld.
Daar staat “de grote draak” voor “de barende vrouw“, om “haar kind” [een “mannelijk wezen“, dat
alle heidenen zal hoeden met een ijzeren staf]
te verslinden zodra zij haar kind gebaard had“.
Openb.12: 4-5

Deze gebeurtenissen leren ons éen en diezelfde les:
De satan, de tegenstrever bestrijdt met alle macht
de geboorte van de Zoon.
Steeds weer zien we zijn woede en haat,
maar iedere keer komt God tussenbeide om
de Zijnen in veiligheid te brengen.

Wie is nu dat “mannelijke wezen“, de “zoon“?
We lezen in het Oude Testament, dat Israël zo genoemd wordt.
Zo zegt de Heer: Israël is Mijn eerstgeboren zoon;
laat hem gaan, opdat hij Mij zal kunnen dienen
“.
Exodus 4: 22-23
Er staat ook, dat dit een [vooraf-] “schaduw is van de toekomstige goederen” [Hebr.10: 1].
Tevens dat alles wat het volk Israël overkomen is
gebeurd is als een voorbeeld [voor ons] en het functioneert als zodanig als een
vooraf gegeven, opgeschreven waarschuwing voor ons, over wie het einde der eeuwen gekomen is, over hen die door de verderfengel omkwamen“.
1Cor.10: 11 en
Hetgeen was van den beginne, hetgeen wij gehoord hebben, hetgeen wij gezien hebben met onze [eigen] ogen, hetgeen wij aanschouwd hebben en onze handen getast hebben van het Woord des levens.
Het leven toch is geopenbaard en wij hebben gezien en getuigen en verkondigen u het eeuwige leven, dat bij de Vader was en aan ons geopenbaard is
1John1: 1-2

De verlossing van Israël uit Egypte van toen symboliseert de verlossing tot zoon-schap nu.
Israël was dus een teken en Mozes een voorloper van het “mannelijk wezen”, van
Jezus Christus, het Hoofd [van de Kerk] en
van de Christus Zijn [Volk, het] voltallige lichaam van zonen.
Matth.1: 16-17

Jezus Christus, onze Heer en Verlosser
is geboren in het vlees,
het Hoofd [van Zijn Kerk] werd als eerste geboren.
De volledige [Open]baring van het hele zonen-lichaam moet nog komen [Op.12: 5].

En vrouwelijke gelovigen dan?
Zijn er in dit “mannelijke wezen” ook dames?
Eigenlijk zouden we ook kunnen vragen of er ook mannen zijn die zich ‘bruid’ kunnen noemen, of
zoals in Babylon, de ontuchtige, de Hoer.
Op deze vragen is maar één antwoord mogelijk:
>  natuurlijk wel!
Het gaat er in de Bijbel niet om, of iemand van
het mannelijke of het vrouwelijke geslacht is, zoals de feministen ons doen voorkomen,
maar of iemand mannelijk [= geestelijk] is of vrouwelijk [= een innerlijke gevoel, een mensenziel bezit].
De mens heeft namelijk zowel een mannelijke als een vrouwelijke kant in zich.
Iedereen heeft mannelijke èn vrouwelijke hormonen.

In een man overheersen de mannelijke, in een vrouw de vrouwelijke hormonen.
Met de innerlijke mens is het net zo:
innerlijk mannelijk [= geestelijk] èn vrouwelijk [= bezit een mensenziel].
In de één overheerst het “mannelijke”, in de ander het “zielse”.
God is echter één, is volmaakt in balans [Jac.2: 19].
En toen Hij Adam schiep naar Zijn beeld en gelijkenis,
was deze mannelijk-vrouwelijk [Gen.1: 27b letterlijk].
Ook Adam kende de harmonische eenheid en
het volmaakte evenwicht tussen “mannelijk” en “vrouwelijk“.
Hij was ook één.

Ook Jezus kende dit innerlijke evenwicht.
Hij handelde nooit in een ziel-bewogen opwelling, op menselijke initiatief of uit medelijden. Hij, de Zoon van God,
kan niets doen van Zichzelf, of Hij moet het de Vader zien doen;
want wat deze doet, dat doet ook de Zoon evenzo
“.
John.5: 19
Hij liet Zich leiden door Gods Geest. Hij was innerlijk één.
Vandaar dat “de onreine geesten zich voor Hem neer wierpen,
telkens als zij Hem zagen, en zij schreeuwden, zeggende:
Gij zijt de Zoon van God
“.
Marc.3: 11

De meeste gelovigen kennen deze innerlijke harmonie niet.
Ze zijn innerlijk verdeeld. In hen overheerst het zielse,
welke bevrediging zoekt voor het vlees [Col.2: 23].
Zij proberen de boventoon te voeren door anderen [naar beneden] te [onder]drukken.
De ziel wil namelijk bezitten – hebben > zij begeert.
Ze zoekt meer de zegeningen dan dat zij door hun gedrag de Gever zegent.
Maar de volgelingen van het Lam leren deze innerlijke harmonie wel kennen.
Hun eigen ziel is tot rust en stilte gebracht;
Ik houd mij niet op met grote dingen; *
noch met wat te wonderbaar voor mij is
“.
Psalm 130 [131]: 2
Het zijn zonen, die maagdelijk zijn [Openb.14: 4].
Ze zijn mannelijk-vrouwelijk. Geest en ziel zijn volkomen in balans.
Daarom doen ze “Goud van zich uitvloeien“;
Wat betekenen de twee olijftakken, die
door twee gouden buizen het goud van zich doen uitvloeien?
“.
Zacharia 4: 12
Naar hen dient geluisterd te worden.
Niet naar mensen, in wie het zielse overheerst.
Die moeten, als innerlijk vrouwelijken,
‘zwijgen’ in de gemeente,
want het is haar niet vergund te spreken,
maar zij moeten ondergeschikt blijven,
zoals ook de wet zegt
“.
1Cor.14: 34

“‘Nergens wordt een profeet zo miskend als in zijn eigen stad [land]’, ‘onder zijn verwanten en geloofsgenoten'”. [Marc. 6: 4]
Eenieder, die zijn leven zal willen behouden, die zal het verliezen;
maar eenieder, die zijn leven verliezen zal om Mijnentwil en omwille van het Evangelie,
die zal het behouden.
Want wat baat het een mens de gehele wereld te winnen en aan zijn ziel schade te lijden?
Want wat zou een mens kunnen geven in ruil voor zijn leven?
Want wie zich voor Mij en voor mijn woorden schaamt in dit overspelig en zondig geslacht,
de Zoon des mensen zal Zich ook voor hem schamen, wanneer Hij met de heilige engelen
komt in de heerlijkheid van Zijn Vader
“.
Marc.8: 35-38
Wie oren heeft om te horen, die hore“.
Marc.  4: 9

Het doel van dit schrijven is om bijstand te bieden aan
degenen die de berg Horeb afdalen om de woestijn in te gaan en werkelijk de confrontatie met zichzelf durven aan te gaan door Christus te volgen en Goddelijke wegen te bewandelen.
Moeilijke vragen niet te omzeilen door enkel naar anderen te wijzen, werkelijk om te gaan met de moeilijke kwesties die we in de “woestijn” van het geestelijk leven tegenkomen.
De pijnlijke vragen die ons beangstigen,
problemen die we omzeilen teneinde niet
met eigen onvermogen geconfronteerd te worden.

We dienen dit te doen vanuit het primaire perspectief dat de Bijbel ons biedt, die prachtige complexe en vaak verontrustende verzameling van teksten die we de Heilige Schrift of de Blijde Boodschap noemen.
Daarbij kunnen we ons niet verschuilen achter een vals gevoel van veiligheid
en de Bijbel rooskleuriger laten schijnen dan zij is
zonder ons aandeel in de problemen te benoemen.
We dienen met onszelf de frontale confrontatie aan te gaan
met alle instrumenten die de moderne wetenschap ons biedt.

Wij dienen, net als de Israëlieten,
de Egyptenaren hun macht te ontnemen” en in elk opzicht Christus te dienen gebruik makend van de moderne wetenschap.
Met de moderne wetenschap welke door de kerkvaders  Hermeneutiek [Grieks: ἑρμήνευειν; ‘uitleggen’, ‘vertalen’] genoemd werd en wij zullen daardoor
Christus de Logos Immanuel ontmoeten zoals Deze met het toekomstige Kerstfeest gevierd wordt.

Iedereen is welkom in aanwezigheid tot onze Heer.
Het vereist slechts een verlangen om God te kennen en
een gewillige geest om in Zijn aanwezigheid te vertoeven.
God laat iedereen vrij in z’n keuze en
heeft iedereen een kleine mate van geloof gegeven, dus
laten we het kleine beetje geloof wat we in Christus hebben uitbouwen en
tot de onze maken en laten wij ons daarmee voorbereiden op Zijn komst en
Hem de eer geven die Hem toekomt, in eenheid met de Vader, de Zoon en
de Heilige Geest.

Een goede Philippus-vasten toegewenst.

Orthodoxie, oorspronkelijke Christelijke levensbeschouwing

God is dood!‘,
word mij regelmatig op luide toon duidelijk gemaakt.
Hierbij wordt de Engelse realist Thomas Hobbes [1588-1679] geciteerd, die al eeuwen vòòr Friedrich Nieztsche deze befaamde uitspraak deed.
De meerderheid heeft dan niet in de gaten dat zij helemaal niet-zo-modern zijn en dat de meeste van hen niet stil staat bij wat zij in werkelijkheid zeggen.
Het is het zelfde als wanneer je verkondigt ‘ik besta niet’
want ìk ben nu eenmaal anders dan alle andere wezens.
De uitspraak roept weerstand en aandacht op en
dat is waar dit soort personen veelal op uit zijn.
Net zoals ‘ik zou best lid willen worden van de Kerk
maar dan moet die kerk wel eerst veranderen;
ik heb al zoveel verkeerde voorgangers meegemaakt’.
Net of extreem afwijkend gedrag van enkelingen zou kunnen bepalen
wat de overgrote werkzaamheid van de Kerk inhoudt.

Luisteren  naar uitspraken over
de dood van een God, Die in mijn ogen
toch echt springlevend is;
luisteren naar degenen die niet beseffen dat er anno nu mensen zijn,
jongeren en ouderen die met geheel hun hart in die zgn. ‘dode’ God geloven.
Met mijn Christenbroeders ben ik niet alleen een kind van een andere wereld,
maar ook van een geheel andere tijd.
Toch zien wij een nieuwe generatie opkomen die niet zozeer een hang hebben naar georganiseerde religie
– zij zijn immers wars van iedere vorm van gezag en organisatie –
als wel naar spiritualiteit, bezinning, meditatie en gebed.
Deze ontwikkeling mag als een ontmoeting in de woestijn zijn
hetgeen blijkt uit de populariteit van yoga, zingeving en semi-spiritualiteit en
de nieuwe trend van theologen als coaches van de ziel in het bedrijfsleven.
In deze onzekere tijd van meervoudige crisissen [economisch, sociaal, milieu en  politiek] is er als vanzelfsprekend behoefte aan Spiritualiteit ontstaan.
De nieuwe generatie kent de haat niet waarmee onze [groot]ouders
ooit de Kerk hebben verlaten. Zij zijn in het ergste geval weinig geïnformeerd, onverschillig,
maar veelal wel geïnteresseerd en tonen meer respect dan
degenen die op luide toon ’God is dood’ verkondigen.
Uiteraard is de Kerk niet altijd even trots op wat er in haar naam is gebeurd,
maar is het leven ook voor de Kerk een voortdurend proces van mensen [zondaars]
die met vallen en opstaan de gemeenschap van Heiligen volgen,
die op hun beurt weer de weg van Christus [=God] nastreven.
Het idee dat een Christen een heilig boontje is
dient maar eens uit de wereld te worden geholpen, het is nu eenmaal zo wie als mens leeft, kan onmogelijk leven zónder te zondigen.
Het begrip zonde is al datgene wat wij doen en laten, zonder God en het goddelijk welbevinden steeds voor ogen te houden en te behoeden;
de schoonheid van de schepping.
Wat er ook gebeuren zal, we voelen ons als Christenen gedragen door de wijde vleugels van Gods liefde [Psalm 90];
Hij is er immer nu en altijd.

Mahatma Gandhi [1869-1948] is een bekend leider van de toenmalige Indiase onafhankelijkheidsbeweging, die zichzelf een man van God noemde.
Het boek ‘De weg naar God’ [ISBN 9789069638829] toont zijn blijvende invloed als spiritueel leider van wie de ideeën  inzicht en troost bieden aan  zoekers van elke geloofsstroming.
Gandhi heeft boute uitspraken gedaan over Christenen: ‘ik ben er nog nooit eentje tegengekomen’,
of ook: ‘de bijbel is als dynamiet, maar jullie praten erover alsof het een stuk literatuur is’.
De mens, ook Christenen  hebben vaak het idee de gehele wereld in hun zak te hebben.
De mens is trots op kennis en prestaties, daarbij wordt God en overeenkomstig Zijn opdracht leven vaak uit het oog verloren, terwijl
Hij het juist is, die wereld op de achtergrond leidt.
Neem nu het weer, als er één gebied is wat de mens niet kan controleren dan is dat het weer. God schiep licht en het ontbreken van licht, de duisternis, Hij schiep aarde en water, bergen en dalen, maar ook het weer.
Om te voorkomen dat we Hem zouden vergeten, heeft Hij alles om ons heen geschapen als een mechanisme
om aan Hem herinnerd te worden.
Zo heb je weer en niet-weer, hetgeen we onweer noemen. Onweer doet ons realiseren dat we ons leven nu eens niet onder controle hebben; we bestaan alleen omdat God dit wil.
Ook toen de Thora [de wet des levens] op de berg Sinaï werd geopenbaard
ging dit gepaard met onweer.
Met andere woorden komen we in een crisis [of vele crisissen tegelijk] dan overvalt ons terecht een bezinning op onze levenshouding [waar ben ik in Godsnaam mee bezig].
Oók wanneer, via die Thora [de instructie], de weg omhoog  [de berg Sinaï] wordt geopenbaard dan gaat dit gepaard met onweer [met crisis].
Je weet niet wat je overkomt, het plenst van de lucht en de bliksem daalt links en rechts naast je neer, je wordt overvallen door een gevoel van onmacht.
Na openbaring van Zijn instructies blijkt God afwezig.
Alleen door Gods afwezig zijn kunnen we tot leven komen, is Hij ons nabij.
Hij geeft ons vrijheid van keuze, door Zijn instructie na te leven kunnen we
geestelijk leven en vinden, komen we tot God. We leren dat heelal en alles wat om ons heen draait vanuit Zijn perspectief dient te worden gezien; onze werkelijkheid wordt een Goddelijke werkelijkheid.
Door onze wereld tot Zijn Wereld te maken openen wij de oorspronkelijke link met Hem;
erkennen we dat wij naar Zijn beeld en gelijkenis zijn geschapen.

Wanneer je ervoor kiest als Christen te leven,
zul je God [= Christus] ervaren als ‘de goede herder‘.
Christus werd al voor Zijn komst vergeleken met
een herder, die Zijn schapen goed verzorgt.
Als herder leidt Hij ons naar veilige weiden,
waar wij in vrede kunnen leven,
wetende dat we worden verzorgd.

Dit is hoe Christus ons in dit leven wil begeleiden:
in herderlijke liefde, zorg en wijsheid.
Wanneer je ervoor kiest in vrijheid te leven en
je onderwerpt aan Zijn autoriteit,
zal Hij je begeleiden op de weg van vreugde
Christus is niet een dominant heerser,
een despoot die erop uit is om jou te manipuleren.
Hij dwingt je niet – hij nodigt je uit.
Hij is rijk aan liefde;
Hij beschermt je en staat je bij,
als een goede herder [cf. Psalm 22].

1e Zondag na Pinksteren – Allerheiligen

Hymne tot de Heilige Geest          tn.6.
Koning van de Hemel,
Trooster, Geest der Waarheid,
Die Overal tegenwoordig zijt,
en Die alles vervuld,
Schatkamer van het Goede;
Schenker des Levens;
kom en verblijf in ons;
zuiver ons van alle smet,
en red onze zielen, o Algoede“.

Op de dag van Pinksteren, daalde de Heilige Geest neer en vestigde de Kerk in de wereld [qua ruimte en tijd],
hetgeen als het Lichaam van Christus wordt beschouwd.
Pinksteren is een tijdloze gebeurtenis en is daarom ‘niet‘ alleen aan die dag verbonden.
Met Pinksteren zo blijkt uit de woorden van Jezus Christus Zelf
heeft Hij ons vanaf dat moment opgenomen in Zijn Onbevlekt Lichaam,
naast de alom gezegende Moeder Gods, de Maagd Maria,
de negen rangorden der Engelen,
onze Voorouders, de Aartsvaders, de Profeten van het Eerste Verbond en de Heilige Apostelen.
In het verdere verloop van de geschiedenis worden onder “de hoede van Heilige Geest
Christus’ Apostelen en hun volgelingen aan dit Huis toegevoegd,
dat wil zeggen zij, die Getuigen, de Bisschoppen, de Heilige Martelaren,
de Heiligen, de Rechtvaardigen dat wil in het algemeen aanduiden
alle zichtbare en onzichtbare heiligen,
mannen en vrouwen die tot op de dag van vandaag geleefd hebben en
nog leven, tevens zullen er nog vele heiligen volgen tot aan het einde der tijden.

Deze realiteit wordt ons geopenbaard in de Gemeenschap met Christus
in de liturgische praktijk van de Heilige Kerk,
wanneer de priester tijdens elke Goddelijke Liturgie
stukjes van de Prosphor[en] toevoegt
aan het Heilig Lichaam en Bloed van de Heer
– het gedeelte wat wordt aangeduid engelen en heiligen,
– waarmee iedereen gezamenlijk met de gebeden van de gelovigen
wordt opgedragen aan de volheid van Christus .

Hiermee wordt aangeduid dat de gemeente [gemeenschap] van heiligen
wordt vergoddelijkt in het Lichaam van Christus,
hetgeen de Orthodoxe Kerk viert op de Zondag na Pinksteren,
de Zondag van Allerheiligen.

Historisch gezien werd met dit alles in de Kerk een begin gemaakt
door de Goddelijke Liturgie te vieren op de gebeenten van de Martelaren
maar Leo de Wijze heeft vastgesteld dat dit gezien dient te worden als het feest van Alle Heiligen, daar als [bloed-]getuigen niet alleen degenen zijn die worden beschouwd geselingen en  zwaar lijden te hebben ondergaan,
niet alleen degenen die in het vuur zijn gegooid of ander leed hebben ondergaan
– waarmee zij getuigenis afleggen van de gruwelijke martelingen die Christus heeft ondergaan en zij getuigenis afleggen van de onmetelijke goedheid van de  Heer,
maar dat elke aan God toegewijde ervaring van martelaarschap,
of er nu geen bloed gevloeid heeft maar geestelijk lijden aan verbonden is getuigenis aflegt van de grote daden van onze Heer en God, Jezus Christus.
Alle Heiligen worden zonder uitzondering [er wordt géén gradatie aangebracht]
gekenmerkt door de moed en de trouwe verbintenis aan Jezus Christus,
de overwinning door het Kruis en daarmee de overwinning van de zonde.

Vanaf de 4e eeuw vierde de Byzantijnse Kerk aldus in een gemeenschappelijke viering al de martelaren der aarde.
De Heilige Ephraïm componeerde voor
deze gelegenheid een hymne
waarbij in Edessa de 13e mei als feestdag werd aangewezen,
in Syrië werd het op de vrijdag na Pasen gevierd.
In een preek over de martelaren, spreekt de heilige Johannes Chrysostomos over de eerste zondag na Pinksteren;
dit gebruik is tot op de dag van vandaag bewaard in de Byzantijnse kerken bewaard gebleven, welke via een geleidelijke ontwikkeling van het feest van de ‘martelaren van de gehele aarde” is overgegaan in die van “Alle Heiligen”.
De keuze van dit laatste is belangrijk:
Zij, de Heiligen, waren toegetreden tot de orde van Heiligen in de triomf van Christus door de uitstorting van de Heilige Geest;
de poëtische vorm van keizer Leo de Wijze [886 – 911] volgend,
dat de Kerk op aarde een onderdompelende rivier is van de Heilige Geest, waarna de uitgeroepen [gedoopte] Heiligen als geurende bloemen worden vereerd.
Zoals gebruikelijk, heeft de Byzantijnse Kerk de weg gewezen aan de Westerse kerken, welke de feestdag heeft vastgesteld op de eerste November.
Zoals het in het westen gebruikelijk is werd deze echter opgevolgd door een kwalificatie:
de 2e November werd de gedenkdag van de gewone stervelingen [Allerzielen], verschil moet er tenslotte zijn in het westerse denkbeeld zelfs onder de volgelingen van Christus, alsof we niet allen tot het gilde der zondaars behoren. Er zal echter feest zijn in de Hemelen
over elke zondaar, die zich bekeert.

Het Evangelie van de zondag van Allerheiligen bevestigt deze waarheid:
De Heer zei:

Een ieder dan, die Mij belijden zal voor de mensen,
hem zal ook Ik belijden voor mijn Vader, Die in de Hemelen is;
maar al wie Mij verloochenen zal voor de mensen,
die zal ook Ik verloochenen voor Mijn Vader,
Die in de hemelen is.
Wie vader of moeder liefheeft boven Mij, is Mij niet waardig; en wie zoon of dochter liefheeft boven Mij, is Mij niet waardig;
en wie zijn kruis niet opneemt en achter Mij gaat, is Mij niet waardig.

Daarop antwoordde Petrus en zeide tot Hem:
Zie, wij hebben alles prijsgegeven en zijn U gevolgd; wat zal dan ons deel zijn?
Jezus zei tot hen:
“Voorwaar, Ik zeg u, gij, die Mij gevolgd zijt, zult in de wedergeboorte,
wanneer de Zoon des mensen op de troon zijner heerlijkheid zal zitten,
ook op twaalf tronen zitten om de twaalf stammen van Israël te richten.
En eenieder, die huis [gemeenschap] of broeders of zusters of vader of moeder
of kinderen of akkers heeft prijsgegeven om Mijn Naam,
zal vele malen meer terugontvangen en het eeuwige leven erven.
Maar vele eersten zullen de laatsten zijn, en vele
laatsten de eersten”.
Matth. 10: 32-33,37-38; 19: 27-30

Op deze Zondag manifesteren zich derhalve het werk en de vruchten van het Goddelijke
– welke door de Heilige Geest wordt geopenbaard,
maar stelt ons tevens in de gelegenheid een Lofzang [een Doxology] aan God op te dragen
voor Zijn grote gaven [Genade] die Hij ons doet toekomen.
Maar het gaat hier dan ook om onze dagelijkse spirituele reflectie en
de wijze waarop we hier vorm aan geven,
aangezien de aanwezigheid van de Heiligen die ons bijstaan
ons op de dag des Oordeels zonder meer zal ontbreken,
wanneer we niet zelf voor onze eigen redding zorg dragen.

Het is dus heel begrijpelijk waarom deze zondag van Allerheiligen
de cyclus van de Paastijd en opgang naar Pinksteren voltooit,
met als referentie het Heilig Pascha – de heilige Opstanding van onze Heer Jezus Christus,
welke het lichtbaken is die zaligheid bewerkstelligt
aan degenen die Hem volgen en Hem liefhebben.

Apolytikion       tn.4
Over de gehele wereld is Uw Kerk getooid
met het bloed van Uw Martelaren, als met byssos en purpur.
En door hen roept zij tot U, Christus God:
Zend Uw Barmhartigheid neer over Uw Volk,
schenk vrede aan Uw wereld,
en aan onze zielen de grote Genade
“.

Kondakion         tn.8
Als eerstelingenoffer der natuur,
offert de wereld U, de Heer en Schepper van het Heelal,
de God-dragende Martelaren.
Door hun gebeden bewaar in diepe vrede Uw Kerk, Uw woning bij de mensen,
en bescherm haar door de Moeder Gods, Barmhartige
“.

Laat ons zingen voor de Vrienden van God,
want eenieder kan tot hen naderen.
Door de gebeden van Uw vlekkeloze Moeder, Christus onze God,
en van al Uw Heiligen van alle eeuwen,
heb medelijden met ons en red ons,
want gij alleen zijt goed den
hebt de mensen lief.

Allerheiligen
Wonderbaar is God in Zijn Heiligen
Psalm 67: 35

Laat ons bezingen de bovenmenselijke strijd van onze Martelaren,
hoe Zij in de zwakheid van hun vlees het kwaad van de eigen kracht te schande maakten,
zonder rekening te houden met zware pijn en wonden
terwijl ze lichamelijk vuur, zwaard en allerlei verschillende dodelijke martelingen ondergingen, geduldig weerstand boden terwijl in hun vlees werd gesneden, hun gewrichten uit de kom werden gedraaid en hun beenderen werden verbrijzeld,
bleven zij standvastig in hun belijdenis van het geloof in Christus
en Zijn, volle, onaantastbare en onwankelbaar integriteit.
Als gevolg hiervan werd hen de onbetwistbare wijsheid van de Geest geschonken en
de kracht om wonderen te verrichten.
Laten we het geduld van deze heilige mannen en vrouwen proberen te evenaren,
hoe zij gewillig ​​lange perioden van vasten, waken en diverse andere fysieke ontberingen hebben doorstaan alsof ze niet in het lichaam waren, tot het einde toe tegen kwade hartstochten en allerlei zonden hebben gevochten, in de onoverwinnelijke innerlijke strijd tegen de overheden, tegen de machten, tegen de wereldbeheersers van de duisternis, tegen de boze geesten in de hemelse gewesten [Eph.6: 12].
Ze ontkenden hun uiterlijke eigenheid en maakte ze nutteloos,
maar hun innerlijke mens werd vernieuwd en vergoddelijkt
door Hem van wie zij tevens de gaven [Genade] van genezing en krachten ontvingen.

Wanneer we bij dit soort zaken stilstaan en inzien dat ze de menselijke natuur vèe overtreffen,
kijken we vol verwondering op naar God en verheerlijken Hem Die hen zulke Genade en kracht gaf. Want zelfs al waren hun bedoelingen goed en nobel, zonder Gods kracht
waren zij onmogelijk in staat buiten de grenzen van hun aard  te gaan en
de lichaamloze vijand te bestrijden terwijl nog in hun lichaam verbleven.

Dit is de reden waarom, wanneer de psalmist en profeet verklaarde:
Wonderbaar is God in Zijn Heiligen“, David ging nog verder
door te zeggen: “Hij geeft Macht en Sterkte aan Zijn volk” [Psalm 67: 35].
Overweeg zorgvuldig de kracht van deze profetische woorden.
Overwegende dat God, volgens de psalmist, geheel Zijn volk kracht en macht geeft
– want Hij toont geen partijdigheid [vgl. Hand.10: 34]
– Hij wordt verheerlijkt alleen in Zijn heiligen
– De zon laat zijn stralen over allen overvloedig neerdalen ongeacht het aanzien van de persoon,
ze zijn echter alleen zichtbaar voor mensen met geopende ogen.
Alleen zij die scherpzinnige en zuivere ogen bezitten profiteren van het pure licht van de zon,
niet diegenen wiens denkbeelden door ziekte worden gedimd,
waarbij mist of iets dergelijks hun ogen heeft aangetast.
Op dezelfde manier schenkt God Zijn hulp rijkelijk aan allen,
want Hij is de altijd overvloeiende,
verhelderende en leven-schenkende bron van Genade en Goedheid.
Maar niet iedereen profiteert van Zijn Genade en Kracht om
perfect de deugd te beoefenen en/of wonderen voort te brengen,
alleen degenen die een goede intentie hebben,
die hun liefde en geloof jegens God tonen door goede werken [cf. Jac.2: 20-26],
die zich volledig afkeren van alle ongerechtigheden,
vasthouden aan Gods geboden en
de ogen van hun verstand/begrip opheffen naar Christus,
de Zon der gerechtigheid [Maleachi 4: 2].
Hij heeft niet alleen onzichtbaar een helpende hand van boven uitgestoken naar degenen die strijden, maar
we horen Hem ook Die tot ons spreekt en
ons aanspoort in het Evangelie van vandaag.
Een ieder dan, die Mij zal belijden voor de mensen“,
zo zegt Hij,
die zal ook Ik belijden voor Mijn Vader,
Die in de Hemelen is
“.
Matth.10: 32
Houdt daarbij in ogenschouw dat we niet ijskoud en onbevreesd ons geloof in Christus kunnen verkondigen en
Hem zonder Zijn hulp, ondersteuning en kracht kunnen belijden.
Ook zullen wij ons in de komende eeuw namens onze Heer Jezus Christus dienen uit te spreken daarbij ons als Zijn verwanten bij de hemelse Vader aan te bevelen, wanneer Hij ons een reden geeft om dat te doen.
Om dit duidelijk te maken, zegt Hij niet:
Een ieder dan, die voor de mensen over Mij spreekt“,
maar “wie Mij in Mijn Naam bekend maakt” [Matth.10: 32], dat wil zeggen,
Hij, die Ik in staat stel, dus in Christus en met Zijn hulp,
om de Christelijke levensbeschouwing met vrijmoedigheid openbaar te maken;
het dient dus altijd en eeuwig te gebeuren vanuit Zijn Apostolische Kerk,
óók in onze tijd.

Psalms created on Truth – psalm 8: 4; “Wie is de mens, dat Gij hem gedenkt . . . . . “

In onze tijd worden mensen verpulverd, worden in een mum opgebruikt en de kijk op de mens is verward en wazig geworden.
Vanuit deze tragische situatie moet niet vergeten worden dat er al eeuwen een cultureel ontwerp bestaat.
De beschrijving hiervan is ons van Gods wege gegeven via de Blijde Boodschap.
De Bijbel  is in staat de mens een antwoord te geven op wie hij is, over zijn relatie met de wereld, de noodzaak tot gemeenschap met de medemens. Het beschrijft de individuele weg die hem leidt naar een directe relatie met God . . . . .

Daarop vindt de oorsprong van de cultuur van onze Kerkvaders haar oorsprong in de Griekse geest en hun resonantie op de Christelijke leer.
De mens werd in het kader van deze cultuur geïdentificeerd als een persoon, die
is geschapen, overeenkomstig het beeld van de Drie-ene God en daarnaast de mogelijkheid heeft gekregen om te communiceren met God en met onze medemens.
Het leven is als een woestijn, zonder werkelijke waarden.
Af en toe horen we de Stem van boven die onafgebroken roept.
We zijn verplicht de wil van God te doen, Zijn wetten na te leven.
We doen dit wel, maar met een half hart omdat onze geest vaak te druk is met andere zaken. Uiteindelijk bereiken we onze bestemming en
realiseren dat elk moment de potentie van een juweel in zich had.
Dan betreuren we onze dwaasheid.

“Die de echtvriend van haar jeugd verlaat en het verbond [= overeenkomst met ] van haar God vergeet”.
Spreuken 2: 17

De Statenvertaling zegt: de Leidsman van haar jeugd.
Het Hebreeuwse woord Pwla (aloef), dat hier dan vertaald is met “echtvriend” of “Leidsman” hangt samen met de eerste letter van het Hebreeuwse alfabet, de alef .
En de alef representeert ook de één, het getal 1. Het betekent dus, dat je de eenheid kwijt bent.
Het betekent ook, dat je Degene kwijt bent met wie je van je jeugd af aan verbonden bent.
En dat is toch wel heel bijzonder, want als je bij God bent – en het is goed om daar eens even over na te denken – als je bij de Heer bent en met Hem wandelt, dan ben je bij je oorspronkelijke Vriend.
Dan ben je bij de God bij wie je van huis uit hoort.

De kern van dit verhaal is dus: een mens hoort van huis uit bij God.
Als je tot geloof komt, kom je terug bij je oorsprong bij het begin.
Het begin van elk mens is uit God.
En dan kun je in je leven een heel eind gaan zwerven en een hele omweg maken,
maar als je dan tot bekering komt, kom je niet bij een vreemde, maar dan kom je bij de vanouds bekende God.
Dan kom je bij Degene, die jou al kent vanaf het begin. Al die andere goden, die je in je leven inbouwt horen niet bij je.

Jouw begin is uit God, en je bent wezenlijk verwant met Hem!
Je hoort helemaal bij Hem. Hij heeft je gemaakt, je bent uit Hem voortgekomen.
En zo mag je gaan als drager van die goddelijke aanwezigheid.
Dat is die verborgen schat binnen in jou.
Paulus zegt daarover:
Of zijt gij niet zo zeker van uzelf, dat Jezus Christus in u is?”.
2Cor.13: 5
Er wordt vaak zo negatief gedaan over mensen;
och, we zijn maar mensen.
Maar zo spreekt de Blijde Boodschap niet, dat zegt God niet.
God zegt: ‘Ik heb iets van Mijzelf in jou gelegd’;
” “En God zei: Laat Ons mensen maken naar Ons Beeld, als Onze Gelijkenis,
opdat zij heersen over de vissen in de zee en over het gevogelte aan de hemel en
over het vee en over de gehele aarde en over al het kruipende gedierte dat op de aardbodem kruipt. En God schiep de mens naar Zijn Beeld; naar Gods Beeld schiep Hij hem;
man en vrouw schiep Hij hen
”.
Genesis 1: 26; vergelijk 9: 6

Dat dit geen primitief idee is,
uit een ver verleden, toont het Geloof in Jezus van de apostelen.
Zij geloofden dat God verantwoordelijk is voor alle leven en dat alle mensen zijn voortgekomen uit dit eerste mensenpaar [Matth.19: 4; 1Cor.11 : 7; Jac.3: 9].
Maar wat wordt er bedoeld met: ‘naar ons beeld, als onze gelijkenis?
De mens heeft in bepaalde opzichten een gelijkenis met zijn Schepper.
Met de schepping van de mens heeft God iets van Zichzelf ‘gereproduceerd’ en er moet iets van God in die mens te herkennen zijn.
Wanneer deze later zelf nageslacht voortbrengt,
legt hij op zijn beurt zijn eigenschappen daarin;
het zijn afdrukken van zijn wezen:
Adam … verwekte [een zoon] naar zijn gelijkenis, als zijn beeld”.
Genesis 5: 3

Hiermee worden echter niet meer het beeld en gelijkenis van God bedoeld, maar de mens zoals Adam geworden is: zondig in het vlees, zodat hij de schoonheid en heerlijkheid van God niet in zich draagt.
Wanneer dit voor altijd was voortgegaan, zou Gods scheppingswerk een hopeloze mislukking zijn. God zei echter dat het goed was wat Hij had geschapen.
In Zijn alwetendheid moet Hij gezien hebben dat er uiteindelijk wèl
mensen met de heerlijkheid van zijn beeld en gelijkenis zouden zijn:
Want allen hebben gezondigd en ontberen [missen] de heerlijkheid van God”.
“… juist om de rijkdom van zijn heerlijkheid bekend te maken over de voorwerpen van ontferming, die Hij tot heerlijkheid heeft voorbereid”.
Rom.9: 23

“Wij dan . . . . .
hebben vrede met God door onze Heer Jezus Christus, door wie wij ook de toegang hebben verkregen tot deze genade, waarin wij staan, en roemen in de hoop op de heerlijkheid van God”.
Rom.5: 1-2

Het natuurlijke nageslacht van Adam kan Gods heerlijkheid niet weerspiegelen.
Dit is een voortdurend vraagpunt van gelovigen aan God.
David vroeg zich in een Psalm af welke verklaring er is voor die hoge plaats van de mens in Gods onmetelijke heelal, en de schrijver van de brief aan de Hebreeën wijst op de vervulling van Gods plan met ons in Christus Jezus:
Wat is de mens, dat U hem gedenkt?
Wat is mensenkind, dat Gij acht op hem slaat?
Toch hebt U hem slechts weinig beneden de engelen geplaatst:
Gij hebt hem gekroond met Glorie en eer
”.
Psalm 8: 4-9

“… maar wij zien Jezus …
met Heerlijkheid en Eer gekroond”.
Hebr.2: 6-9

In de persoon van Jezus heeft God uit de mensheid een nieuwe mens verwekt,
die deze heerlijkheid van God wel draagt en weerspiegelt.
De apostelen getuigen in de evangelieverslagen en brieven van
wat zij hebben gezien en ervaren van deze ‘Zoon des mensen’,
de mens bij uitnemendheid:
Wij hebben Zijn Heerlijkheid aanschouwd,
een heerlijkheid als van de enig-geborene van de Vader,
vol van Genade en Waarheid”.
Joh. 1:14
“Deze de afstraling van Zijn heerlijkheid, en de afdruk van Zijn wezen”.
Hebr.1: 3

Zij hebben twee kanten van Hem gezien:
Zijn gestalte als dienstknecht, die volmaakt de Wil van God deed, en
Zijn Verheerlijkte gestalte toen zij met Hem op de berg Thabor waren [Luc.9: 29; 2Petr.1: 16].
Zijn Verheerlijking op de berg was een voorproef van wat Hij zou ontvangen, wanneer Hij de wil van zijn Vader tot het laatst zou doen.
Hierin is Hij het voorbeeld voor wie in Hem gelooft:
Laat die gezindheid bij u zijn, welke ook in Christus Jezus was,
die in de Gestalte van God zijnde, het God gelijk zijn niet als een roof heeft geacht,
maar de Gestalte van een dienstknecht heeft aangenomen …
heeft Hij zich vernederd en is gehoorzaam geworden tot de dood,
ja tot de Kruisdood.
Daarom heeft God Hem ook uitermate verhoogd”.
Phil.2: 5-9; vergelijk Rom.8: 5-7

Door verbondenheid met Christus Jezus, en
in hun leven dezelfde gezindheid te tonen als Hij, kunnen ook andere mensen deel krijgen aan dezelfde natuur en dezelfde heerlijkheid weerspiegelen als Hij:
Want het voegde Hem…
dat Hij, om vele zonen tot heerlijkheid te brengen,
de Leidsman van hun behoudenis door lijden zou volmaken
”.
Hebr.2: 10
Daartoe heeft Hij u ook door ons Evangelie geroepen
tot het verkrijgen van de Heerlijkheid van onze Heer Jezus Christus
”.
2Thess.2: 14; 1Thess.2: 12; vergelijk 2Tim.2: 10
En wij allen, die …
de Heerlijkheid van de Heer weerspiegelen,
veranderen naar hetzelfde beeld
van Heerlijkheid tot heerlijkheid
…”.
2Cor.3: 18

Wanneer dit werkelijkheid is geworden,
zal Gods doel met de Schepping zijn bereikt; een nieuwe hemel en een nieuwe aarde.
Dan zijn de mensen als Zijn zonen, dragen zij Zijn beeld en
zal de aarde van Zijn Heerlijkheid vol worden:
En gelijk wij het beeld van de stoffelijke [Adam] gedragen hebben,
zo zullen wij het beeld van de Hemelse
[Christus] dragen”.
1Cor.15: 49
“… met reikhalzend verlangen wacht de schepping op
het openbaar worden van de zonen van God …
maar ook wij zelf…zuchten bij onszelf in de verwachting van het zoonschap…
Want die Hij tevoren gekend heeft,
heeft Hij ook tevoren bestemd tot gelijkvormigheid aan het beeld van zijn Zoon,
opdat Hij de eerstgeborene zou zijn onder vele broederen
”.
Rom.8: 19-30
Ik zal hem een God zijn en
hij zal Mij een zoon zijn
”.
Openbaring 21: 7
Geliefden, nu zijn wij kinderen van God, en
het is nog niet geopenbaard wat wij zijn zullen;
maar wij weten, dat, als Hij [Christus] zal geopenbaard zijn,
wij Hem gelijk zullen wezen …
”.
1Joh.3: 2

De Heilige Geest wordt vereerd als de Heer en Schenker van het leven.
Hij is geopenbaard in het leven van de Kerk om ons tot leven te brengen.
Ons tot in perfectie tot een verantwoordelijk en liefdevol mens te maken.
De vrucht van Aanbidding is de gaven van die Heilige Geest.
In zijn brief aan de Galaten wordt dit door Paulus geïdentificeerd als:
“Liefde, vreugde, vrede, geduld, vriendelijkheid, goedheid, trouw,
zachtmoedigheid en zelfbeheersing”.
Zeker, dit zijn de deugden van een Christelijk leven.
Ze getuigen van het feit dat de Liefde van en tot God en
de liefde tot de naaste onlosmakelijk met elkaar verbonden zijn.

Hij, die deze dingen getuigt,
zegt: Ja, Ik kom spoedig.
Amen, kom, Heer Jezus, kom!

Openbaring 22: 20

 

Thursday & Friday in the Holy week – they hated Him “without any cause”

If the world hates you,
you know that it hated Me before it hated you.
If you were of the world, the world would love its own.
Yet because you are not of the world,
but I chose you out of the world,
therefore the world hates you.
Remember the word that I said to you,
‘A servant is not greater than his master’.
If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.
If they kept My Word, they will keep yours also.
But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake,
because they do not know Him Who sent Me.
If I had not come and spoken to them,
they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.
He who hates Me hates My Father also.
If I had not done among them the works which no one else did,
they would have no sin;
but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father.
But this happened
that the word might be fulfilled
which is written in their law,
‘They hated Me without a cause’“.
John 15: 18-25

It is usually understood, that the quotation our Saviour here refers to
is to be found in David’s Psalm, where he says,
speaking of himself immediately and of the Saviour prophetically,
Let them not rejoice over me,
those who are unjustly my enemies
Those who hate me without a cause
“.
Psalm 34: 19

Our Saviour refers to that as being applicable to Himself and thus He really tells us, in effect, that many of the Psalms are Messianic, or refer to the Messiah;
and therefore I did not accident,
when it is said that I believed the Psalms referred to the Saviour,
though He may have carried the Truth too far.
But it will be a good plan, in reading the Psalms,
if we continually look at them as alluding not so much to David,
as to the Man of Whom was the type, Jesus Christ, David’s Lord.

• No being was ever more lovely than our Saviour;
it would seem almost impossible not to have affection for Him.
Certainly at first sight it would seem far more difficult to hate Him than to love Him.
And yet, loveable as He was, yes, “altogether lovely“,
no being so early met with hatred
and no creature ever endured such a continual persecution as He had to suffer.
He is no sooner ushered into the world,
than the sword of Herod is ready to cut Him off
and the innocents of Bethlehem by their dreadful massacre,
gave a sad foretaste of the sufferings which Christ would endure
and of the hatred that men would pour upon His devoted Head.
From His first moment to the Cross,
save the temporary silence while He was a child,
it seemed as if all the world were in league against Him
and all men sought to destroy Him.
In different ways that hatred displayed itself, sometimes in overt deed,
as when they took Him to the brow of the hill and would have cast Him down headlong,
or when they took up stones again to stone Him,
because He said that Abraham desired to see His day
and saw it, and was glad.

At other times that hatred showed itself in words of slander,
such as these,
– “The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say,
Behold a man gluttonous and a winebibber,
a friend of publicans and sinners.
But wisdom is justified of her children
“.
Matth.11: 19
or in looks of contempt, as when they looked suspiciously at Him,
because He did eat with publicans and sinners
and sat down to table with unwashed hands.
At other times that hatred dwelt entirely in their thoughts
and they thought within themselves,
This man blasphemes“, because He said,
your sins be forgiven you“.
But at almost every time there was a hatred towards Christ;
and when they took Him and would have made Him king and
a shallow fleeting flood of popular applause would have wetted Him on to an unsteady throne,
even then there was a latent hatred towards Him,
only kept under by loaves and fishes,
which only wanted an equal quantity of loaves and fishes offered by the priests,
to develop it itself in the cry of
Crucify him, crucify him“,
instead of the shout of
Hosannah! blessed is He
that comes in the Name of the Lord
“.
All grades of men hated Him.
Most men have to meet with some opposition;
but then it is frequently a class opposition
and there are other classes
who look at them with respect.
The demagogue, who is admired by the poor,
must expect to be despised by the rich;
and he who labours for the aristocracy,
of course meets with the contempt of the many.
But here was a Man Who walked among the people, Who loved them,
Who spoke to rich and poor as though they were [as indeed they are]
on one level in His blessed sight:
and yet all classes conspired to hate Him;
the priests cried Him down because he spoiled their dogmas;
the nobles would put Him to death because He spoke of being a king;
while the poor, for some reasons best known to themselves,
though they admired His eloquence,
and frequently would have fallen prostrate in worship before Him,
on account of the wondrous deeds He did,
even these, led by men who ought to have guided them better,
conspired to put Him to death
and to consummate their guilt by nailing Him to the Tree
and then wagging their heads, bade Him, if He could build a Temple in three days,
to save Himself and come down from the Cross.

Christ was the hated one,
the slandered and scorned;
He was “despised and rejected of men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief
“.
Isaiah 53: 3

Then, let us defend what the Saviour said,
– “They hated me without a cause“.
• And we remark, that, apart from the consideration of man’s sinfulness,
and Christ’s purity, there certainly is not cause, whatever to be discovered
why the world should have hated Him.
Let us regard Christ in His person.
Was there anything in Christ’s person as a man, when He lived in this world,
which had a natural tendency to make any person hate Him?
Let us remark, that there was an absence of almost everything
which excites hatred between man and man.
In the first place there was no great rank in Christ to excite envy.
It is a well-known fact that let a man be ever so good,
if He be at all lifted above His fellow-creatures by riches,
or by title, though one by one men will respect Him,
yet the many often speak against Him,
not so much for what He is, as for His rank and His title.
It seems to be natural to men in the mass to despise nobles;
each man, individually, thinks it a wonderful fine thing to know a lord;
but put men together and they will despise lords and even bishops
and speak very lightly of principalities and powers.
Now Christ had none of the outward circumstances of rank,
He had no chariot, no long sleeves, no elevation above His fellows;
when He walked abroad there were no heralds to attend Him,
there was no pomp to do Him honour.
In fact, one would think that Christ’s appearance
would naturally have engendered pity.
Instead of being lifted above men,
He did, in some sense, seem to be below them, for foxes had holes,
and the birds of the air had nests,
but the Son of Man had not where to lay His head.
The envy naturally excited by rank, station, and such-like,
could not have operated in Christ’s case;
there was nothing in His clothing to attract attention;
it was the clothing of the provincial of Galilee
-“of one piece, woven from the top throughout“[John 19: 23].
Nor was there anything in His rank.
He might have been the son of an ancient royal family,
but its royalty was apparently extinct
and He was only known as the son of the carpenter.
The hated Him, then, in that sense, “without a cause“.

• Many persons seem to have envy excited in them
against those who exercise rule or government over them.
The very fact of a man having authority over me
stirs up my evil passions
and I begin to look at him with suspicion,
because he is invested with that authority.
Some men naturally fall into the groove
and obey simply because the ruled is made;
principalities and powers are established
and they submit themselves for the Lord’s sake;
but the many seem to have a natural tendency
to kick against authority, simply because it is authority.
But if authorities and governments were changed every month,
I believe that in some countries, in historical Roesj for instance,
there would be revolutions as much under one government as under another;
in fact, they hate all government there and wish to be without law,
that each man may do what is right in his own eyes.
But this did not operate in Christ’s case,
– He was not a worldly king; He did not assume sway over the multitude.
It is True He was Lord over tempests and seas;
it is True He could command demons, and, if He pleased,
men must have been His obedient servants; but
– He did not assume power over them.
– He marshalled no armies, He promulgated no laws,
– He made Himself no great fellow in church or country; the people did just as they liked,
for all the authority He exercised over them.
In fact, instead of binding laws upon them which were severe,
– He seemed to have loosened the rigidity of their system; for when the adulterous woman, who, otherwise, would have been put to death, was brought before Him,
He said,
Neither do I condemn you” [John 8:11].
And He relaxed, to a certain extent,
the rigidity of the Sabbatical ordinance,
which was in some respects too burthensome,
saying, ” the Sabbath was made for man not man for the sabbath“[Marc.2: 27].
Surely, then, they hated Him “without a cause“.

• Some men make others dislike them because they are proud.
I know some men that I should have liked very well
if the starch had been left out of them;
I should really sympathize with them and admire them
if they had the least degree of condescension,
but they seem to walk about the world with such a style of pride!
They may not be proud
– very likely they are not; but, as an old divine said,
Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons
and healing people today and tomorrow,
and on the third day I will reach my goal’
“.
Luc.13: 32
And, somehow or other,
the human mind cannot bear pride; we always kick against it.
But there was nothing of that in our Saviour.
How Humble He was! Why He stooped to anything.
He would wash His disciples’ feet;
and when He walked about among men,
there was no parade about Him, as if He would say to them,
See my talent, see my power, see my rank, see my dignity,
stand by, I am greater than you

No, He takes His seat there.
There is Matthew, the publican, sitting beside Him
and He does not think He is hurt by the publican,
although He is the worst of sinners;
and there is a harlot, He speaks to her;
there is another with seven devils
and He casts the devils out of her,
and another, who has the leprosy,
and He even touches the leper,
to show how Humble He was and
that there was nothing of pride about Him.

Could you have seen the Saviour;
He was the very archetype of humility!
There were none of your forms of etiquette and politeness about Him;
He had that True politeness which makes itself affable to all men,
because it is kind and loving to all.
There was no pride in the Saviour
and consequently there was nothing to excite men’s anger on that account.
Therefore, they hated Him “without a cause“.

• There are others that you cannot help disliking,
because they are so snappish, and waspish, and angry;
they look as if they were born on some terribly dark stormy day
and as if, in the mixture of their body, no small quantity of vinegar was employed.
You could not sit long with them, without feeling
that you have to keep your tongue in pretty tight chain;
you must not talk freely or there would be a quarrel,
for they would make you an offender for a word.
You may say,
Such an one is, no doubt a good man” [Matth.19:17];
but really, that temper of his I cannot bear it.
And when a man stands prominently before the public,
with a nasty sour disposition,
one feels inclined to dislike Him.
But there was nothing of this about our Saviour.
When He was reviled, He reviled not again“[1Petr.2: 23]:
if men spat in His face He said nothing to them;
and when they smote Him, He did not curse them;
He sat still and bore their scorn.
He walked through the world,
with contempt and infamy constantly poured upon him;
but “He answered not a word“[Matth.27: 14];
He was never angry.
You cannot find, in reading the Saviour’s life,
that He spoke one angry word,
save those words of Holy anger which He poured,
like scalding oil, upon the head of pharisaic pride;
then, indeed, His anger did boil, but it was Holy anger.
With such a loving, kind, gentle spirit, one would have thought
that he would have gone through the world as easily as possible.
But, notwithstanding all that, they hated him.
Truly, we can say, “They hated Him without a cause“.

• There is another set of people you can scarcely help disliking;
they are selfish people.
Now, we know some persons who are very excellent in temper,
who are extremely honest and upright, but they are so selfish!
When you are with them, you feel that they are just friends to you
for what they can get out of you; and when you have served their turn,
they will just lay you aside, and endeavour to find another.
In trying to do good, their good deed has an ulterior object,
but, somehow or other, they are always found out;
and no man in the world gets a greater share of public odium
than the man who lives a selfish life.
Among the most miserable men in the universe,
kicked about the world like a football, is the selfish collector.

But in Christ there was nothing selfish;
whatever He did, He did for others.
He had a marvellous Power of working Miracles,
but He would not even change a stone into bread for Himself” [Matth.4: 3];
He reserved His Miraculous Power for others;
He did not seem to have a particle of self in His whole nature.
In fact, the description of His life might be written very briefly:
He saved others, Himself He did not save“[Matth.27: 42].
He walked about; He touched the poorest, the meanest
and those who were the most sick;
He cared not what men might say of Him;
He seemed to have no regard for fame, or dignity, or ease, or honour.
Neither His bodily nor his mental comforts were in the least regarded by Him.
Self-sacrifice was the life of Christ;
but He did it with such an ease that it seemed no sacrifice.
Ah! beloved, in that sense certainly they hated Christ without a cause;
for there was nothing in Christ to excite their hatred
– in fact, there was everything, on the other hand,
to bind the whole world to love
and reverence a character so eminently unselfish.

• Another sort of people there are that I do not like, namely the hypocritical;
nay, I think I could even live with the selfish man, if I knew him to be selfish;
but the hypocrite, do not let him come anywhere near where I am.
Let a public man be a hypocrite once
and the world will scarcely trust him again; they will hate him.
But Christ was, in this particular, free from any blame;
and if they hated Him, they hated Him not for that,
for there never was a more unvarnished man than Christ.
He was called, you know, the child Jesus;
because as a child speaks itself out and has no reserve,
and no craftiness, even so was it with Jesus;
He had no affectation, no deceit.
There was no change about Him;
He was “without variableness or shadow of turning“[Jac.1: 17].
Whatever the world may say of Christ,
they never said they believed He was a hypocrite;
and among all the slanders they brought against Him,
they never disputed His sincerity.
Had they been able to show that He really had been imposing upon them,
they might have had some grounds for hating Him;
but He lived in the Sunlight of sincerity
and walked on the very mountain-top of continual observation.
He could not be a hypocrite and men knew He could not;
and yet men hated Him.
Verily, my friends, if you survey the character of Christ, in all its loveliness,
in all its benevolence, in all its sincerity, in all its self-devotion,
in all intense eagerness to benefit man, you must say, indeed,
“They hated him without a cause”
there was nothing in Christ’s person to lead men to hate Him.

• In the next place, was there anything in Christ’s errand
which could make people hate Him?
If they had asked Him, for what reason have you come from Heaven?
would there have been anything in His answer likely to excite their indignation and hatred?
I troy not. For what purpose did He come?
He came, first of all, to explain Mysteries
– to tell them what was meant by the Sacrificial Lamb,
what was the significance of the scape-goat,
what was intended by the Ark, the brazen serpent, and the pot of manna;
He came to rend the veil of the Holy of holies,
and to show men secrets they had never seen before.
Should they have hated one Who lifted the veil of Mystery
and made dark things light, and expounded riddles?
Should they have hated Him Who taught them
what Abraham desired to see, and what Prophets and kings had longed to know,
but died without a knowledge of?
Was there anything in that to make them hate Him?
What else did he come for?
He came on earth to reclaim the wanderer;
and is there anything in that that should make men hate Christ?
If He came to reform the drunkard, to reclaim the harlot,
and gather in the publicans and sinners,
and bring prodigals to their Father’s House again,
sure that is the Object with which every philanthropist should agree;
it is that for which our governments are formed and fashioned,
to bring men to a better state; and if Christ came for that purpose,
was there anything in that to make men hate him?
For what else did He come?
He came to heal the diseases of the body;
is that a legitimate object of hatred?
Shall I hate the Physician Who goes about
gratuitously healing all manner of diseases?
Are deaf ears unstopped, are mouths opened, are the dead raised,
are the blind made to see, and widows blest with their sons?
Are these causes why a man should be obnoxious?
Surely, He might well say,
For which of these works do you stone me?
If I have done good works wherefore speak ye against me?
“[John 10: 32].
But none of these works were the cause of men’s hatred;
they hated Him without a cause.

• And He came on earth to die, that sinners might not die?
Was that a cause of hatred?
Ought I to hate the Saviour,
because He came to quench the flames of hell for me?
Should I despise Him Who allowed His Father’s flaming sword
to be quenched in His own vital blood?
Shall I look with indignation upon the substitute
Who takes my sin and grief’s upon Him, and carries my sorrows?
Shall I hate and despise the man Who loved me better than He loved Himself
– Who loved me so much that He visited the gloomy grave for my Salvation?
Are these the causes of hatred?
Surely His errand was one
that ought to have made us sing His praise for ever,
and join the harps of angels in their rapturous songs.
“They hated Me without a cause.”

• But once more: was there anything in Christ’s doctrine
that should have made us hate Him?
No, we answer; there was nothing in His doctrine
that should have excited men’s hatred.
Take His pre-locked up doctrines.
Did He not teach us to do to others as we would they should to us?
Was He not also the exponent of everything lovely and honourable, and of good report?
And was not His teaching the very essence of virtue, so that if virtue’s Self had written it,
it could not have written such a perfect code of lovely morals, and excellent virtues.
Was it the ethical part of his doctrines that men hated?
He taught that rich and poor must stand on one level;
He taught that His Gospel was not to be confined to one particular church or nation,
but was to be Gloriously expansive, so as to cover the whole world?
This perhaps, was one principal reason of their hating Him;
but surely there was no justifiable cause for their indignation in this.
There was nothing in Christ to lead men to hate him.
“They hated him without a cause.”

• And now I come to dwell on man’s sin,
that He should have hated the Saviour without a cause.
Ah!, I will not tell you of man’s adulteries, and fornications,
and murders, and poisonings, and sodomies.
I will not tell you of man’s wars, and bloodsheds,
and cruelties, and rebellions;
If I want to tell you man’s sin,
I must tell you that man has to make up his mind
– that he put to death His God, and slew His Saviour;
and when I have told you that, I have given you the essence of all sin,
the master-piece of crime, the very pinnacle and climax of
the terrific pyramid of mortal guilt.
Man outdid himself when he put His Saviour to death,
and sin did out
– Herod when it slew the Lord of the universe,
the Lover of the race of man, Who came on earth to die.
Never does sin appear so exceedingly sinful
as when we see it pointed at the Person of Christ,
Whom it hated without a cause. In every other case,
when man has hated goodness, there have always been some extenuating circumstances.
We never do see goodness in this world without mixed ingredients;
however great may be any man’s goodness,
there is always some nail whereon we may hang a censure;
however excellent a man may be, there is always some fault
which may diminish our admiration of our love.
But in the Saviour there was nothing of this.
There was nothing that could blot the picture;
Holiness stood out to the very life; there was Holiness – only Holiness.
There was nothing in Him but Holiness:
and any person with half an eye can see, that the thing men hated was simply
that Christ was perfect; they could not have hated Him for anything else.
And thus you see the abominable, detestable evil of the human heart
– that man hates goodness simply because it is such.

• Brokenness we see nowadays is not what He intended:
domestic violence, corrupted governments,
resentful nations and bitter Church congregations.
We all know that when the Lord created this world,
everything was ‘Good‘ and ‘in order‘.
His purpose for Humanity is so that everyone
can enjoy this relationship with Him and worship Him.
But until we realize and truly understand
how fearfully and wonderfully we were made,
Whom we belong to and why we are even here,
we will not be able to fulfil God’s Purpose in the world.

Will we not help one another
to bring the beauty within each of us out?
Will we not allow our hearts to be broken
for what breaks Him?
Will we not use our God-given talents to serve our families,
neighbours or even strangers?
And will we not pour our hearts, thoughts and spirits
in seeking and searching for Him
in order to have more of His Love every day?

We are children of the King.
Let us do all this, and many more.
And now may you who hate Christ love Him;
that He would bring Himself to you now!
That He would show himself to you!
And then sure you must love Him at once.
He that believeth on the Lord Jesus will be sure to love Him
and he that love Him shall be saved.
That God would give you Faith
and give you Love,
for Christ Jesus’ sake!

Today is the day of your judgment. Do not fear.
Come, bare your back with Him Who bared His back and was not ashamed.
Come, turn your face, and turn it without looking backward,
as  the Prophet said about Him,
I turned not backward [never]”.
Isaiah 50: 5

Do not be afraid. Walk, step by step.
That is the Price of your minor sins,
the cost of violating God’s minor commandments.
Come, come with Me,
share this punishment that can wash your flesh, blood, and bones
and make you reborn with the flesh of a new-born babe.

Today is the Day of Judgment of mankind for minor sins.
Come, come, O sinners, those with a heavy conscience,
those burdened by sin; come, for this Day is yours.
Come to sate the passions of your conscience,
to live without a conscience burdened by sin,
not with a conscience that has sinned,
but with a conscience that has been purified
and cleansed to become whiter than snow [Psalm 50].

They clothed Him with a crimson robe
on the Day of the Cross,
which is in fulfilment of the Prophecy:
Who is this that comes from Edom,
in crimsoned garments from Bozrah“,
Isaiah 63: 1
i.e., crimson robes stained with blood.
The mention of a crimson robe here has a beautiful reference to the cross:
Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow,
though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool“.
Isaiah 1: 18
The wool here refers to the robe of the Lamb on the Cross.
They stripped Him, dressed Him in a crimson robe
and lifted Him up, revealing the royal robe.
Christ donned the robe of Glory,
the robe of Eternal Purity.

But when the Comforter is come,
Whom I will send unto you from the Father,
even the Spirit of truth, Which proceeds from the Father,
He shall testify of me:
And you also shall bear witness,
because you have been with Me
from the beginning
“.
John 15: 26-27

Psalms created on Truth – PSALM 70 – How to grow old

O God, in You I hope;
may I never be put to shame.
Deliver me in your righteousness,
and set me free;
Incline Your ear to me and save me.
Be to me a God for Protection
and a strong place for Salvation,
for You are my Foundation and my refuge.
O my God,
deliver me from the hand of the sinner,
from the hand of those who transgress the Law and act un-justly;
for You are my patience, O Lord;
the Lord from my youth.
by You I have been supported from birth;
from my mother’s womb You have been my Protector;
My song shall be always of You.
I am become as a wonder to many,
and You are my strong Helper.
Let my mouth be filled with Your praise,
that I may sing of Your Glory
and of Your Magnificence all the day long.
Do not abandon me in the time of old age;
when my strength fails do not forsake me.
For my enemies speak against me,
and those who watch for my soul plot together,
saying, “God forsook him; pursue and lay hold of him,
for there is no deliverer”.
o God, do not stand far off from me;
O my God, give heed to help me.
Let those who falsely accuse my soul
be shamed and forsaken;
let those who seek evils for me
be covered with shame and reproach.
But I will hope continually,
and I will add to all Your praise.
My mouth shall proclaim Your Righteousness,
Your Salvation all the day,
for I am not acquainted with learning.
I shall enter into the Power of the Lord;
O Lord, I shall remember Your Righteousness,
Yours alone.
You taught me, O God, from my youth,
and from then until now I will
proclaim Your Wonders.
And even to old age and to my last breath,
O God, do not abandon me,
until I proclaim Your Arm to every
coming generation,
your mighty Deeds and Your
Righteousness.
O God, I proclaim the magnificent
Things You did,
even to the highest Heaven;
O God, Who is like You?
How great end evil are the afflictions
You showed me,
and You returned, and made me live;
and You raised me up again from the
depths of the earth.
You multiplied Your Greatness,
and You returned and comforted me;|You brought me up again from the
depth of the earth.
Truly, I will give thanks to You with the
instrument of a Psalm, o God;
I will sing to You with the lyre,
O Holy One of Israel.
My lips will greatly rejoice
when I sing to You:
So will my soul,
which You redeemed.
My tongue shall meditate on
Your Righteousness all the day long,
when those who seek evils for me
are dishonoured and shamed“.
Psalm 70
Mp3: Psalmul 70 [Romanian] 

εις σαλωμων ο θεος το κριμα σου τω βασιλει δος
και την δικαιοσυνην σου τω υιω του βασιλεως
κρινειν τον λαον σου εν δικαιοσυνη
και τους πτωχους σου εν κρισει
αναλαβετω τα ορη ειρηνην τω λαω σου
και οι βουνοι εν δικαιοσυνη
κρινει τους πτωχους του λαου
και σωσει τους υιους των πενητων
και ταπεινωσει συκοφαντην
και συμπαραμενει τω ηλιω
και προ της σεληνης γενεας γενεων
και καταβησεται ως υετος επι ποκον
και ωσει σταγονες σταζουσαι επι την γην
ανατελει εν ταις ημεραις αυτου δικαιοσυνη
και πληθος ειρηνης εως ου ανταναιρεθη η σεληνη
και κατακυριευσει απο θαλασσης εως θαλασσης
και απο ποταμου εως περατων της οικουμενης
ενωπιον αυτου προπεσουνται αιθιοπες
και οι εχθροι αυτου χουν λειξουσιν
βασιλεις θαρσις και αι νησοι δωρα προσοισουσιν βασιλεις αραβων
και σαβα δωρα προσαξουσιν
και προσκυνησουσιν αυτω παντες οι βασιλεις παντα τα εθνη δουλευσουσιν αυτω
οτι ερρυσατο πτωχον εκ χειρος δυναστου
και πενητα ω ουχ υπηρχεν βοηθος
φεισεται πτωχου και πενητος
και ψυχας πενητων σωσει
εκ τοκου και εξ αδικιας λυτρωσεται τας ψυχας αυτων
και εντιμον το ονομα αυτων ενωπιον αυτου
και ζησεται και δοθησεται αυτω εκ του χρυσιου της αραβιας κ
αι προσευξονται περι αυτου δια παντος ολην την ημεραν ευλογησουσιν αυτον
εσται στηριγμα εν τη γη επ’ ακρων των ορεων υπεραρθησεται υπερ τον λιβανον
ο καρπος αυτου και εξανθησουσιν εκ πολεως ωσει χορτος της γης
εστω το ονομα αυτου ευλογημενον εις τους αιωνας προ του ηλιου διαμενει το ονομα αυτου
και ευλογηθησονται εν αυτω πασαι αι φυλαι της γης παντα τα εθνη μακαριουσιν αυτον
ευλογητος κυριος ο θεος ο θεος ισραηλ ο ποιων θαυμασια μονος
και ευλογητον το ονομα της δοξης αυτου εις τον αιωνα
και εις τον αιωνα του αιωνος
και πληρωθησεται της δοξης αυτου πασα η γη γενοιτο γενοιτο
εξελιπον οι υμνοι δαυιδ του υιου ιεσσαι

I am the first one taken captive
In Psalm 70 teaches the [Orthodox] Church
about deliverance  from  taken captive to the devil and his angels [my enemies vs 10; Eph 6: 12].
For these enemies ensnared mankind in the fear of death and the lifetime of bondage it begotten“.
Hebr.2: 15
But from birth to death, we are delivered
by the Lord Jesus Christ from fear.
For we are delivered and set free in His Righteousness,
on which we meditate . . . . .
all the day long . . . . .

Everyone born into this world becomes a captive of Satan by birth.
We are called children of Hell,
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!
for you compass sea and land to make one proselyte
and when he is made, you make him twofold more
the child of hell than yourselves
Matth.23: 15
Every individual born into this world is a captive of Satan,
as his parents are captives
– all are born under the power of the devil and his angels.
Salvation then is a deliverance from the power of the devil
and a Translation into the Kingdom of God [Col. l: 13].
The law of the slave:
If a slave married while he was yet a slave,
even though he obtained his freedom at the end of seven years,
his wife and children born while in slavery still belonged to the slave master
until they were able to obtain their freedom individually.
Though you and I may be redeemed by the Grace of God,
delivered from Satan by God’s power, yet our children born to us are captives of Satan.
They are captives by birth. Now you let that soak into your heart, Mother!
Let that soak into your heart, Father
“.
Ex.21: 2-4
Christ said: “You are of your father the devil,
and the lusts of your father you will do“.
John 8: 44
So every individual out of Christ is a captive of Satan,
held prisoner by Satan, a child of Satan, and a child of Hell,
until he is redeemed by the Blood of Christ
and delivered by power from Satan.

With these thoughts in mind,
let’s notice now the conditions of Satan’s captives.
Every individual held captive by Satan is in the kingdom of Satan,
which is the kingdom of darkness [Acts 26: 18].
Paul was commanded to preach to turn sinners
– “from darkness to Light
and from the power of Satan unto God“.
This great truth is also stated in,
Who [God] has delivered us from the power of darkness
and has translated us into the Kingdom of His Dear Son“.
Col.1: 13
Sinners of today are not in the place that God put them
when He placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden;
they have been transported into another kingdom, into a far country [Luc.15: 13].
They are far away from God, from the New Covenant and from His Son.
How long will I take counsel in my soul,
having grief in my heart daily?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
“.
Psalm 12: 3

The “freeing from sin”,
and also the “making them servants to righteousness
Rom. 6: 18, which is better than any freedom.
For God has done the same
as if a person were to take an orphan,
who had been carried away by savages into their own country
and were not only to free him from captivity,
but were to set a kind father ever him
and bring him to very great dignity.
And this has been done in our case;
for it was not our old evils alone that He freed us from,
since He even led us to the life of angels
and paved the way for us to the best conversation;
handing us over to the safe keeping of Righteousness
and killing our former evils and deadening the old man
and leading us to an immortal life.

So when you could see your own situation,
you would be the most unhappy subject
that Satan ever had in his kingdom.
I know I am writing to some Orthodox believers
who are very unhappy to say to be a sinner.
Ah, you are stirred, you are deeply moved. You are miserable.
The only reason a sinner is content in his present state
is because he is asleep in Satan’s lap,
We know that we are children of God
and that the whole world is
under the control of the evil one
“.
1John 5: 19
I am a sinner, this is my shameful case.
I am a captive of Satan. Once I was there.
When God opened my eyes and showed me my awful, ruined condition,
when He showed me that I was held captive by Satan,
that I could not flee his territory – I could not break his bands!
Knowing that He had proclaimed liberty unto the captives,
I cried unto the Lord and He heard my cry,
He broke the bands of Satan, and set me free
– gave me liberty in Christ Jesus, the Lord!

Then, I, sinner-friend,
I have not only been transported to the kingdom of darkness,
been plundered and robbed and stripped,
but I was conquered by the power of Satan.
I was no longer master of myself.
Who are taken captive by him at his will” [2Tim.2: 26].
My liberty is gone, and gone forever,
unless Christ delivers me;
I am a slave to the master of tyrants
and I am serving him to my own ruin.
I am not only his captive, a sinner-friend,
but, alas! I have no liberty.
I have to come and go at his stream and call;
I have to obey his every command, according to
I see another law at work in me,
waging war against the law of my mind
and making me a prisoner of the law of sin
at work within me
” [Rom. 7: 23].
I am a sinner-friend, if I get anything of any value, I can’t keep it;
the devil tears it from you.
If I receive a conviction of sin
and make a resolution to amend my life,
I can’t carry it out
– Satan will not rest until I have thrown it away.
I may be seemingly deeply moved under this message
and I may be made to cry out and say,
“Indeed that’s my condition;
this is describing me,
but I can’t retain the impressions.
All my resolutions pass away”.
It is because Satan will not let you keep them.
You are bent on pleasing Satan.
That’s right, but:
Christ has rescued us from the dominion of darkness
and brought us into the Kingdom of the Son God loves
in Whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
The Son of God is the image of the invisible God,
the Firstborn over all Creation
“.
Col.1: 13-15
You may ask, “Why doesn’t God come and deliver me now?“.
My friend, it may be that He wants
you to realize fully what your condition is in Satan’s territory
so that you will never forget from whence He delivered you.

I want to tell you,
I’ll never forget from whence the Lord delivered this poor old sinner!
Never do I cease to thank my Deliverer, the Lord Jesus,
for hearing my cry, coming to my rescue,
taking me by force out of Satan’s net as his prisoner
and setting my feet upon the rock of freedom in Christ
and putting a new song in my mouth
a song of deliverance,
whereby I am praising Him daily
for Salvation and Deliverance.
O God, I proclaim
the Magnificent things You did,
even to the highest Heaven;
O God, Who is like You?
“.
Psalm 70: 19

God’s Holy Personality is  Sublime,
unsearchable, exalted, and Glorious
is His Way of making men righteous.
His plan of righteousness uplifts men
from the gates of hell
to the country seat of Heaven.

Man is a great mystery,
a sacred mystery of God.
So great and so sacred,
that God Himself became man,
in order to give us understanding
of all the depth of the mystery of Man“.
Justinus Popovitch [1894 – 1979]

Psalms created on Truth – Psalm 12, – faith and trust in God

To speak of God’s “Grace” is
to put feeble words in the service of describing
the infinite goodness and love of God
which reaches out to his creatures prior
to their own reaching [Eph.2: 4,5; Rom.5: 8].
To speak of God’s Grace is to speak of God’s capacity
to initiate and complete His work of restoring
a broken world
and reconciling alienated people.
As the Kingdom of Grace, it does not come
because we pull it into the world,
but because God unceasingly works toward
its consummation with Christ’s return.

Yet, we get the wrong picture altogether
if we forget the unique shape of God’s ongoing activity.
God chose to create a world in which His ordinary, inadequate creatures – you and me – are invited to participate in the drama of God’s Kingdom activity.
He invites us to discover and play our role,
a role that always follows after at a distance,
but a genuine role nonetheless.

So we might say this: to pray
Your Kingdom come,
your will to be done
on earth and it is in Heaven” is
to confess a tension that requires of us not only Grace
– that God’s Kingdom comes by His Power alone
– but impatience as well.

To pray with impatience
is to recognize and confess that things are not as they should be
and not as they will be when the Kingdom of Christ comes in its completeness.
To pray with impatience is to be more dis-satisfied
than I am afraid most of us are
– or at least I have been.

In a world broken and marred by sin
– full of pain and confusion and our lives brimming with so many unfinished sentences –
praying
Your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in Heaven
requires of us and fosters in us
a growing dis-satisfaction with the world as it stands.
To hunger and thirst,
to long and to ache for the Kingdom to come
is to pray as the same Grace and impatience
as the Psalmist did
How long O, Lord?
Will You forget me to the end?
How long will You turn Your Face from me?
How long will I take counsel in my soul,
having grief in my heart daily?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
look upon me and hear me, O Lord, my God;
enlighten my eyes, lest I sleep in death,
Lest my enemy say,
‘I prevailed against him’,
those who afflict me greatly rejoice,
if I am shaken.
But I hope in Your Mercy;
my heart shall greatly rejoice in Your Salvation;
I will sing to the Lord, Who shows kindness to me;
I will sing to the Name of the Lord Most High
”.
Psalm 12

Ψαλμοί 12
Μέχρι πότε, Κύριε, θα με λησμονείς για πάντα; Μέχρι πότε θα κρύβεις από μένα το πρόσωπό σου;
Μέχρι πότε θα έχω βουλές μέσα στην ψυχή μου, οδύνες καθημερινά μέσα στην καρδιά μου; Μέχρι πότε θα υψώνεται επάνω μου ο εχθρός μου;
Επίβλεψε· εισάκουσέ με, Κύριε, Θεέ μου· φώτισε τα μάτια μου, μήπως κοιμηθώ τον ύπνο τού θανάτου·
μήπως και ο εχθρός μου πει: Υπερίσχυσα εναντίον του, κι αυτοί που με θλίβουν υπερχαρούν, αν σαλευτώ.
Εγώ, όμως, έλπισα στο έλεός σου· η καρδιά μου θα αγάλλεται στη σωτηρία σου.
Θα ψάλλω στον Κύριο, επειδή με αντάμειψε.

Must I bear pain in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all day long?
When do we have faith in God?
When things are going well, when our health is good
and our back account balanced?
The psalmist has pain in his soul and sorrow in his heart.
This is  David deep in suffering,
yet he says he has trusted in God’s steadfast love
and his heart shall rejoice in God’s Salvation!
We can learn a  great lesson by meditating on this concept.
David doesn’t say,
I’m suffering and when this is over, I’ll praise  my God“, or
As soon as life is going my way again, I’ll get back to  being thankful“.
Instead he trusts so much in God’s ultimate ability
to  save him from his misery,
that he rejoices in the middle of his sorrow!
This to me is ultimate Faith in God:
to trust in Him when everything is  going wrong,
to continue believing help is coming
even when the sky is  dark with threatening clouds
and no one comes forth to comfort us
[this Psalm is used in Great Compline and during Lent].

This comes from “We shall see him as He is
by Blessed Archmandrite Sophrony:
O Lord, I am weak.  Thou knowest this.
In fear I seek the way to Thee.  Despise me not.
Forsake me not in my fall.
Draw near even unto me, who am of no account, yet I thirst after Thee.
Take up Thine abode in me and do Thou Thyself perform in me all
that Thou hast commanded of us.  
Make me Thine for ever and ever, in love unshakable
“.
It doesn’t give what Psalm it is.

April 1st – life & history of Saint Mary, Holy Mother of Egypt

From the Great Canon,
the Work of Saint Andrew of Crete,
heard in church during the service
at Wednesdaybefore the Sunday of Saint Mary of Egypt.

It is good to hide the secret of a king,
but it is glorious to reveal
and preach the works of God
” [Tobit 12: 7].
So said the Archangel Raphael to Tobit when he performed the wonderful healing of his blindness.
Actually, not to keep the secret of a king is perilous and a terrible risk, but to be silent about the works of God is a great loss for the soul.
And I  [so says Saint Sophronius of Jerusalem ►],
in writing the life of Saint Mary of Egypt,
am afraid to hide the works of God by silence.
Remembering the misfortune threatened to the servant who hid his God-given talent in the earth. [Matth.25: 18-25];
I am bound to pass on the holy account that has reached me.
And let no one think [continues Saint Sophronius]
that I have had the audacity to write untruth or doubt this great marvel
—> may I never lie about Holy things!
If there do happen to be people who, after reading this record,
do not believe it, may the Lord have Mercy on them because,
reflecting on the weakness of human nature,
they consider impossible these wonderful things accomplished by Holy people.
But now we must begin to tell this most amazing story,
which has taken place in our generation.

There was a certain elder in one of the monasteries of Palestine, a priest of the Holy life and speech,
who from childhood had been brought up in monastic ways and customs.
This elder’s name was Zosimas.
He had been through the whole course of the ascetic life
and in everything he adhered to the rule once given to him
by his tutors as regard spiritual labours.
He had also added a good deal himself whilst labouring to subject his flesh to the will of the spirit.
And he had not failed in his aim.
He was so renowned for his spiritual life that many came to him from neighbouring monasteries
and some even from afar.
While doing all this, he never ceased to study the Divine Scriptures.
Whether resting, standing, working or eating food
[if the scraps he nibbled could be called food],
he incessantly and constantly had a single aim:
always to sing of God, and to practice the teaching of the Divine Scriptures.
Zosimas used to relate how, as soon as he was taken from his mother’s breast,
he was handed over to the monastery where he went through his training
as an ascetic till he reached the age of 53.
After that, he began to be tormented with the thought
that he was perfect in everything and needed no instruction from anyone,
saying to himself mentally,
Is there a monk on earth who can be of use to me
and show me a kind of asceticism that I have not accomplished?
Is there a man to be found in the desert who has surpassed me?

Thus thought the elder, when suddenly
an angel appeared to him and said:

Zosimas, valiantly have you struggled, as far as this is within the power of man, valiantly have you gone through the ascetic course.
But there is no man who has attained perfection.
Before you lie unknown struggles greater than those you have already accomplished.
That you may know how many other ways lead to Salvation,
leave your native land like the renowned patriarch Abraham
and go to the monastery by the River Jordan
“.

Zosimas did as he was told. he left the monastery in which he had lived from childhood
and went to the River Jordan.
At last he reached the community to which God had sent him.
Having knocked at the door of the monastery,
he told the monk who was the porter who he was;
and the porter told the abbot.
On being admitted to the abbot’s presence,
Zosimas made the usual monastic prostration and prayer.
Seeing that he was a monk the abbot asked:

Where do you come from, my brother
and why have you come to us poor old men?

Zosimas replied:

There is no need to speak about where I have come from,
but I have come, father, seeking spiritual profit,
for I have heard great things about your skill in leading souls to God
“.

My brother“, the abbot said to him,
Only God can heal the infirmity of the soul.
May He teach you and us His Divine ways and guide us.
But as it is the love of Christ that has moved you
to visit us poor old men, then stay with us,
if that is why you have come.
May the Good Shepherd Who laid down His life for our Salvation
fill us all with the Grace of the Holy Spirit
“.

After this, Zosimas bowed to the abbot,
asked for his prayers and blessing, and stayed in the monastery.
There he saw elders proficient both in action and the contemplation of God,
aflame in spirit, working for the Lord.
They sang incessantly, they stood in prayer all night,
work was ever in their hands and Psalms on their lips.
Never an idle word was heard among them,
they know nothing about acquiring temporal goods or the cares of life.
But they had one desire —> to become in body like corpses.
Their constant food was the Word of God
and they sustained their bodies on bread and water,
as much as their love for God allowed them Seeing this,
Zosimas was greatly edified and
prepared for the struggle that lay before him.

Many days passed and the time drew near when all Christians fast and prepare themselves to worship the Divine Passion and Resurrection of Christ.
The monastery gates were kept always locked and only opened
when one of the community was sent out on some errand.
It was a desert place, not only unvisited by people of the world but even unknown to them.

There was a rule in that monastery which was the reason why God brought Zosimas there.
At the beginning of the Great Fast [on Forgiveness Sunday]
the priest celebrated the Divine Liturgy
and all partook of the Holy Body and Blood of Christ.
After the Holy Liturgy they went to the refectory
and would eat a little Lenten food.

Then all gathered in church, and after praying earnestly with prostrations,
the elders kissed one another and asked forgiveness.
And each made a prostration to the abbot
and asked his blessing and prayers for the struggle that lay before them.
After this, the gates of the monastery were thrown open, and singing,
“The Lord is my Light and my Saviour; whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the Defender of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” [Psalm 26: 1]
and the rest of that Psalm, all went out into the desert and crossed the River Jordan.
Only one or two brothers were left in the monastery,
not to guard the property [for there was nothing to rob],
but so as not to leave the church without Divine Service.
Each took with him as much as he could or wanted in the way of food,
according to the needs of his body:
one would take a little bread, another some figs,
another dates or wheat soaked in water.
And some took nothing but their own body covered with rags and fed
when nature forced them to it on the plants that grew in the desert.

After crossing the Jordan, they all scattered far and wide in different directions.
And this was the rule of life they had, and which they all observed
—> neither to talk to one another, nor to know how each one lived and fasted.
If they did happen to catch sight of one another,
they went to another part of the country, living alone and always singing to God,
and at a definite time eating a very small quantity of food.
In this way they spent the whole of the fast
and used to return to the monastery
a week before the Resurrection of Christ, on Palm Sunday.
Each one returned having his own conscience as the witness of his labour
and no one asked another how he had spent his time in the desert.
Such were rules of the monastery.
Every one of them whilst in the desert struggled with himself
before the Judge of the struggle — God — not seeking to please men
and fast before the eyes of all.
For what is done for the sake of men, to win praise and honour,
is not only useless to the one who does it
but sometimes the cause of great punishment.

Zosimas did the same as all.
And he went far, far into the desert with a secret hope of finding
some father who might be living there and who might be able
to satisfy his thirst and longing.
And he wandered on tireless, as if hurrying on to some definite place.
He had already walked for 20 days and when the 6th hour came he stopped
and, turning to the East, he began to sing the sixth Hour
and recite the customary prayers.
He used to break his journey thus at fixed hours of the day to rest a little,
to chant Psalms standing and to pray on bent knees.

And as he sang thus without turning his eyes from the Heavens,
he suddenly saw to the right of the hillock
on which he stood the semblance of a human body.
At first he was confused thinking he beheld a vision of the devil,
and even started with fear.
But, having guarded himself with the sign of the Cross and banished all fear,
he turned his gaze in that direction and in Truth saw some form gliding southwards.
It was naked, the skin dark as if burned up by the heat of the sun;
the hair on its head was white as a fleece,
and not long, falling just below its neck.
Zosimas was so overjoyed at beholding a human form
that he ran after it in pursuit, but reform fled from him. He followed.
At length, when he was near enough to be heard, he shouted:

Why do you run from an old man and a sinner?
Slave of the True God, wait for me, whoever you are,

in God’s name I tell you, for the love of God
for Whose sake you are living in the desert
“.

Forgive me for God’s sake,
but I cannot turn towards you and show you my face, Abba Zosimas.
For I am a woman and naked as you see
with the uncovered shame of my body.
But if you would like to fulfil one wish of a sinful woman, throw me your cloak so that I can cover my body and can turn to you and ask for your blessing
“.

Here terror seized Zosimas, for he heard that she called him by name.
But he realized that she could not have done so
without knowing anything of him
if she had not had the power of spiritual insight.

He at once did as he was asked.
He took off his old, tattered cloak and threw it to her,
turning away as he did so.
She picked it up and was able to cover at least a part of her body.
The she turned to Zosimas and said:

Why did you wish, Abba Zosimas, to see a sinful woman?
What do you wish to hear or learn from me,
you who have not shrunk from such great struggles?

Zosimas threw himself on the ground and asked for her blessing.
She likewise bowed down before him.
And thus they lay on the ground prostrate asking for each other’s blessing.
And one word alone could be heard from both:
Bless me!“.
After a long while the woman said to Zosimas:

Abba Zosimas, it is you who must give blessing and pray.
You are dignified by the order of priesthood
and for many years you have been standing
before the Holy altar and offering the Sacrifice of the Divine Mysteries
“.

This flung Zosimas into even greater terror. At length with tears he said to her:

O mother, filled with the spirit, by your mode of life
it is evident that you live with God and have died to the world.
The Grace granted to you is apparent
—> for you have called me by name and recognized that I am a priest,
though you have never seen me before.
Grace is recognized not by one’s orders, but by Gifts of the Holy Spirit,
so give me your blessing for God’s sake, for I need your prayers
“.

Then giving way before the wish of the elder the woman said:

Blessed is God Who cares for the Salvation of men and their souls“.

Zosimas answered:

Amen“.

And both rose to their feet. Then the woman asked the elder:

Why have you come, man of God, to me who am so sinful?
Why do you wish to see a woman naked an devoid of every virtue?
Though I know one thing —> the Grace of the Holy Spirit
has brought you to render me a service in time.
Tell me, father, how are the Christian peoples living?
And the kings? How is the Church guided?”.

Zosimas said:

By your prayers, mother, Christ has granted lasting peace to all.
But fulfil the unworthy petition of an old man
and pray for the whole world and for me who am a sinner,
so that my wanderings in the desert may not be fruitless
“.

She answered:

You who are a priest, Abba Zosimas,
it is you who must pray for me and for all —> for this is your calling.
But as we must all be obedient, I will gladly do what you ask
“.

And with these words she turned to the East,
and raising her eyes to Heaven and stretching out her hands,
she began to pray in a whisper.
One could not hear separate words, so that Zosimas could not understand
anything that she said in her prayers.
Meanwhile he stood, according to his own word, all in a flutter,
looking at the ground without saying a word.
And he swore, calling God to witness,
that when at length he thought that her prayer was very long,
he took his eyes off the ground and saw
that she was raised about a forearm’s distance from the ground
and stood praying in the air.
When he saw this, even greater terror seized him
and he fell on the ground weeping and repeating may times,
Lord have mercy“.

And whilst lying prostrate on the ground he was tempted by a thought:
Is it not a spirit, and perhaps her prayer is hypocrisy.

But at the very same moment the woman turned round,
raised the elder from the ground and said:
Why do thought confuse you, Abba, and tempt you about me,
as if I were a spirit and a dissembler in prayer?
Know, Holy father, that I am only a sinful woman,
though I am guarded by Holy baptism.
And I am no spirit but earth and ashes, and flesh alone“.

And with these words she guarded herself with the sign of the Cross
on her forehead, eyes, mouth and breast, saying:
May God defend us from the evil one and from his designs,
for fierce is his struggle against us“.

Hearing and seeing this, the elder fell to the ground
and embracing her feet, he said with tears:
I beg you, by the Name of Christ our God,
Who was born of a Virgin,
for Whose sake you have stripped yourself,
for Whose sake you have exhausted your flesh,
do not hide from your slave,
who you are and whence and how you came
into this desert.
Tell me everything so that
the marvellous works of God may become known.
A hidden wisdom and a secret treasure
—> what profit is there in them?
Tell me all, I implore you.
For not out of vanity or for self-display will you speak
but to reveal the truth to me, an unworthy sinner.
I believe in God, for whom you live and whom you serve.
I believe that He led me into this desert so as to show me His ways in regard to you.
It is not in our power to resist the plans of God.
If it were not the will of God that you and your life would be known,
He would not have allowed be to see you
and would not have strengthened me to undertake this journey,
one like me who never before dared to leave his cell“.

Much more said Abba Zosimas. But the woman raised him and said:
I am ashamed, Abba, to speak to you of my disgraceful life, forgive me for God’s sake!
But as you have already seen my naked body I shall likewise lay bare before you my work, so that you may know with what shame and obscenity my soul is filled.
I was not running away out of vanity, as you thought,
for what have I to be proud of —> I who was the chosen vessel of the devil?
But when I start my story you will run from me,
as from a snake, for your ears will not be able to bear the vileness of my actions.
But I shall tell you all without hiding anything,
only imploring you first of all to pray incessantly for me,
so that I may find Mercy on the day of Judgment“.

The elder wept and the woman began her Story:
My native land, holy father, was Egypt.
Already during the lifetime of my parents, when I was twelve years old,
I renounced their love and went to Alexandria.
I am ashamed to recall how there I at first ruined my maidenhood
and then unrestrainedly and insatiably gave myself up to sensuality.
It is more becoming to speak of this briefly,
so that you may just know my passion and my lechery.
For about seventeen years, forgive me, I lived like that.
I was like a fire of public debauch.
And it was not for the sake of gain —> here I speak the pure truth.
Often when they wished to pay me, I refused the money.
I acted in this way so as to make as many men as possible to try to obtain me,
doing free of charge what gave me pleasure.
Do not think that I was rich and that was the reason why I did not take money.
I lived by begging, often by spinning flax,
but I had an insatiable desire and an irrepressible passion for lying in filth.
This was life to me. Every kind of abuse of nature I regarded as life.
That is how I lived.
Then one summer I saw a large crowd of Libyans and Egyptians running towards the sea. I asked one of them, ‘Where are these men hurrying to?’
He replied, ‘They are all going to Jerusalem
for the Exaltation of the Precious and Lifegiving Cross,
which takes place in a few days’.
I said to him, ‘Will they take me with them if I wish to go?’
‘No one will hinder you if you have money to pay for the journey and for food’.
And I said to him, ‘To tell you truth, I have no money, neither have I food.
But I shall go with them and shall go aboard.
And they shall feed me, whether they want to or not.
I have a body —> they shall take it instead of pay for the journey’.
I was suddenly filled with a desire to go, Abba,
to have more lovers who could satisfy my passion.
I told you, Abba Zosimas, not to force me to tell you of my disgrace.
God is my witness, I am afraid of defiling you and the very air with my words“.
Zosimas, weeping, replied to her:
Speak on for God’s sake, mother,
speak and do not break the thread of such an edifying tale“.

And, resuming her story, she went on:
That youth, on hearing my shameless words, laughed and went off.
While I, throwing away my spinning wheel,
ran off towards the sea in the direction which everyone seemed to be taking.
and seeing some young men standing on the shore, about ten or more of them,
full of vigour and alert in their movements,
I decided that they would do for my purpose
[it seemed that some of them were waiting for more travellers
whilst others had gone ashore].
Shamelessly, as usual, I mixed with the crowd, saying,
‘Take me with you to the place you are going to;
you will not find me superfluous’.
I also added a few more words calling forth general laughter.
Seeing my readiness to be shameless, they readily took me aboard the boat.
Those who were expected came also, and we set sail at once.

How shall I relate to you what happened after this?
Whose tongue can tell,
whose ears can take in all that took place on the boat during that voyage!
And to all this I frequently forced those miserable youths even against their own will.
There is no mentionable or unmentionable depravity of which I was not their teacher.
I am amazed, Abba, how the sea stood our licentiousness,
how the earth did not open its jaws, and how it was that hell did not swallow me alive,
when I had entangled in my net so many souls.
But I think God was seeking my repentance.
For He does not desire the death of a sinner
but magnanimously awaits his return to Him.
At last we arrived in Jerusalem.
I spent the days before the festival in the town,
living the save kind of life, perhaps even worse.
I was not content with the youths I had seduced at sea
and who had helped be to get to Jerusalem;
many others — citizens of the town and foreigners — I also seduced.

The holy day of the Exaltation of the Cross dawned
while I was still flying about — hunting for youths.
At daybreak I saw that everyone was hurrying to the church,
so I ran with the rest.
When the hour for the Holy Elevation approached,
I was trying to make my way in with the crowd
which was struggling to get through the church doors.
I ad at last squeezed through with great difficulty
almost to the entrance of the temple, from which the life-giving Tree of the Cross
was being shown to the people.
But when I trod on the doorstep which everyone passed, I was stopped by some force which prevented by entering.
Meanwhile I was brushed aside by the crowd
and found myself standing alone in the porch.
Thinking that this had happened because of my woman’s weakness,
I again began to work my way into the crowd,
trying to elbow myself forward.
But in vain I struggled.
Again my feet trod on the doorstep over which others were entering the church without encountering any obstacle.
I alone seemed to remain unaccepted by the church.
It was as if there was a detachment of soldiers standing there to oppose my entrance.
Once again I was excluded by the same mighty force and again I stood in the porch.

Having repeated my attempt three or four times,
at last I felt exhausted and had no more strength to push and to be puched,
so I went aside and stood in a corner of the porch.
And only then with great difficulty it began to dawn on me,
and I began to understand the reason
why I was prevented from being admitted to see the life-giving Cross.
The word of Salvation gently touched the eyes of my heart and revealed to me that
it was my unclean life which barred the entrance to me.
I began to weep and lament and beat my breast, and to sigh from the depths of my heart.
And so I stood weeping when I saw above me the icon of the most holy Mother of God.
And turning to Her my bodily and spiritual eyes I said:

‘O Lady, Mother of God, Who gave birth in the flesh to God the Word,
I know, O how well I know, that it is no honour or praise to You
when one so impure and depraved as I look up to Your icon, O ever-virgin,
Who didst keep Your body and soul in purity.
rightly do I inspire hatred and disgust before Your virginal purity.
But I have heard that God Who was born of You became man
on purpose to call sinners to repentance.
Then help me, for I have no other help.
Order the entrance of the church to be opened to me.
Allow me to see the venerable Tree on which He Who was born of You
suffered in the flesh and on which He shed His holy Blood
for the redemption of sinners an for me, unworthy as I am.
Be my faithful witness before Your Son
that I will never again defile my body by the impurity of fornication,
but as soon as I have seen the Tree of the Cross
I will renounce the world and its temptations
and will go wherever You wilt lead me’.

Thus I spoke and as if acquiring some hope in firm faith
and feeling some confidence in the Mercy of the Mother of God,
I left the place where I stood praying.
And I went again and mingled with the crowd
that was pushing its way into the temple.
And no one seemed to thwart me, no one hindered my entering the church.
I was possessed with trembling, and was almost in delirium.
Having got as far as the doors which I could not reach before
— as if the same force which had hindered me cleared the way for me —
I now entered without difficulty and found myself within the holy place.
And so it was I saw the life-giving Cross.
I saw too the Mysteries of God and how the Lord accepts repentance.
Throwing myself on the ground, I worshipped that holy earth and kissed it with trembling.
The I came out of the church and went to her who had promised to be my security,
to the place where I had sealed my vow.
And bending my knees before the Virgin Mother of God,
I addressed to her such words as these:

‘O loving Lady, You have shown me Your great love for all men.
Glory to God Who receives the repentance of sinners through You.
What more can I recollect or say, I who am so sinful?
It is time for me, O Lady to fulfil my vow, according to Your witness.
Now lead me by the hand along the path of repentance!’
And at these words I heard a voice from on high:

‘If you cross the Jordan you will find glorious rest’. Hearing this voice and having faith that it was for me, I cried to the Mother of God:
‘O Lady, Lady, do not forsake me!’
With these words I left the porch of the church and set off on my journey.|As I was leaving the church a stranger glanced at me and gave me three coins, saying:
‘Sister, take these’.
And, taking the money,
I bought three loaves and took them with me on my journey, as a blessed gift.
I asked the person who sold the bread: ‘Which is the way to the Jordan?’
I was directed to the city gate which led that way.
Running on I passed the gates and still weeping went on my journey.
Those I met I asked the way, and after walking for the rest of that day
[I think it was nine o’clock when I saw the Cross]
I at length reached at sunset the Church of Saint John the Baptist
which stood on the banks of the Jordan.
After praying in the temple, I went down to the Jordan and rinsed my face and hands in its holy waters.
I partook of the holy and life-giving Mysteries in the Church of the Forerunner and ate half of one of my loaves.
Then, after drinking some water from Jordan, I lay down and passed the night on the ground.          In the morning I found a small boat and crossed to the opposite bank.
I again prayed to Our Lady to lead me whither she wished.
Then I found myself in this desert and since then up to this very day
I am estranged from all, keeping away from people
and running away from everyone.
And I live here clinging to my God Who saves all|
who turn to Him from faintheartedness and storms“.

Zosimas asked her:
How many years have gone by since you began to live in this desert?“.

She replied:
Forty-seven years have already gone by, I think, since I left the holy city“.

Zosimas asked:
But what food do you find?“.

The woman said:
I had two and a half loaves when I crossed the Jordan.
Soon they dried up and became hard as rock.
Eating a little I gradually finished them after a few years“.

Zosimas asked.
Can it be that without getting ill you have lived so many years thus,
without suffering in any way from such a complete change?“.

The woman answered:
You remind me, Zosimas, of what I dare not speak of.
For when I recall all the dangers which I overcame
and all the violent thoughts which confused me,
I am again afraid that they will take possession of me“.

Zosimas said:
Do not hide from me anything;speak to me without concealing anything“.

And she said to him:
Believe me, Abba, seventeen years I passed in this desert fighting wild beasts
—> mad desires and passions.
When I was about to partake of food,
I used to begin to regret the meat and fish which of which I had so much in Egypt.
I regretted also not having wine which I loved so much.
for I drank a lot of wine when I lived in the world, while here I had not even water.
I used to burn and succumb with thirst.
The mad desire for profligate songs also entered me and confused me greatly,
edging me on to sing satanic songs which I had learned once.
But when such desires entered me I struck myself on the breast
and reminded myself of the vow which I had made, when going into the desert.
In my thoughts I returned to the icon of the Mother of God which had received me
and to her I cried in prayer.
I implored her to chase away the thoughts to which my miserable soul was succumbing.
And after weeping for long and beating my breast I used to see light at last
which seemed to shine on me from everywhere.
And after the violent storm, lasting calm descended.

And how can I tell you about the thoughts which urged me on to fornication,
how can I express them to you, Abba?
A fire was kindled in my miserable heart
which seemed to burn me up completely
and to awake in me a thirst for embraces.
As soon as this craving came to me,
I flung myself on the earth and watered it with my tears,
as if I saw before me my witness, who had appeared to me in my disobedience
and who seemed to threaten punishment for the crime.
And I did not rise from the ground
[sometimes I lay thus prostrate for a day and a night]
until a calm and sweet light descended and enlightened me
and chased away the thoughts that possessed me.
But always I turned to the eyes of my mind to my Protectress,
asking Her to extend help to one who was sinking fast in the waves of the desert.
And I always had her as my Helper and the Accepter of my repentance.
And thus I lived for seventeen years amid constant dangers.
And since then even till now the Mother of God helps me in everything
and leads me as it were by the hand
“.

Zosimas asked:
Can it be that you did not need food and clothing?“.

She answered:
|”After finishing the loaves I had, of which I spoke, for seventeen years I have fed on herbs and all that can be found in the desert.
The clothes I had when I crossed the Jordan became torn and worn out.
I suffered greatly from the cold and greatly from the extreme heat.
At times the sun burned me up and at other times I shivered from the frost and frequently falling to the ground I lay without breath and without motion.
I struggled with many afflictions and with terrible temptations.
But from that time till now the Power of God in numerous ways
had guarded my sinful soul and my humble body.
When I only reflect on the evils from which Our Lord has delivered me
I have imperishable food for hope of Salvation.
I am fed and clothed by the all-Powerful Word of God, the Lord of all.
For it is not by bread alone that man lives.
And those who have stripped off the rags of sin have no refuge,
hiding themselves in the clefts of the rocks [Job 24; Hebr.11: 38]”.

Hearing that she cited words Scripture, from Moses and Job,
Zosimas asked her:
And so you have read the Psalms and other books?“.
She smiled at this and said to the elder:
Believe me,
I have not seen a human face
ever since I crossed the Jordan,
except yours today.
I have not seen a beast or a living being ever since I came into the desert.
I never learned from books.
I have never even heard anyone who sang and read from them.
But the word of God which is alive and active,
by itself teaches a man knowledge.
And so this is the end of my tale.
But, as I asked you in the beginning,
so even now I implore you for the sake of the Incarnate word of God,
to pray to the Lord for me who am such a sinner“.

Thus concluding here tale she bowed down before him.
And with tears the elder exclaimed:
Blessed is God Who creates the Great and Wondrous, the Glorious and Marvellous without end.
Blessed is God Who has shown me
how He rewards those who fear Him.
Truly, O Lord, You did not forsake
those who seek You!”.

And the woman,
not allowing the elder to bow down before her, said:
I beg you, holy father, for the sake of Jesus Christ our God and Saviour,
tell no one what you have heard, until God delivers me of this earth.
And how depart in peace and again next year you shall see me, and I you,
if God will preserve us in His great Mercy.
But for God’s sake, do as I ask you.
Next year during Lent do not cross the Jordan,
as is your custom in the monastery“.

Zosimas was amazed to hear
that she know the rules of the monastery
and could only say:
Glory to God Who bestows great Gifts on those who love Him“.

She continued:
Remain, Abba, in the monastery.
And even if you wish to depart, you will not be to do so.
And at sunset of the Holy day of the Last super,
put some of the life-giving Body and Blood of Christ into a holy vessel
worthy to hold such Mysteries for me, and bring it.
And wait for me on the banks of the Jordan
adjoining the inhabited parts of the land,
so that I can come and partake of the life-giving Gifts.
For, since the time I communicated in the temple of the Forerunner
before crossing the Jordan even to this day
I have not approached the Holy Mysteries.
And I thirst for them with irrepressible love and longing.
And therefore I ask and implore you to grant me my wish,
bring me the life-giving Mysteries at the very hour
when Our Lord made His disciples partake of His Divine Supper.
Tell John the Abbot of the monastery where you live.
Look to yourself and to your brothers,
for there is much that needs correction.
Only do not say this now,
but when God guides you.
Pray for me!”.

With these words she vanished in the depths of the desert.
And Zosimas, falling down on his knees and bowing down to the ground
on which she had stood, sent up glory and thanks to God.
And, after wandering through the desert,
he returned to the monastery on the day all the brothers returned.

For the whole year he kept silent, not daring to tell anyone of what he had seen.
But in his should he pray to God to give him another chance of seeing the ascetic’s dear face.
And when at length the first Sunday of the Great Fast came,
all went out into the desert with the customary prayers
and the singing of Psalms.
Only Zosimas was held back by illness — he lay in a fever.
And then he remembered what the saint had said to him:
And even if you wish to depart,
you will not be able to do so
“.

Many days passed and at last recovering from his illness he remained in the monastery.
And when attain the monks returned and the day of the Last Supper dawned,
he did as he had been ordered. and placing some of the most pure Body and Blood
into a small chalice and putting
some gifts and dates and lentils soaked in water into a small basket,
he departed for the desert and reached the banks of the Jordan
and sat down to wait for the Saint.
He waited for a long while and then began to doubt.
Then raising his eyes to heaven, he began to pray:

Grant me O Lord, to behold that which You has allowed be to behold once.
Do not let me depart in vain, being the burden of my sins
“.

And then another thought struck him:
And what is she does come?
There is no boat; how will she cross the Jordan
to come to me who am so unworthy?”.

And as he was pondering thus he saw the holy woman appear
and stand on the other side of the river.
Zosimas got up rejoicing and glorifying and thanking God.
And again the thought came to him that she could not cross the Jordan.
Then he saw that she made the sign of the Cross over
the waters of the Jordan
[and the night was a moonlight one, as he related afterwards]
and then she at once stepped on to the waters
and began walking across the surface towards him.
And when he wanted to prostrate himself,
she cried to him while still walking on the water:
What are you doing, Abba, you are a priest
and carrying the Divine Gifts!
“.
He obeyed her and on reaching the shore she said to the elder:
Bless, father, bless me!“.
He answered her trembling,
for a state of confusion had overcome him at the sight of the miracle:
Truly God did not lie when He promised that
when we purify ourselves we shall be like Him.
Glory to You, Christ our God,
Who has shown me through this Your slave
how far away I stand from perfection“.

Here the woman asked him to say the Creed and our Father.
He began, she finished the prayer and according to the custom of that time
gave him the kiss of Peace on the lips.
Having partaken of the Holy Mysteries,
she raised her hands to Heaven
and sighed with tears in her eyes, exclaiming:
Now let You Your servant depart in Peace, O Lord,
according to Your word;
for my eyes have seen Your Salvation“.

Then she said to the elder:
Forgive me, Abba, for asking you, but fulfil another wish of mine.
Go now to the monastery and let God’s Grace guard you. And next year come again to the same place where I first met you. Come for God’s sake, for you shall again see me, for such is the will of God“.

He said to her:
From this day on I would like to follow you
and always see your holy face.
But now fulfil the one and only wish of an old man
and take a little of the food I have brought for you“.

And he showed her the basket,
while she just touched the lentils with the tips of her fingers
and taking three grains said that the Holy spirit guards
the substance of the soul unpolluted.
Then she said:

Pray, for God’s sake pray for me
and remember a miserable wretch
“.

Touching the Saint’s feet and asking for her prayers for the Church,
the kingdom and himself, he let her depart with tears,
while he went off sighing and sorrowful,
for he could not hope to vanquish the invincible.
Meanwhile she again made the sign of the Cross over the Jordan
and stepped on to the waters and crossed over as before.
And the elder returned filled with joy and terror,
accusing himself of not having asked the saint her name.
But he decided to do so next year.

And when another year had passed, he again went into the desert.
He reached the same spot but could see no sign of anyone.
So raising his eyes to heaven as before, he prayed:
Show me, O Lord, Your pure treasure,
which You have concealed in the desert.
Show me, I pray You, the angel in the flesh,
of which the world is not worthy“.

Then on the opposite bank of the river,
her face turned towards the rising sun,
he saw the saint lying dead.
Her hands were crossed according to custom
and her face was turned to the East.
Running up he shed tears over the saint’s feet
and kissed them, not daring to touch anything else.

For a long time he wept.
Then reciting the appointed Psalms,
he said the burial prayers and thought to himself:
“Must I bury the body of a Saint?
Or will this be contrary to her wishes?”
And then he saw words traced on the ground by her head:
Abba Zosimas, bury on this spot the body of humble Mary.
Return to dust that which is dust and pray to the Lord for me,
who departed in the month of Fermoutin of Egypt,
called April by the Romans, on the first day, on the very night of our Lord’s Passion,
after having partaken of the Divine Mysteries“.
[Saint Mary died in 522 A. D.]

Reading this the elder was glad to know the Saint’s name.
He understood too that as soon as she had partaken of the Divine Mysteries
on the shore of the Jordan she was at once transported to the place where she died.
The distance which Zosimas had taken twenty days to cover,
Mary had evidently traversed in an hour
and had at once surrendered her soul to God.
Then Zosimas thought:
It is time to do as she wished.
But how am I to dig a grave with nothing in my hands?“.

And then he saw nearby a small piece of wood left by some traveller in the desert.
Picking it up he began to dig the ground.
But the earth was hard and dry and did not yield to the efforts of the elder.
He grew tired and covered with sweat.
He sighed from the depths of his soul
and lifting up his eyes he saw a big lion
standing close to the saint’s body and licking her feet.
At the sight of the lion he trembled with fear,
especially when he called to mind Mary’s words
that she had never seen wild beasts in the desert.
But guarding himself with the sign of the Cross,
the thought came to him that the Power of the one lying there would protect him and keep him unharmed.
Meanwhile the lion drew nearer to him, expressing affection by every movement.

Zosimas said to the lion:
The Great One ordered that her body was to be buried.
But I am old and have not the strength to dig the grave
[for I have no spade and it would take too long to go and get one],
so can you carry out the work with your claws?
Then we can commit to the earth the mortal temple of the Saint“.
While he was still speaking
the lion with his front paws began to dig
a hole deep enough to bury the body.

Again the elder washed the feet of the saint with his tears and calling on her to pray for all, covered the body with earth in
the presence of the lion.
It was as it had been, naked and uncovered by anything but the tattered cloak which had been given to her by Zosimas
and with which Mary, turning away, had managed to cover part of her body.
Then both departed.
The lion went off into the depth of the desert like a lamb,
while Zosimas returned to the monastery glorifying and blessing Christ our Lord.
And on reaching the monastery he told all the brothers about everything
and all marvelled on hearing of God’s Miracles.
And with fear and love they kept the memory of the Saint.

Abbot John, as Saint Mary had previously told Abba Zosimas,
found a number of things wrong in the monastery and got rid of them with God’s help.
And Saint Zosimas died in the same monastery,
almost attaining the age of a hundred and passed to eternal life.
The monks kept this story without writing it down
and passed it on by word of mouth to one another.

But I [adds Saint Sophronius of Jerusalem] as soon as I heard it, wrote it down.
Perhaps someone else, better informed, has already written the life of the Saint,
but as far as I could, I have recorded everything, putting truth above all else.
May God Who works amazing Miracles and generously bestows Gifts
on those who turn to Him with faith, reward those
who seek Light for themselves in this story,
who hear, read and are zealous to write it,
and may He grant them the lot of blessed Mary
together with all who at different times have pleased God
by their pious thoughts and labours.

And let us also give Glory to God, the eternal King,
that He may grant us too His mercy in the day of Judgment
for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord, to Whom belongs
all Glory, Honour, Dominion and Adoration
with the Eternal Father and the Most Holy and Life-giving Spirit,
now and always, and thought all ages.
Amen.

Apolytikion       Tn 8
“In you the image was preserved with exactness, O Mother;
for taking up your cross, you did follow Christ,
and by your deeds you did teach us to overlook the flesh,
for it passes away, but to attend to the soul since it is immortal.
Wherefore, O righteous Mary,
your spirit rejoices with the Angels”.
Mp3 » Apolyticion Saint Mary of Egypt

Kontakion          Tn 4
Having escaped the gloom of sin, O blest Mary,
and shining brightly with the light of repentance,
You did present your heart to Christ, O glorious one,
bringing Him His Holy and all-immaculate Mother
as a greatly merciful and most bold intercessor.
Hence, You have found the pardon of your sins
and with the Angles rejoice for evermore
“.

The End and Glory Be to God!
Mp3 [english] »
Doxastikon – 5th Sunday of Lent; Mary of Egypt

Cf. The Great Canon,
the Work of Saint Andrew of Crete
,
Internet Medieval Source Book,
a collection of public domain,
copy-permitted and electronically
available texts related
to Medieval and Byzantine History

Psalms created on Truth – Orthodoxy & her Psalterion

Introduction
The Psalms are among the most hauntingly beautiful songs and prayers that this world possesses; they are poems whose appeal is permanent and universal.
As an anthology of 150 gems the Psalter is
a work of consummate art,
a thing of beauty which is a joy for ever;
its loveliness increases.
The most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express that same delight in God
which made David dance“,
said the late C. S. Lewis.

The Bible is a presentation of the Divine Drama in which we are all taking part.
The theme of the Drama is
the great acts and interventions of God,
past, present and future.
The Psalms are a distillation of the Old Testament and especially of the teaching
of the Hebrew Prophets.
They sum up
the whole Theology of the Old Testament.
They are the quintessence of the faith and devotion of Israel.
Yet they express the feelings and reactions
not only of one nation but of all mankind.
They reflect timelessly the universal hopes and fears, love and hate, joys and sorrows
of the human heart.
Individually they are the outcome of someone’s personal experience, though not perhaps all of them.
They reveal the varying moods of the human spirit from awestruck wonder at God’s mighty acts and the marvels of creation to groping perplexity at the apparent prosperity
of selfish scoundrels, from calm trust and deep certainty to cries of frustration
and desperation bordering on despair.
In these ancient poems we see the fundamental unity of mankind
and of the Old and New Testaments.
The unity is that of Promise and Fulfilment.

If the relic of a Saint or loved one is dear to us,
how much more precious is everything
connected with Jesus Christ, the Lord of Life.
The Psalter was both His Prayer Book and Song Book.
While dying on the Cross,
the only portion of Holy Scripture
that Christ quoted was the Psalter.
Of His seven last words, four of them are echoes from the Book of Psalms:
My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
[Psalm 21: 2; Matth.27:46; Marc.15: 34];
I thirst” [John.19: 28; Psalm 41: 2; 62: 2; 142: 6];
It is done, accomplished, finished” [Psalm 21: 32; John.19: 30];
“Into Your hands I entrust My spirit” [Psalm 30: 6; Luc.23: 46].

Fullness and Fulfilment
We only realize the full significance of the Psalms
as we read them in Christ, the Truth,
through His eyes, and in His Spirit.
Faith is vision. Unbelief is blindness.
If the Good News is veiled,
it is veiled only to those
who have lost their way.
When the Old Testament is read,
a veil lies over their minds.
Only in Christ is the veil removed.
The minds of unbelievers are so blinded by the god of this world
that the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ
cannot dawn upon them.
God Who told light to shine out of darkness
has shone in our hearts with the light of the knowledge
of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ [2Cor.4-6].
So let all Israel know for certain
that God has made Jesus Whom you crucified
both Lord and Messiah [Acts 2: 36].

Israel failed to respond to the Divine call
and commission to give God’s light and love to the world.
The vine lifted out of Egypt (Psalm.79: 9; Matth.2: 15) is Jesus; the True Vine [John.15].
As the true Israel He fulfils Israel’s mission,
so that from the Cross and Resurrection
the New and True Israel is the community of those
whose hearts receive by faith the Divine Word spoken in Him [Hebr.1: 2].
His life is offered that it may flow in our veins as the Blood of the New Covenant,
the fruit of the vine [Marc.14: 24],
the love that conquers death [1 Cor.15: 54-57].
When the risen Lord walked and talked
with Lucas and Cleophas:
He began with Moses and all the Prophets
and explained to them the passages
which referred to Himself in every part of the Scriptures
“.
And at Emmaus He added,
This is what I meant when I said, while I was still with you, that everything written about Me in the law of Moses
and in the Prophets and Psalms was bound to be fulfilled

Luc.24: 27, 44

The songs of Israel find their full meaning only in the New Adam.
The Psalmist’s voice is his Master’s voice.
It was the Spirit of Christ in the Prophets foretelling the sufferings in store for Christ and the Glories that would follow.
And it was revealed to them
that it was not for themselves
but for you that they were administering those very Mysteries,
Which have now been announced to you through those who preached the Gospel
to you in the Power of the Holy Spirit [1Petr.1: 11].
Christ’s Birth, Sufferings and Death,
His triumphant Resurrection and Ascension, and His coming in Judgment,
are all clearly portrayed in the Psalms,
not merely as historical events but as perpetual and saving realities.
The eternal Spirit transforms history into Theology.
Saint Athanasius the Great says that the line of the Psalmist,
Open your mouth wide
and I will fill it
[80: 11] refers
to receiving the Gift of the Holy Spirit
“.
The outpouring of the Spirit is the fulfilment of the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms.

Correspondence and Recapitulation
The Christian Church accepted the
Old Testament as sacred Scriptures.
The Apostles and Christian preachers and teachers cited passages of the Old Testament
as Prophecies of the events of the Gospel.
They also saw correspondences between things and events under the Old and New Covenants.
The Exodus from Egypt and the giving of the Law and the Covenant have their counterpart in the redemption of mankind through the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the giving of the New Covenant in His blood [1Cor.11: 25]
and the new commandment which fulfils the Law [John.13: 34; Gal.5: 14; Rom.13: 10].
The temple at Jerusalem has its counterpart in the temple of the Church
composed of living stones [Eph.2: 20-22; 1Petr.2: 5].
The Heavenly Manna has its counterpart in
Jesus as the heavenly bread of life [John.6: 32-58].
The Creation of the earthly man has its counterpart
in the New Creation born in the death and Resurrection
of the Heavenly Man Who is the Lord from Heaven
[John.12: 24; 1Cor.15: 47-49; 2Cor.5: 17].
Adam, the head of a sinful race of mortals,
has his counterpart in Christ, the second Adam, the New Man,
the head of a race of immortals [1Cor.15: 45-49].
In all these ways the New Covenant recapitulates the Old Covenant.

Similarly Christ was seen to be both [High-]Priest and Victim [Hebr. 8: 1 – 9: 15].
He is the Sacrificial Lamb and also the Victorious King [John.1: 36; 18: 37].
He is the Good Shepherd and also the Lion of the tribe of Judah [Psalm. 22; John.10: 11; Rev.5: 5].
He is the Son of Man foreseen by the Prophet Daniel [7: 13,14] destined to receive an eternal Kingdom
and also the Son of God foreseen by the Prophet David [Psalm 2] destined to reign over all Creation.
Jesus fulfils the role of Israel by attaining
the Triumph of His kingdom and Exaltation through Humiliation and Obedience to the point of death [Marc.14: 21; Hebr.2: 5-9; Isaiah 53].

The Church also understood that Jesus was the Word
(John.1: 14; 1John.1: 1; Rev.19: 13].
He was Himself the utterance of God’s Love and Grace,
Light and Truth in the world.
The utterances of the Old Testament had been
partial, incomplete, fragmentary, preparatory, Prophetic.
In Jesus we have the fullness and finality of the Divine utterance.
Jesus embodies the Divine utterance both in His teaching and in Himself.
The Word and the Person are completely identical.
The Word Who became flesh [John.1: 14] was in origin and originally God [John.1: 1),
ever at work with the Father and the Spirit in the creation of the world [John.5: 17],
ever giving life and light to men and angels [John.1: 9].
And so we see that the Word is a Person.
Life is not something but Someone [Gal.2: 20; Phil.1: 21].
The whole pageant of the past is recapitulated
in the Gracious Personality of Jesus the Messiah.
He recapitulates in His Person the whole destiny of mankind [Eph.1: 10].
God has predestined men to become
conformed to the image of His Son [Rom.8: 29].

The Church and the Bible
Under both Old and New Covenants the Church preceded the Bible.
The essential role of the Church, as of the individual Christian,
is to bear witness to experience, to what has been seen and heard
[Acts 1: 8; 4: 20; 22: 15].
Man’s vocation and destiny are supernatural
[Hebr.3: 1; Rom.8: 29; 2Tim.1: 9; 1Cor.1: 2].
Scripture is a communication of Divine Light
to guide us in the way of perfection [Matth.5: 48].
To know Christ (Truth) is to love Him and be free [1John.4].
So a supernatural Revelation of God’s Nature, Will and Purpose is essential.
Such is the Word of God contained in the Bible.
It is a love-letter written by our Heavenly Father
and transmitted by the sacred writers to the human race
on our pilgrimage towards our Heavenly country [Saint John Chrysostomos].
Readers of the Bible have the Church to guide them.
No Prophecy of Scripture is a matter of private interpretation,
nor can it be understood by one’s own powers.
For no Prophecy ever originated in the human will,
but Holy men of God spoke as they were prompted by the Holy Spirit [2Petr.1: 20].
It is the Church’s mission to interpret the Bible.
People who live humbly and honestly in the fellowship of the Church
have their minds conditioned
and attuned to understand the Scriptures
as the Revelation of the mind of God
[1Cor.2: 16; Phil.2: 5; 2Petr.3: 1]

The Nature of the Psalms
It would be a mistake to think that the Psalms
are a beautiful expression of nature Mysticism,
inspired by the natural beauty of the countryside
and the soothing sounds of softly murmuring streams.
They are rather the war-songs of the Prince of Peace,
the vigorous shouts and cries of the whole man,
responding or reacting with his whole being to the One Who comes to him in all the circumstances of life.
Jesus Himself tells us that we shall never see Him
until we say in every situation:
Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord” [Luc.13: 35].
In this matter of the Sanctification of the total man
made to love God with His whole nature
” [Luc.10: 27],
Israel was unlike the religions of the world.
The New Israel, the Church of Christ, inherits and continues this Tradition and
should develop it in an even more thoroughgoing manner.

The Jews prayed and worshipped with spirit, soul and body.
They beat their breasts, clapped their hands, stretched out their arms,
fell prostrate on the ground; they sang, they shouted, they danced;
they used drums, tambourines, cymbals, castanets, bells, horns, trumpets, pipes,
and various stringed instruments.
We find these features in the Psalms.
Saint Isaac the Syrian says:
Every prayer in which the body does not participate
and by which the heart is not affected
should be reckoned as an abortion without a soul
“.

Varieties of prayer are found in the Psalms:
Worship and Bowing Down, Love and Adoration, Meditation and Contemplation,
Stillness and Watching, Waiting and Listening, Hope and Desire,
Acts of Faith and Trust, Praise and Blessing,
Exaltation and Magnification, Repentance and Confession,
Weeping and Groaning, Exultation and Thanksgiving, Joy and Gladness,
Vows and Affirmations, Exorcism and Adjuration, Surrender and Submission,
Petition and Intercession.
We need to learn afresh the Christian use of the Psalter.
One reason for the neglect of the Psalms
in our devotional life is the disproportionate attention given
to critical and historical research in modern biblical study,
to the almost total exclusion of the Vital meaning
and Purpose of the Word of God.
To be ignorant of Scripture is not to know Christ“, says St. Jerome.

Practical Use of the Psalter
The Church never merely studied the Psalms.
They were her chief book of devotion.
Her divine Founder had quoted them,
had used them in prayer,
had explained them to His disciples,
and had died with them on His lips.
The Apostles ordered the faithful to use the Psalms both in their personal lives
and in community worship [Jac.5: 13; Col.3: 16; Eph.5: 19].
Saint Jerome tells us that at Saint Paula’s funeral in 404,
the Psalms were sung now in Greek, now in Latin, now in Syriac;
and this not only during the three days that elapsed before she was buried,
but throughout the rest of the week.
He also says that the Psalms sung in churches were also sung in the fields:
The toiling reaper sings Psalms as he works,
and the vine-grower, as he prunes his vines,
sings one of David’s songs. [so what are we doing during our daily work???]

At first the Psalter was the only hymnbook available.
Many both of the clergy and laity knew it by heart.
Saint Germanus in Constantinople and Saint Gregory in Rome
refused to consecrate as bishops men
who were unable to recite the Psalter.
A disused canon so ruled.
Even when the Church Services began to be compiled,
the Psalter was the Church’s first Service Book,
and it retains that position to this day.
All the services draw heavily upon the Psalms.
The Psalter is a quarry and treasury of Christian prayer and devotion.

Poetic Characteristics
The Psalms are poetry and this version retains the original poetic form
by printing the lines as in the Septuagint.
Much is lost when the Psalms are printed as prose.
Hebrew verse does not rhyme except occasionally and accidentally.
It is based on what is called parallelism, and is mostly in the form of couplets.
The second line of the couplet may be a repetition of the theme in different words,
or a contrast, or a heightened emphasis.
There is rhythm, but little metre.
Often there is a play on words, or assonance, or alliteration, or some figure of speech.
These are not reproducible in translation.
But the parallelism is clearly retained.
If the line endings occasionally rhyme,
that is quite incidental as in the original Hebrew.

It must not be thought that the parallelism of Hebrew poetry
merely means that the second line of every couplet
simply repeats the thought of the first line in different words.
Far from it. It may enrich or amplify the thought of the first line,
or it may modify it in other ways.
For example, the Prophet Isaiah writes [55: 7]:
Let the wicked forsake his ways and the sinful man his thoughts.
Or take the opening words of that wonderful outburst of praise
which the Holy Spirit put on Mary’s lips [Luc.1: 46]:
My soul magnifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour
“.
This does not mean that soul and spirit are therefore identical [cp. 1Thess.5: 23].
Rather it indicates that the second half of the couplet is a result of the first.
With my soul I magnify the Lord
[soul including understanding, intellect, memory, imagination, desire, will].
As a result of my growing consciousness and realization of the greatness
and goodness and glory of God,
my spirit is filled with joy and I exult in God my Saviour.
So the inspired lines are found to contain a simple technique
for the praise of God.

Divergences
Every new translation of the Psalter
has been made primarily for use in the Services
of the Orthodox Church.
It will be found to follow closely and often word for word previous versions made from the Hebrew.
It will also be found to differ widely in many places.
This is because the Orthodox Church
is committed to the Septuagint version of the Bible,
which was the Bible of the whole Christian Church
during the first thousand years of its existence.
It is also the version of the Bible that was used
and quoted by our Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostles, though they also occasionally referred to the Hebrew.
That is why it will be found that this version of the Psalms tallies in almost every instance
with the Psalms quoted in the New Testament whereas the Hebrew Psalms are often widely divergent.
For example, Psalm 4:5,
Be angry, yet do not sin, is quoted word for word by the Apostle Paul [Eph.4: 26].
The Hebrew gives quite a different reading.

If it is asked why the Septuagint often differs
so totally from the Massoretic text,
the answer probably is that Hebrew was a kind of shorthand,
entirely without vowels when the Psalms were written.
It is easy to see that a word like brd could be rendered
bread, bird, bard, brayed, broad, beard, bored, breed,
broody braid, bride, bred, buried.
It is not surprising that there are variant readings.
What is surprising is that the Septuagint
reproduces a vast amount of the Hebrew text almost verbatim,
so that we can often check the Massoretic.
Another reason for differences in the Septuagint
may be that the Seventy translators used a Hebrew version
that differed in many respects from the Massoretic text.

We cannot give footnotes to explain
how we arrive at every puzzling rendering of the Greek,
as it is not within our scope.
If we take a single instance, it will be seen
how lengthy and complicated such explanations could be.
In Psalm 101: 27, change them like clothing could be rendered,
roll them like clothing.
Actually there is a variant reading at this point,
some texts reading roll, others change.
As the thought suggested is
that of a person rolling or stripping off a worn-out garment,
we believe that the word change
faithfully conveys the sense of either Greek word
and also the meaning of the Hebrew original.
In fact, the idea of change and renewal and the rebirth of the soul
as a New Creation is a basic concept throughout Holy Scripture
[cp. John.3: 3-5; 2Cor.5: 17; Gal.6: 15; Eph.2: 10; 4: 24].

Songs with a Difference
The Psalms provide food for the fed up
and Heavenly bread in the wilderness.
But what about the stone-age ethics?
How does King Og aid
our Sanctification or help our prayer?
In some of the Psalms we seem to be thirsting not for God
but for our enemies’ blood.
Sometimes we seem to be howling war-cries with a tribe of savages.
How can we speak the Truth in love with Hebrew tribal’s
who even sink to sacrificing their sons and daughters to demons? [Psalm 105: 37]

 

The purpose of God’s written word of which the Psalms are a part is
to make known to men the saving Truths
that God has revealed to us about Himself in His eternal Being
and about His action in time and place and His plan for the new world order.
Christian Theology is essentially the knowledge of God
and His will revealed to man through God’s action in history, which is truly His story.
Orthodox Theology as a unity of knowledge
is a means to an end that transcends all knowledge.
This end is Union with God.
The Psalms sum up the whole Salvation history and theology of the Old Covenant.
The Lights and shadows of the total panorama are all here.

So the Psalms are unlike the sacred books of the world religions.
The Bible is the record of the life of a community
offered by the Church as divine revelation.
We see the living God in the movement of events.
It is not merely the history of a progressive revelation,
but history as Revelation.
The meaning of the events lies in man’s meeting with God.
The Prophet, like the Priest, is a public person.
His encounter with God is not merely private experience,
like that of the mystics and sages of the world religions.
The pressure of public events
is the normal occasion of the Prophet’s meeting with God.
The Truth which the encounter reveals to his mind is public property.
God’s Choice of the Prophet is not an act of favouritism,
but an invitation or call to special responsibility [cp. Amos 3: 2].
The word of God which gives the vital meaning to history always has a twofold action:
– it is the word of crisis and judgment,
– and it is the creative word of renewal and regeneration.
If anyone is in the Truth, there is a New Creation [cp. 2Cor.5: 17].
Judgment is followed by the New Heavens and New Earth [2Petr.3: 13]
and the Universal Restoration of all things  {Acts 3:21].
The Light that judges us, Transfigures and Saves us” [John.12: 47].
In Your Light we see light” [Psalm 35: 10].
The supreme message of the Psalter is that the Vision of God,
to know and love Him, to trust and obey Him;
and to offer Him the Sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving
is eternal life and happiness [John 6: 40; 17: 3; Luc.10: 25- 28; 1Petr.1: 8f].

The Divine Initiative
The Psalms are the Bible in miniature.
By a kind of Divine tom-tom
they drum into our consciousness the Truth
that we meet God in the world of persons, things and events.
Here and now we are to pass through the visible
and transient to the Invisible and True.
Yet the initiative always rests with God.
The word of God comes out of the everywhere into the here
and breaks into our life from beyond us.
The Bible is a record of God’s search for man.
The people of God are not those
who have a special bent or natural genius for religion.
Far from it.
All the saints would agree
that they had a natural bent for unbelief and waywardness,
but for the Grace of God. “We love because He first loved us” [1John 4: 19].
When we were still sinners Christ died for us [Rom.5: 8].
It was when we were sick and powerless to help ourselves . . . . . when we were enemies
that we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son
” [Rom.5: 6, 10].
His was the first Birth out of death [Col.1: 18].
Last but not least, the Psalms remind us of our response
to God’s love which means life from the dead.
It is the response of obedient love and loving obedience.
“I love You, O Lord, my Strength [Psalm 17: 1].

In the Psalms David speaks as if he were not going to die,
as if God would not leave him in hell or allow him to see corruption [15: 10].
Yet David died and his Kingdom vanished.
Now hear the Apostle Peter at Pentecost:
Men and brethren, I can speak freely to you about the Patriarch David:
he died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.
But being a Prophet, he foresaw and spoke of the Resurrection of Christ,
when he said that his soul would not be left in hell,
nor would his flesh see corruption.
This Jesus God raised to life
and we are all His witnesses
” [Acts 2: 29f].

The Psalms were the utterances of both David and Christ.
God Who spoke in David and Who became incarnate as the Son of David
was speaking of His own coming into visibility
as the Divine Messiah and of His plan of Salvation.
This plan is only fully revealed in its fulfilment,
when men are filled with the Holy Spirit of God.
The incarnation of the Word
as the visible image of the invisible God [Col.1: 15]
is the supreme demonstration of the Divine Initiative and Intervention.
It is the Climax of God’s search for man
and the discovery and redemption of the lost image
and likeness in the Saviour’s death and Resurrection.

The Messiah
A striking and mysterious figure looms larger and larger
and gradually takes shape, as we read and re-read the Psalms.
He is the Son of God, appointed King on Zion to rule the nations [Psalm 2].
He is addressed as God, His kingdom is to last for ever,
His Reign is gentle and just, yet strong as iron.
He is lovely with a Beauty beyond the sons of men
and because of His love of justice and goodness
He has a joy surpassing His fellow men [Psalm 44].
He is a King and Judge Who shares the Throne of God.
He is a Priest, not in the Levitical line,
but an Eternal Priest-King like Melchizedek [Psalm 109].
His reign will bring lasting Peace and Justice,
all kings and nations will worship Him,
He will take special care of the poor and destitute
and in Him all the families of the earth will be blessed [Psalm 71].
Yet this Sovereign Ruler of nations
Whom all mankind will worship will undergo terrible sufferings,
will be treated as an outcast, a worm
and not a man, will endure outrageous handling by men
who have become more like wild beasts: bulls, lions and dogs.
And they will strip Him and pierce His hands and feet
and will then stand and gloat over Him [Psalm 21].
Yet when He comes in Judgment to claim His Kingdom,
it will be a world-wide assembly, including rich and poor alike,
who will all worship Him and partake of
a sacrificial meal in His honour [Psalm 21, 93, 95].
Such is the King Messiah, portrayed especially in
5 Messianic Psalms: 2, 21, 44, 71 and 109.
They foretell the advent, Kingdom, Priesthood, sufferings, death,
Resurrection and Ascension of the coming Redeemer.
But different facets of the same Face and Person
are sprinkled throughout the Psalter
and we need them all to get the full Portrait.

Figures and Symbols
The Psalms foreshadow in figure and symbol,
the way of life and freedom
• fully revealed only in the New Adam
[Rom.5: 12f., 1Cor.15: 21f.],
the New Noah, father of the new race
• who rise from the baptismal waters [1Petr.3: 20f; 2Petr.2: 5],
• the Prophet like Moses [Deut.18: 15, 18; John 1: 21, 46; 6: 14, 32; Acts 3: 22].
• So He explains the miracle of the bronze serpent
which Moses fixed to a sign-post or standard
and which brought a change of heart [Num.21: 9]:
As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,
so must the Son of Man be lifted up,
that whoever believes in Him may not perish but have eternal life [John 3: 14].

But the crucial and decisive event of
the old Covenant history was the Exodus from Egypt,
which the Psalms mention so frequently.
Just as the Christian remembers and relives the Sacrifice of Christ
by the celebration of the Liturgy, so the Jew recalls and re-enacts the Exodus
by the celebration of the Passover.
This act of Worship is not just an escape from the present into the past,
but a means of actual experience.
The Passover ritual says:
In every generation it is a man’s duty to imagine
that he himself has escaped from Egypt” [cp. Ex.13: 8].

As Moses led the Hebrew slaves out of Egyptian bondage
through the Red Sea towards the Promised Land
and celebrated their escape or deliverance by the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb,
so Christ the True Lamb of God by His Sacrifice on the Cross
leads men through the red sea of His life-giving blood
out of the real slavery of sin
into the Glorious freedom of the Children of God,
Which is Heaven on earth or the Promised Land.
The Great theme of history is the conflict between belief and unbelief.
Human societies like human beings live by Faith
and die when Faith dies [Rom.1: 17; Jac.2: 20].
Faith is the light in which we see God.
As we grow in faith and love,
the Mystery and Unity of the Exodus
and Christ’s Passover becomes more and more
a matter of personal experience.
Yet the experience is not the essential reality,
but only an effect of the reality
which is infinitely beyond experience, namely God in us:
Christ in you [Col.1].

By faith in Christ [John 5: 24]
and by the New Birth [John 3: 3-5]
we enter a new dimension of life and become amphibians, living at once in time and eternity.
We are at the same time in the wilderness and in the Promised Land.
Our life is in Heaven [Phil.3: 20].
God has enthroned us with Christ in Heaven [Eph.2: 6].
The Songs of Zion will tell us again and again that by faith
we are Christ’s Body in this world [1Cor.12: 27]
and that He lives in us [Col.1: 27; 2: 6; Gal.2: 20].
– Be what you are! they keep saying.
– Be forgiven, be reconciled, be friends with God,
– be clean, be free, be filled with the Spirit,
– be whole, be Holy, be Children of God,
– be citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven! [Phil.3: 20].

Some Difficulties
Some people object to parts of the Psalms
because they seem to contradict
the Divine Law of Love taught by Christ.
But the Mystery of the Divine wrath and vengeance
reveals the total incompatibility of evil with the Divine Nature.
You who love the Lord, hate evil” [Psalm 96: 10; Rom.12: 9].
Judgment and vengeance belong to God and must be left to Him [Deut.32: 35].
God’s Judgment is His Appearance, Manifestation, Epiphany [Psalms 49: 1-4; 79: 2; 93: 1].
In its Fullness this appearing or manifestation refers to the Incarnation,
when Christ becomes the visible criterion in Whose Light we see light [Psalm 35: 10].
All the evil and malice of the world culminates in the Crucifixion of Christ.
When vengeance is left to God,
it takes the form of the agony and death of the God-man.
God takes His own medicine.
With Christ we are to hate the reign of evil, the vile spirits and passions
that prevent the reign of Christ in our hearts and in the world.
As we hate and forsake sin, we become free
to love and pray and labour for God’s Reign and Rule on earth.

Spiritual things must be spiritually understood.
People contrast spirit and letter.
But what letter is there in the Word of God
Who says Himself, My words are spirit and life? [John 6: 63].
Truly the letter kills [2Cor.3: 6].
To a literalist the message and meaning of the Bible
is bound to elude his most meticulous search.
The resident aliens whom God’s people are to drive out of Canaan
are the enemies of the human soul.
The harsh Psalms are the strong weapons used by the Church to exorcize
and drive out evil spirits from the souls and bodies of men.
The weapons of our warfare are not material,
but are powerful with God for the overthrow of the enemy’s strongholds [2Cor.10: 4].
The Word of God which is the Sword of the Spirit [Eph.6: 17]
is given us to expel evil and idle thoughts and replace them
by the Divine Light of the Beauty of Holiness and Truth.
Let the word of God dwell in you richly [Col.3: 16].

Other people object that they cannot sincerely say with some of the Psalms
that they are blameless, innocent, faithful, holy; it seems hypocritical.
Still others say that they do not share the agony and suffering of the Psalmist,
that their knees are not weak from fasting,
and how can they give thanks for joys and victories
they have never experienced?
The trouble with all these people is
that they have lost the sense of solidarity and unity with all mankind in Christ,
still less do they have a sense of the unity of all being in God.

After Pentecost when the Spirit restored men to unity, we read,
The whole Body of believers had one heart and soul, and none of them called any of his possessions his own, but everything was shared as common property“. Acts 4: 32
We cannot repeat too often that the Psalms refer to Christ and can be applied fully only to Him.
“But it is Christ in you Who is the hope of Glory for you”. Col.1: 27
He ever lives to make intercession in you,
with you, for you“. Hebr.7: 25
The Psalms teach us to enlarge our hearts or consciousness to embrace all mankind.
Remember those who suffer as if you shared their pain“.
Hebr.13: 3

Today we hear much of the priesthood of the laity.
The Psalms, if used aright, compel us to exercise our priesthood
and act as the voice of all mankind in Christ,
the one Mediator Priest and Intercessor.
We even act as the mouth of all dumb creation
to thank and glorify God for His Goodness.
The Angels in Heaven and all God’s creatures are invited to join the Divine praises.
To Him Who loves us and has washed us from our sins in His own blood
and made us a Kingdom of priests to serve His God and Father,
to Him be Glory and Triumph throughout endless ages [Rev.1: 5].
As we pray with and for all mankind,
we get a vision of hidden realities visible only to the eyes of faith
and we actually begin to see God’s New Creation taking shape.
When He appears, we shall be like Him,
for we shall see Him as He is [1John 3: 2].
If we are faithful, God will keep us till the end.
So Saint Athanasius explains Psalm 93:14 thus:
The Lord will guard His people in their troubles and afflictions
and He will direct and guide them until His Justice returns in judgment,
that is, until Christ judges the world;
for God has made Him our wisdom, our righteousness
,
our holiness and our redemption [1Cor.1: 30].
But disobedience always incurs God’s Judgment” [Jer.44].

The Cross is the Key
Og, Sehon, Pharaoh are so many troubles and trials.
“There is plenty of suffering and misery on earth”. 2Tim.3: 12
We make use of it aright when we offer it in union with the sufferings of Christ.
In union with Christ our sufferings assume infinite redemptive value,
just as a drop of water thrown into a great river does all that the river does“.
cf. Col.1: 24
In this way our sufferings are transformed into Light and Power and Joy.
We find true happiness by dying
because we can only enter Heaven
by dying to earthly things

cf. Acts 14: 22
That is why the Cross is the key to the Psalms, as it is the key to the Kingdom.
“Unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies,
it remains alone, merely a grain of wheat”.
John 12: 24
It is when Christ is lifted up that He draws all to Himself into the Unity of the Spirit.
It is by dying that Jesus has drawn all into the triumph of His Resurrection.
So Caiaphas prophesied “that Jesus would die for the nation
and not for the nation only, but to re-unite into one family
the scattered children of God
“.
John 11: 51, 52

Importance of the Psalterion
All the Psalms have as their aim the Glorification of God.
They were sung in the Temple, in the Synagogues, and in Jewish homes.
Today they are used by both Jews and Christians, uniting us in praise.
The Psalter is the hymnbook of the universal Church.
It is difficult to overestimate the importance of the Book of Psalms.
The Hebrew poets took these timeless religious experiences
and made them the theme of their songs.
The Psalms are poems intended to be sung.
The Hebrew title means Songs of Praise.
But they can be read with a song in the heart,
they can be prayed in Spirit and Truth.
The inspired poets of Israel reflect the spiritual experience of the human soul.
So the Psalms belong to all mankind.
As there is no book in the New Testament corresponding to the Book of Psalms,
the Psalter belongs to both the New and Old Covenants
and forms a bridge linking the Old and New Testaments.
It is eloquent proof of the Unity of the Bible.
The Psalms constitute one of the most vital forms of prayer for men of all time.
Their Inspiration is expressly stated [2Sam.23: 1-5].

At the time when the Psalms were written they were not of such use
to those among whom they were written as they are to us,
for they were written to foretell the New Covenant among those
who lived under the Old Covenant [Saint Augustine].
The one great theme is Christ in regard to His inner life as the God-man
and in His past, present and future relations with the Church and the world.
The Psalter is the expression of the heart of the True man.
It is the Prophetic portrait [Icon] of the mind and heart of the coming Saviour.
God speaks to men in human words.
What wonderful Beauty there is in the words,
Let the lifting up of my hands be an evening Sacrifice [Psalm 140],
when applied to the one great Sacrifice of our Redemption
which was offered in the evening of the world
and on the eve of the Passover by the stretching out of the Saviour’s hands
to embrace all mankind on the Cross!
This we sing daily at Vespers.
What profound significance we can see in the words,
I will not die but live and proclaim the works of the Lord” [Psalm 117: 17],
when we refer them to the morning of the Resurrection and that first Easter Day
and the commission to the Apostles to make disciples of all nations!
This we sing daily at Matins. On Easter Day itself we sing.
This is the day which the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it!
” [Psalm 117: 24].
And every day is the New day fresh from the and
in addition of the living God, so let us keep festival [1Cor.5: 8].

Inspiration
The inspiration of the Psalms as an integral part of inspired Scripture
is vouched for and guaranteed by Christ the Truth, Who asked the Pharisees:
How is it that David, inspired by the Spirit, calls Christ Lord, saying Psalm 109: 1:
The Lord said to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand till I put Thy enemies under Thy feet’“.
If David calls Him Lord, how can He be his son? [Matth.22: 43-45].
Christ classes the Psalms,
the chief book of the Chetubim or Hagiographa,
with the Law and the Prophets [Luc.24: 44].
Inspiration is explicitly defined in 2Tim.3: 16 and 2Petr.1: 20, 21.

Date and Authorship
The title of Psalm 89 attributes it to Moses.
The psalm itself recalls how the first generation of Israelites
were doomed to die in the wilderness
for their infidelity and disobedience.
So about 1280 B.C. some of the Psalms were probably being sung.
The titles ascribe 84 of the 150 to David, who lived about 1000 B.C.
So the earliest of the Psalms are well over 3000 years old
and the compilation covered perhaps 1000 years.
There are indications of editing at different dates.
For instance, after Psalm 71 an editor has added:
The songs of David the son of Jesse are ended.
But later we meet more Psalms attributed to David,
evidently inserted by other editors [90, 92, 93 etc.].
The Book of Psalms was perhaps completed
for the Jewish canon by about 300 B.C.
The Greek translation was made in Egypt
about 250 B.C. by Jews of the dispersion.

We cannot summarize the matter of authorship
better than by quoting the words of Saint Gregory the Dialogist:
Who was the author?
A very useless question as soon as we believe
that the book was the work of the Holy Spirit
Who dictated what was to be written.
If we received a letter from a Great Personage,
would we be curious to know what pen he used to write it?
“.

Historical Coverage
Besides studying the past, we can sing songs about it.
That is what the Psalmists did.
The whole History of the world as recorded in the Old Testament,
from the Creation of the universe till after the Babylonian Exile,
is put into poetry by the Psalmists.
Psalm 136 looks back to the Babylonian Exile
as a thing of the past [cp. also Psalm 125].

Unity and Divisions
The Psalms form a single book.
So our Lord refers to them [Luc.20: 42]
and so do His Apostles [Acts 1: 20].
The Orthodox Church has divided the Psalter
into 20 kathismas or sessions
[perhaps because it is customary to sit during the reading of a kathisma].
Each kathisma is further divided into 3 sections, marked by a Glory.
At each Glory it is customary to stand and sing as follows:

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and
to the Holy Spirit,
now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia. Glory to You,
O God.
Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia. Glory to You,
O God.
Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia. Glory to You,
O God.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
now and ever, and to the ages of ages.                                                                                            Amen
“.
Mp3:  Romanian Orthodox Chant – Psalm 1,2,3 at Putna Monastery

Effect of the Psalms
People talk of haunted houses.
The Psalter is a house of prayer haunted by the Spirit of Christ
Who inspired the Psalms.
Used aright, they cannot fail to lift us above and beyond ourselves.
They confront us with God and we find ourselves haunted
by His presence and gradually brought face to face with Him.
They bring our hearts and minds into the presence of the living God.
They fill our minds with His Truth in order to unite us with His Love.
The Saints and Holy Fathers of the Church,
like the Patriarchs and Prophets of Israel,
were haunted by the living reality of the Redeemer
revealed to the world in the Psalter.
He is the Word of God hidden in these words of God.
As you persevere in praying the Psalms,
you will be drenched with the Holy Spirit
as the trees are drenched with the rain [Psalm 103: 16],
you will be rapt in God and penetrated from time to time
with vivid intuitions of His action,
your mind and heart will be purified.
The pure in heart know God as the Father of mercies
Who has so loved the world as to give His only Son for their redemption [John 3: 16]
and they see Him making all things New [Rev.21: 5].
They see and know Him not merely by faith, still less by speculation,
but by Interior and incommunicable Experience.
As we sing His Glories, we are led by Faith to see His vast activity in every aspect of life.
By beholding the Glory of the Lord, we are transformed into His likeness
from Glory to glory by the Spirit of God [2Cor.3: 18].
But this will only happen if we see Christ
as the way, the truth and the life of the Psalms [John 14: 6],
the Great God in Whom we live and move and have our being [Acts 17: 28].
As we persevere in seeking His Face, we find that the Psalms stir and arouse in us
the will to Believe and the will to Love.
By Faith and Love we pass into the realm of Eternal Reality
and new vistas of experience open before us [John 5: 24].

The Voice and The Voices
The Church functions as a voice.
Its ministers are servants of the word [Luc.1: 2].
The Word of life was made visible. Life is a Person.
The eternal life that was with the Father was made visible to us.
What we have seen and heard we declare to you,
that you may share our fellowship,
the life we share with the Father and His Son in the unity of the Spirit,
that our joy may be complete [1John 1: 1-4].
In one who is obedient to His word,
the Divine love has indeed reached perfection [1John 2: 5].
In the Psalms many voices are audible:
• sometimes it is the Psalmist Who speaks,
• sometimes a fool, sometimes Israel,
• sometimes the soul, sometimes evil spirits,
• sometimes the Father, sometimes the Son, sometimes the Spirit;
• sometimes the Messiah seems to be identified with Israel,
as in the Suffering Servant of Isaiah.
With these swift transitions,
it is often difficult at first sight to tell who is the speaker.
As in the Psalms, so it is in our lives:
• “Be still and know I am” [Psalm 45: 11].
• “Speak Lord, for Your servant is listening” [1Sam.3: 9].
The good Shepherd says,
• “My sheep hear My voice” [John 10: 27].
• The voice of the Psalmist is the Voice of Christ.
• The Voice of the bride is the Voice of the Bridegroom.
“He who hears you, hears Me” [Luc.10: 16].

Come you also
– And the Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come’.
– And let everyone who hears say, ‘Come’.
– And let everyone who is thirsty come,
– and let everyone who has the will to do so take the water of life as a free gift [Rev.22: 17].
– Here the Spirit of God and the Church with one voice
invite every living soul to come to the only fountain of life and happiness.
– Then every listening soul is told to cry out of the depths of his hunger and need, Come!
Finally the thirsty and needy and willing are told to come
and receive the Water of Life freely.

Here we have two comings:
– the final coming of Christ to the world and
– the coming of each soul to Christ.
In fact, Christ comes to us continually in all the changes and chances of our lives,
supremely in the Mystery of Communion [1Cor.11: 23-30; John.6: 31-58],
and in many special Manifestations of His real Presence [John.14: 19-23].
The Psalms tell us that we cannot find
satisfaction in sin or work or riches or culture or honour and glory.
But in Jesus we find here and now Satisfaction and Happiness, Pardon, Purity and Peace:
Happy are those who hunger and thirst for Righteousness [Christ],
for they will be satisfied [Matth.5: 6).
Pardon: In Him we have the forgiveness of our sins [Eph.1: 7].
Purity: He has washed us from our sins in His own blood [Rev.1: 5].
Peace: My peace I give you (Jn. 14:27). He is our Peace [Eph.2: 14].

And so we watch in eager expectation
for the coming of the Son of God in power and glory,
praying and working for that golden age foreseen and foretold
by the holy Prophets where God’s Will of perfect Love is done on earth
as it is in Heaven.
Let us take as our motto the words of the Psalmist:
I will live to please the Lord in the land of the living [Psalm 114: 9],
the Promised Land, the honeycomb of the earth [Ez.20: 6 LXX],
peace beyond all understanding [Phil.4: 7],
the joy of the Lord [Matth.25: 23],
Heaven within you [Luc.17: 21],
Divine life in the soul of man [2Cor.5: 15],
sharing the Divine Nature [2Petr.1: 4].
He who has the Son has the Life [1John 5: 12].
Come, Lord Jesus, come [Rev.22: 20].

Panegyric on the Psalms [from Saint John Chrysostom – Extract]
If we keep vigil in Church, David comes first, last and central.
If early in the morning we want songs and hymns, first, last and central is David again.
If we are occupied with the funeral solemnities of those who have fallen asleep,
or if virgins sit at home and spin,
David is first, last and central.
O amazing wonder!

Many who have made little progress in literature know the Psalter by heart.
Nor is it only in cities and churches that David is famous;
in the village market, in the desert, and in uninhabitable land,
he excites the praise of God.
In monasteries, among those holy choirs of angelic armies,
David is first, last and central.
In the convents of virgins, where are the communities of those who imitate Mary;
in the deserts where there are men crucified to the world,
who live their life in Heaven with God,
David is first, last and central.
All other men at night are overcome by sleep.
David alone is active, and gathering the servants of God into Seraphic bands,
he turns earth into Heaven, and converts men into Angels”.
cf. Father Lazaros Moore – 1st printed 1966

Psalms created on Truth – sitting at the rivers of Babylon [Psalm 136]

And the Lord humbled you
and suffered you to hunger
and fed you with manna,
which you didn’t know, neither did your fathers know;
that the Lord might make you know
that man doth not live by bread alone,
but by every Word that proceeds
out of the mouth of the Lord
man does live“.
Deut.8: 3

The Lord tests His children
in the wilderness for forty days [years]
– Eating manna taught them
that man lives by the Word of God.
– Their clothing did not wear out.
– The Lord humiliated them.
– If they serve other gods,
they will perish.

Other nations are driven out of the promised Land
because of their wickedness.
– Moses evaluate the rebellions of Israel
and tells how he mediated
between the people and the Lord.
On two occasions Moses went
without food and water for forty days.

The tables of stone
containing the Ten Commandments
are placed in the altar [ark].
All that God requires is
that we Love and serve Him
– How great and mighty is the Lord!

You shall Love and obey the Lord your God
– If the children of Israel obey,
they will be blessed with rain and harvests
and will drive out mighty nations
– We have to learn God’s laws and teach them
– Blessings flow from obedience;
offensive terms are present in dis-obedience.

We have to destroy the worldly gods and places of worship
– The Lord will elect where His people will worship.
– The frustrating of blood is forbidden.
– Church’s worship have to be conform
to the Divine standard.

I told you before “How soon we forget!
That is more than just a clever saying, it is the truth.
Sports fans forget that their team won last year,
when they begin to lose this year.
Children forget the sacrifices their parents make for them.
Students forget what teachers taught them.
We forget faces, dates, places,
and even the names of old friends.
But fortunately, most of what we forget
is not all that serious.
For many of us forgetfulness
is just one of many signs of aging.

Remember Your God
Problems of memory though come not only through advancing age,
but are endemic in us all.
Scripture calls us to remember for an important reason.
The world does not need so much
to be informed as to be reminded
” [Thomas More]
The Bible says again and again
Forget not!” and “Remember!“;
and so we do during these days of Lent.
We are sitting at the rivers of Babylon
and we remember how we have to be:
– an Image of our Creator;
– rooted in the character of God.
And God does save us through
the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd.
It is Christ Who knows and experiences
the laments for and with us,
and it is Christ Who we find our confidence in
to praise Him in the storms of our life.

Moses at the Burning Bush
God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”;
and He said,
Therefore you shall say to your sons,
‘I AM has sent me to you’
“.
God, furthermore, said to Moses,
Therefore you shall say to your sons,
‘The LORD, the God of your fathers,
the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac,
and the God of Jacob,
has sent me to you’
“.
This is My name forever
and this is My memorial-Name to all generations
Go and gather your elders together and say to them,
‘The LORD, the God of your fathers,
the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
‘,
has appeared to me, saying,
“I am indeed concerned about you
and what has been done to you in Egypt . . . . .

[in the desert/the wilderness].
cf. Ex.3: 14-16

The call to remember is a command to meditate on who God is.
To remember is not so much a warning to master a wealth of facts about God
as it is a reminder of the awful possibility
that we can forget our dependence upon Him.
The command to remember here is given
as Church is poised to possess their inheritance,
the promised land.
There existed the very real possibility
that we would cease to remember all God did for us
as we found we no longer had to depend on Him for everything we have.
When we enjoy the wealth of the land He provides for us,
we will forget it came from Him.
It is ironic that we may find ourselves forgetting Him
because of the many blessings that He has given us.
When our hands are full
we forget the lessons we learned
when our hands were empty.

Time of Investigation
Your Investment in family-live
during these days of Lent, pays benefits later!
Meekness has always been a characteristic of
the Godly [Ps.37: 11]. It’s the only quality
that Jesus ever ascribed to Himself:
– “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me;
for I am meek and lowly in heart:
and you shall find rest
unto your souls

Matth.11: 29

Meekness
So what is meekness?
The Greeks used the word ”πραότητα” to refer to ‘the taming of a wild horse.
The animal hadn’t lost its strength,
but all of the power of that animal
had been brought under control.
To be meek is to be under
the controlling Power of the Holy Spirit.
It involves our submission to God’s authority
and it involves the yielding of our rights.
It is linked with what the Bible refers to
as by Grace being filled with the Holy Spirit [Pentecost].
If you have trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour
then you have all of the Holy Spirit that you’re ever going to get.
The Holy Spirit is one of the manifestations of God. You can’t just have a bit of Him.
Either you have the Spirit of God or you don’t.
Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ,
he is none of His
”.
Romans 8: 9
The filling of the Holy Spirit
has nothing to do with getting more
of the Holy Spirit
but it has everything to do with
the Holy Spirit getting more of you.
The Holy Spirit wants to fill and control every area in our lives; but He does not force Himself upon us.
He wants us to yield to Him
the right to every single area of our lives
until they are under His control and Lordship.
This is the way of blessing and success.
The meeker we become
the less upset and angry we will be
when we don’t get our own way.
Meekness is the antidote to anger.

► ►► The contemporary spiritual, theological problem concerns the person [πρόσωπο] …
Revelation reveals that “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14).
If He says, “I AM” it means that He is a person.
The word “I” has great significance.
For it expresses the person. God says:
Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness”.
Gen.1: 26
Science cannot say this. Only revelation can say this.
And we need to base ourselves on revelation,
which the Lord never refuted …

Theology is the content of our prayers.
And an example of this theology is the Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great
[every Sunday served during Lent].
The whole anaphora is Theology and is expressed through prayer.
But then Theology comes as a state of being.
John the Theologian, from an academic point of view,
was not a theologian, but he says things simply.
His theology, however, is a state of being.
Whatever he says becomes dogma for everyone.
But the only study that enables us
to sense what God is like,
is the ascetic life according to
the commandments of the Gospel.
When our life is lived according to the will of God,
then we understand that there cannot be a difference
between the commandments and the mind of God Himself.
When we think according to the commandments,
then our mind gets used to thinking as God Himself thinks.
And regarding Theosis, they say: but what is theosis?
With obedience to the abbot from the beginning,
one’s will is cut off,
then in obedience to the Gospel commandments
one reaches this state.
We do small things but the results must become Great.
Through obedience we enter into the life of divine Being.
We have good descriptions of this in
the writings of Saint Nicodemus, the Athonite.
I have told others, as well, that
when they learn things from the world,
they are living in sin.
They need to free themselves through Asceticism.
This is how I tried to make them understand the need for patience.
[Just as the Incarnation was a great kenotic act,
where Christ God became man as one person
and bore our sins patiently with humility and love.
In following Him, we become true persons in Him
and realize our life and fully live our freedom.
It is here where personhood finds its greatest achievement:
in putting on Christ and His indwelling in us
by the Holy Spirit sent from God the Father.
The very essence of our life must become
constant personal encounter with Christ,
and in this we become truly persons, truly free, truly loving.
This is how personhood is understood in Theosis.
We fulfil our personhood in living in Christ
and His dwelling within us,
and inasmuch as He has perfected humanity,
He raises us in freedom, in love,
to the fulfilment of our humanity,
as true persons in Him].
father Sophrony [Sakharov 1896-1993]

Psalm 136 chanted during the Sunday liturgies
during Great Lent instead of the regular Communion hymn,
just before Holy Communion:
1.] Mp3  by George Papanikolaos from Samos, Greece.
Ἐπι των ποταμών Βαβυλωνος -By The Waters of Babylon [Psalm 136] – 3rd Tn
2.] Mp3 by Sirin (Сирин) Ensemble, Russia.
Sirin (Сирин) Ensemble – ‘By the rivers of Babylon’ [Psalm 136}

Tekst Psalm 136:
By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.
There on the poplars we hung our harps,
for there our captors asked us for songs,
our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?
If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill.
May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem
my highest joy.
Remember, Lord, what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell.
“Tear it down”, they cried, “tear it down to its foundations!”.
Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction,
happy is the one who repays you
according to what you have done to us“.

Wherever you go,
have God ever before your eyes“.
Saint Antony the Great