Orthodoxy, Pascha, Passover & the physical Resurrection from death

Yes, our bodies will be raised not spiritually or ethereally,
but physically and materially.
Our souls will be reunited with our transformed physical bodies,
brought back to life from the dead.
Scripture teaches this in many ways:

1.]. simply to speak of a “Resurrection”
of the dead is to imply physicality [bodily]:
At the Resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage;
they will be like the angels in Heaven.
But about the Resurrection of the dead
– have you not read what God said to you
“.
Matth.22: 30-31;
You will be blessed; although they cannot repay you,
you will be repaid at the Resurrection of the righteous
“.
Luc.14: 14;
In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.
For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable
and we will be changed
“.
1Cor.15: 52;
For the Lord himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout,
with the Voice of the archangel, and with the Trump of God:
and the dead in Christ shall rise first
“.
1Thess.4: 16
That is what a Resurrection is.
The Bible has no categories for the concept of a Resurrected Body
that remains dead and physically lying in a grave.

2.]. For our citizenship is in Heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the Body of His Glory“.
Phil.3: 20-21,
this teaches us that Christ’s Resurrected Body is the pattern of our resurrection body.
We know that Christ was raised in a physical body
because the disciples ate with Him after the Resurrection;
Not to all the people, but unto witnesses
chosen before of God, even to us,
who did eat and drink with Him after He rose from the dead.
Acts 10: 41
and touched Him:
And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, Peace be to all.
And they came and held Him by the feet, and worshipped Him
“.
Matthew 28: 9;
also when He told Thomas,
Put your finger here, and look at My hands.
Take your hand, and put it into My side.
Stop doubting, but believe
“.
John 20: 27
Also, Jesus outright declared that His resurrection body was physical and touchable:
See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself;
touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh
and bones as you see that I have

Luc.24: 39;
also “that God has fulfilled this Promise to our children in that He raised up Jesus,
as it is also written in the 2nd Psalm
, ‘You are My Son; today I have begotten You’.
As for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead,
no longer to return to decay, He has spoken in this way
:
‘I will give You the Holy and Sure blessings of David’.
Therefore He also says in another Psalm,
‘You will not allow Your Holy One to undergo decay’.
For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation,
fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers and underwent decay;
but He whom God raised did not undergo decay

Acts 13:33-37
Since Christ’s Resurrection is the pattern of our resurrection,
we will therefore be raised in a physical body as well.

3.]. Romans 8:21-23 speaks in vers 23 of waiting for “the Redemption [recovery] of our bodies“.
Our bodies are not going to be thrown away.
They are going to be renewed, restored, revitalized.

4.]. Jesus speaks of the Resurrection
as involving the coming forth of individuals out of their tombs,
which clearly indicates a physical concept of the resurrection:
Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming,
in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice,
and will come forth;
those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life,
those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment
“.
John 5: 28-29

5.]. the Old Testament speaks of the Resurrection as being physical:
And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake,
these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt
“.
Daniel 12: 2
Likewise, we read in Job:
I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last He will take His stand on the earth.
Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God;
Whom I myself shall behold,
and whom my eyes shall see and not another.
My heart faints within Me
“.
Job 19: 25-27

How long do we have to wait for this?
We haven’t to wait a long time, because with God there isn’t time,
so after our death we also have no watch to follow,
time is there and it is now.
The Resurrection of the body will occur
at the end of the age when Christ returns.
There are two main ways the Scriptures indicate this:

1.]. Many verses teach that our resurrected bodies
will be the same bodies that we have now,
except transformed into an immortal state.
Since God does not create new bodies for us from scratch,
but rather He Resurrects the body that dies,
it is clear that we do not receive our resurrection bodies immediately at death.
For our bodies very clearly and evidently remain here on earth and are laid to rest;
that’s the reason we have ‘a burial’, after death.

2.]. Many explicit verses declare that the Resurrection will not occur
until the end of the age when Christ returns.

But as for you, go your way to the end;
then you will enter into rest and rise again
for your allotted portion at the end of the age
“.
Daniel 12: 13;
here an angel looks ahead to the Resurrection
as occurring at the end of the age.

For this is the will of My Father,
that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him,
may have eternal life;
and I Myself will raise him up on the last day
“.
John 6: 40, where Christ declares
that the resurrection will happen on the last day.
also:
And this is the Father’s Will Who has sent Me,
that of all that He has given Me I should lose nothing,
but should raise it up again at the last day
“.
John 6: 39
And: “No man can come to Me,
except the Father Who has sent Me draw him:
and I will raise him up at the last day
“.
John 6: 44
And: “Whosoever eats My flesh, and drinks My blood,
has eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day
“.
John 6: 54
Martha said unto Him,
I know that Lazaros shall rise again
in the Resurrection at the last day
“.
cf. John 11:24

Paul specifies this meaning even further, stating in 1 Corinthians 15:23
that we will be raised at the return of Christ:
Each [will be raised] in his own order:
Christ the first fruits,
after that those who are Christ’s at His coming
“.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17 he also looks ahead to the resurrection as something that will occur not until Christ comes back: “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

All Christians will be glorified together
The fact that the resurrection will happen at the return of Christ has important implications:
It means that glorification will be a corporate reality
and not an individual experience
that happens to each believer separately at death.
All Christians will be raised into glory together.
While we all lived at different periods of time,
we all came to faith at different times,
and we all will have died at different times
[except for those who lived until Christ returns],
it is an amazing thing that God has planned things such
that our glorification will occur at the same time.
What a great encouragement it is to know
that the believers of the past are waiting for us
to finish the race ourselves so that we can all experience
the great joy of glorification together.

Therefore we do not lose heart,
but though our outer man is decaying,
yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.
For momentary, light affliction is producing for us
an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,
while we look not at the things which are seen,
but at the things which are not seen;
for the things which are seen are temporal,
but the things which are not seen are eternal.
For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down,
we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven;
inasmuch as we, having put it on, shall not be found naked.
For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened,
because we do not want to be unclothed, but to be clothed,
in order that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God,
who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.
Therefore, being always of good courage,
and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord
– for we walk by faith, not by sight- we are of good courage,
I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.
Therefore also we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
What will happen when you die?
By “you” I mean believers in Jesus Christ.
If you are not a believer, the aim of these messages is
to wake you up from the slumber of indifference
to the question of death and eternity and to motivate you to consider Jesus Christ
as the only way to eternal life and the only escape from hell and eternal death.
I am the way the Truth and the Life,
no one comes to the Father but by Me
John 14: 6
There is no other way to God.

I will try to answer from Scripture the question,
“What happens immediately at the moment of death?” In the following four weeks the questions will be:

What happens to you at the coming of Christ?

What happens to believers at the Judgment?
What is our final place: a distant Heaven,
or the New Earth where lions and lambs lie down in Peace?
What is the most essential bridge that links this life and the next?
Why This Theme Is Crucial to Consider
There is a long list of reasons why this theme seems crucial to me for our consideration.
Let me mention a few of them:

1.]. The Possibilities of Eternal Joy or Eternal Misery
The possibilities for joy and misery after you die are trillions of times greater than in the few years on this earth before you die. The Bible compares this life to a vapor that appears as you breathe on a cold winter morning and then vanishes (James 4:14). The Bible describes the time after death as “ages of ages.” Not just one or two ages of thousands of years, but ages of ages; thousands and thousands of ages (Revelation 14:11). It matters infinitely what happens to you after you die.

2.]. The Question of Authentic Faith
This theme forces the question as to whether our faith is real, substantial, biblical faith in objective, external reality outside ourselves. Namely, is our faith in God or is it a mere subjective experience of feelings and thoughts inside ourselves that function as an emotional cushion to soften the bumps of life and give us a network of friends. Facing eternity has an amazing effect of sobering us out of religious delusions.

3.]. The Centrality of God
Thinking about death and eternity helps keep God as the center of our lives by testing whether we are more in love with this world than we are in love with God himself. Does the thought of dying give us more pain at losing what we love on earth than it gives us joy at gaining Christ?

4.]. The Call to Christian Courage
When the biblical truth of this theme grips you, it frees you from fear and gives courage to live the most radical, self-sacrificing life of love. The person who can truly say, “To die is gain,” will be able to say like no one else, “To live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21). But if you can’t say, “To die is gain,” then you will you will probably say, in one degree or another, “Let us eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die” (1 Corinthians 15:32). Being sure of what happens when you die is indispensable as a believer in Christ for your daily courage and for not losing heart through the pain and the diminishing health of this life.

That brings us to our text.
Providing the Basis of Not Losing Heart

What Paul is doing in 2 Corinthians 4:16–5:10 is showing the Corinthians
why he does not lose heart in spite of all the troubles and afflictions [2Cor.4: 8-12].
Especially in view of the fact that he knows he is dying; his body is wearing away.
read: “Therefore we do not lose heart,
but though our outer man is decaying,
yet our inner man is being renewed day by day
“.
2Cor. 4: 16

It is utterly crucial that we not lose heart.
Some of you have taken such a pounding physically
and financially and relationally that you have often been tempted
to “lose heart“; to give up.
To say, “It isn’t worth it“. – “Who cares?
Paul faced the same temptation [2Cor.4: 8-12]
and this text holds one of the keys
to why he did not lose heart.

To show that this really is crucial to his point here,
look at verses 6 and 8 of chapter 5 which is part of the same train of thought.
Verse 6: “Therefore, being always of good courage . . . ”
Verse 8: “We are of good courage, I say“.
We’ll come back to these verses in moment,
but the point now is simply to show you
that what Paul is doing here is giving the basis
of being of good courage
and not losing heart.
That is the effect I would like it to have on you.

The Threat: His Body Is Decaying
Now let’s go back to 4: 16
and follow his line of thought to see
what is threatening to make Paul lose heart and lose courage
and what is keeping him from losing heart.

Verse 16: “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying . . . ”
Here is the threat he is dealing with:
His body—”the outer man“—is decaying; it is wearing out.
He can’t see the way he used to [and there were probably no glasses].
He can’t hear the way he used to.
He does not recover from beatings the way he used to.
His strength walking from town to town
does not hold up the way it used to.
He sees the wrinkles in his face and neck.
His memory is not as good.
His joints get stiff when he sits still.
In other words, he knows that he, like everybody else, is dying.
His outer man is decaying.
That’s the threat to his courage and joy.

Now Why Doesn’t He Lose Heart?
The first part of the answer is again in verse 16:
Therefore we do not lose heart,
but though our outer man is decaying,
yet our inner man is being renewed day by day“.
He doesn’t lose heart because day by day his heart,
his inner man, is being renewed.
If his decaying body tends to make him lose heart,
something else tends to make him gain heart.
What is it?

Fixing His Eyes on What Can’t Be Seen
His renewed heart comes from something very strange:
it comes from looking at what he can’t see.
Verse 18:
–>We look not at the things which are seen,
but at the things which are not seen;
for the things which are seen are temporal,
but the things which are not seen are eternal“.
This is Paul’s way of not losing heart:
looking at what you can’t see.

Recall how Jesus criticized the religious leaders in his day:
Seeing they do not see and hearing they do not hear
Matth.13: 13
In other words there was something to “see” in Jesus’ life
and teaching which they didn’t see but should have seen.
That has got to be reversed if we are to get our hope
and our courage from Jesus and not lose heart.
It has to be said of us,
Not seeing, they see; and not hearing, they hear“.
That’s what Paul was doing in verse 18;
he was looking at things that are not seen.

Paul illustrates this in chapter 5, verse 7:
–>We walk by faith, not by sight“.
This doesn’t mean that we leap into the dark without evidence of what’s there.
But it does mean that the most precious and important realities in the world
are beyond our senses now, and we just  “look” at them (v. 18)
through what we know of Christ from faithful witnesses
who have seen Him and heard His Voice.
We strengthen our hearts
– we renew our courage –
by fixing the gaze of our hearts on invisible, objective Truth
that we learn about through the testimony of those
who knew Christ and were taught by Him [cf. Eph.1: 18-23].

Looking to the Unseen Weight of Glory Being Prepared
What Truth?
What do we fix our gaze on to experience day by day
the renewal of the inner man in the face of death?

To answer this we look back to verse 17 for a powerful summary statement,
and we look forward into chapter 5 for the unpacking of this summary statement.

Verse 17: We renew our inner man each day by looking at this truth:
Momentary, light affliction is producing for us
an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison“.

The decaying of your body is not meaningless.
The pain, pressure, frustration, and affliction are not happening in vain.
They are not vanishing into a black hole of pointless suffering.
Instead this “momentary, light affliction
[he calls it that even though it lasted for years
and was unremitting and often excruciating]
is producing for us an eternal weight of Glory
far beyond all comparison“.

In other words, the unseen things that Paul looks at
to renew his inner man is the immense weight of glory
that is being prepared for him not just after,
but through and by, the wasting away of his body.
There is a correlation between the decay of Paul’s body
and the display of Paul’s Glory.
When he is hurting, he fixes his eyes not on how heavy the hurt is,
but on how heavy the glory will be because of the hurt.

What Does This Unseen Glory Consist Of?
Now what does he see when he looks to the unseen glory? As he goes on in chapter five he fills in some of what he sees as he looks at the unseen.

Now the next two messages concern these verses: the resurrection body and the judgment of believers. But neither of these is the focus of this message. So if I pass over something too quickly, read the next sermon.

Verses 1–5 are about the hope of receiving new, glorious bodies at the resurrection.
Verses 9–10 are about the judgment and Paul’s effort to please Christ the Judge.
Our focus is on verses 6–8, the hope of being with Christ immediately when you die.

His Great, Final Hope
But let me read you the verses about the resurrection body because there is a crucial connection between this hope and the hope of being with Christ (without a new body) immediately when you die. Verses 1–5:

For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down [he’s talking about his body which is decaying], we have a building from God [a building as opposed to a tent for a house—that is, something more durable and lasting, namely, a new resurrection body],
a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house [this “tent-house,” our present body] we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from Heaven [that is, our resurrection body; he mixes metaphors here shifting back and forth now between being clothed and being housed]; inasmuch as we, having put it on, shall not be found naked [in other words, he does not prefer to put off his present body like a garment and become a disembodied soul—that’s what nakedness means].
For indeed while we are in this tent [this mortal body], we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed [we don’t want to be a bodiless soul], but to be clothed [on top of our present clothes—he wants the second coming of Christ to happen so that he will not have to die and be without a body, but rather have his present body swallowed up in the glorious resurrection life of the new body], in order that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now
He Who prepared us for this very purpose is God,
Who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.

We’ll talk more about this in the next message.
For now, here’s the crucial point:
If Paul had his preference, he would choose to receive his new resurrection body at the second coming of Christ without having to die.
And the reason he gives is that the experience of “nakedness”
– that is being stripped of his body –
is not something as good as having his body swallowed up by life
as he is changed in the twinkling of an eye at the second coming of Christ.

This means that the great final hope of the Christian is not to die and be freed from our bodies, but to be raised with new, glorious bodies, or, best of all, to be alive at the second coming so that we do not have to lose our body temporarily and be “naked” (souls without bodies, cf. Matthew 10:28; Revelation 6:9; Hebrews 12:23) until the Resurrection.

Present with the Lord Immediately After Death
But does that mean that dying and going to be with Christ does not happen,
or that it is not good?
No. Paul puts things back in perspective again in verses 6–8.

Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord [the full intimacy we long for is not possible here]
– for we walk by faith, not by sight –
we are of good courage,
I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body
and to be at home with the Lord.

Now get this. In verse 4 Paul says, “He does not want to be unclothed“.
His first preference is not to be “absent from the body“.
He says that in comparison to being over-clothed
with the New Resurrection Body
if he is alive at the second coming of Christ.
That would be his first preference.
But if that is not possible
– if the choice is between more life here by faith and going to be with Christ –
he prefers that God would take him;
EVEN IF it means nakedness, that is,
even if it means that he must be stripped of his body.

And the reason for this willingness to leave his body behind is not because the body is bad—O, how he wants the experience of the new resurrection body—but because being at home with the Lord is so irresistibly attractive to Paul. Verse 8:
I prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord“.

So Paul renews his inner man by looking to unseen things.
He looks at three possibilities and prefers them in descending order.
First, he prefers that Christ would come and clothe his mortal body with immortality so that he would not have to die and be an incomplete, disembodied soul.
But if God does not will that, Paul prefers to be absent from the body to living on here, because he loves Christ more than he loves anything else.
To be absent from the body will mean to be at home with the Lord;
a deeper intimacy and Greater at-homeness than anything we can know in this life.
Finally, if God wills that it is not time for the second coming or time for death,
then Paul will walk by faith and not by sight.

In that faith he will be of good courage
and even though his outer man is decaying,
his inner man will be renewed day-by-day
through this faith in the unseen weight of glory.

Examine yourself.
Do you share these biblical priorities
and values in life?
Do you long mainly for the second coming?
And secondly, do you long to be at home with Christ
even if it costs you the surrender of your body?
Third, are you committed to walk by faith
until He comes or until He calls?

 

CHRIST IS RISEN !!!
HE IS RISEN INDEED !!! 

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

Orthodoxy & back to the future, the dream of a nationalic Church around Moscow

Separation of Church and Politics???
Patriarch Kirill
compares Ukrainian independence wish
with Russian revolution.
The head of the Russian Orthodox Church
has the ‘Euromaidan’ protest in Ukraine ,
that led to the dismissal of a pro – Russian government,
compared with the Russian Revolution of 1917.

This led to the overthrow of the tsarist regime .
About half a year later, the fledgling democracy was smothered in a communist coup .
” The recent events in Ukraine , terrible images of the revolutionary uprising in the capital, killed people , spiritually and mentally driven to madness – all this helps to understand what happened at that time in Russia, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow told us .

“Today, in this life-changing time for our country ,
we have in the Kremlin prayers for the Russian state
and the entire historical Roesj
so God under the protection of the Holy Mother of God
will love us and will never allow
that a war between us
brother will not stand up against his brother
and that the spiritual power of Roesj will increase
– the same force that led to
the foundation of the great state”,
said this Patriarch.

The historical term Roesj [or Kiev – Roesj]
refers to the loose connection of medieval Slavic tribes
between the Baltic and the Black Sea led by Roerik dynasty.
Both Russia , Belarus and Ukraine [the main city of Kiev]
see this as their precursor.

Orthodoxy & Holy week, the first days of the Holy Week

  1. 1.       Monday of Holy Week &
    the blessed and Noble Joseph the All-Comely and
    the fig tree which was cursed and withered by the Lord

The story of Joseph, the All-Comely is told in the book of Genesis.
Joseph was the penultimate of  Patriarch Jacob’s 12 sons, and his favorite.
His father fashioned a “coat of many colors” for Joseph.
This, in addition to Joseph telling his brothers about dreams
that were not flattering to the brothers made them very envious.

One day, when out in the field, all the brothers  save Ruben (the eldest) and Benjamin,
who was yet to be born, conspired to kill Joseph.
Ruben suggested that instead they throw him into a pit
and wait to see what happened.
He intended to come back later and rescue Joseph,
in the meantime, Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt by some traders.
The brothers killed a sheep, and put its blood on Joseph’s coat,
which they had taken from him previously, and told their father
that Joseph had been torn to pieces by a wild animal.

He was in the employ of Potiphar, an important man in Egypt.
Potiphar’s wife made many passes at Joseph, but he was chaste.
One day, when Joseph was alone in the house, his wife grabbed him
and he fled away naked. She made up a story about his advances
and Joseph was thrown in prison.
In prison, he interpreted the dream Pharaoh’s butler and baker
and his interpretation came true to the letter.
The butler was restored to Pharaoh’s service and the baker was executed.
The butler had promised to bring Joseph’s case before Pharaoh,
but forgot until Pharaoh  had a dream that none of his wise men could interpret.
The butler then remembered Joseph, and he correctly interpreted the dream
as prophesying seven years of plenty, followed by seven years of famine.

Pharaoh put Joseph over all of Egypt, in order to prepare for the famine.
When the famine struck, Jacob sent his sons to get food in Egypt.
Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not know him.
After Benjamin also came to Egypt, much to the consternation of Jacob,
Joseph made himself known to his brothers in an incredibly emotional scene.
Soon thereafter, all of Jacob’s family moved to Egypt.

Joseph is a type of Christ:
There are many parallels between Joseph and our Lord Jesus Christ.
► Joseph was a slave “in body
– our Lord took on the form of a slave – humanity.
► Joseph was sold into slavery
because of the envy of his brothers for 20 pieces of silver
– Jesus our Saviour was sold for thirty pieces of silver
by his close confederate, the unworthy Apostle Judas,
because of the envy of the Jewish rulers.
► Joseph was cast in to a pit and later thrown into prison
– our Lord Jesus Christ went into the gloomy pit of Hell to save imprisoned humanity.
► Joseph did not complain about his lot,
– our Lord was silent in the face of His accusers.
► Joseph was chaste when tempted by Potiphar’s wife,
unlike the First Adam, who gave into temptation.
– the Second Adam, our Lord was perfectly sinless and showed us the way to perfect chastity.
► Joseph became Lord over Egypt [which represents sin].
– Jesus Christ is Lord over all of His human nature,
making us capable of becoming Lords over our Egypt – our human nature.
► Joseph was immersed in a land with many temptations
[especially since he became the second greatest man in Egypt],
an yet he remained chaste and good, and eventually saved all his people.
– our Lord was immersed in many temptations
and did not sin once, and eventually made us capable of perfection.
► He saved his people by feeding them bread in a time of famine.
– Jesus the Saviour saves mankind,
and feeds them with the bread of heaven – His body and blood.

Kontakion          Tn 8, Holy Monday Matins
Jacob lamented the loss of Joseph,
but his righteous son was seated in a chariot and honoured as a king.
For he was not enslaved to the pleasures of Egypt,
but he was glorified by God who sees the hearts of men
and bestows on them a crown incorruptible
“.

Ikos       Tn8, Holy Monday Matins
Let us now add our lamentation to the lamentation of Jacob,
and let us weep with him for Joseph,
his wise and glorious son
who was enslaved in body but kept his soul free from bondage
and became lord over all Egypt.
For God grants unto his servants a Crown incorruptible
“.

The barren Figtree
Then Christ told this parable:
A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any.
So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard,
‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’
“.
‘Sir,’ the man replied,
‘leave it alone for one more year
and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it.
If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down’

Luc.13: 6-9
In the parable of the barren fig tree, the owner is generally regarded as representing God,
Who had a fig tree [tree of knowledge] planted in his vineyard [the Garden of Eden]
and came seeking fruit [Righteous Works, which in part is a Mystery].
The Gardener [vinedresser] is God and the Vine is Jesus [the Tree of Life].
Fig trees were often planted in vineyards.
The fig tree was a common symbol for Israel
and may also have that meaning here,
or the tree in the Parable may refer to the religious leadership.
In either case, the Parable reflects Jesus offering his hearers
one last chance for repentance.
“These three years” logically refers to the period of Jesus’ Ministry.
The Parable has been connected to the Miracle of cursing the fig tree.
This Parable is one which our Lord may be said
to have put before his hearers twice; once in words,
once in action.

  1. 2.       Holy Tuesday & the Parable of the Ten Virgins
    The parable of the Ten Virgins teaches us
    that we must prepare ourselves now for the coming of Christ and prepare ourselves for the wait no matter how long it takes.

Our Lord first admonished His hearers
to pray and not to faint“;
His concluding remark is
And will not God revenge His elect
who cry to Him day and night and
will He have patience in their regard? I say to you, that He will quickly revenge them
“.
                                                                               Luc.18: 7–8

The conclusion of the parable of the ten virgins
which also indicates this association:
Watch you therefore, because you know not the day or the hour”.
Matth.25: 13
In this parable the foolish virgins, by neglecting to take oil with their lamps,
failed to welcome the bridegroom at his arrival and,
consequently, merited the punishment of not participating in the wedding feast.
The debt is this.
Just as the virgins were obliged
to have their lamps burning when the bridegroom arrived,
so too the faithful are obliged to prepare for Christ’s coming
in judgment by their good works.
Those who do will enter into everlasting life,
but those who do not will be condemned
by those dreadful words:
Amen I say to you, I know you not“.

This central comparison is extended to other parts of the image.
The bridegroom Who bars the foolish virgins from the wedding feast
is Christ Who will reward each man according to his deeds.
The wedding feast, therefore, represents the everlasting happiness of Heaven.
The uncertainty regarding the time of the bridegroom’s arrival signifies
that the time of Christ’s second coming is hidden from us.
There are many other incidents in the parable
which have no supernatural counterpart.
It is of no significance, for example,
that while the bridegroom tarried all the virgins slept.
This is merely a detail enhancing the realism of Christ’s story.
The same is true of the refusal of the wise virgins to share their oil with the foolish.

  1. 3.       Wednesday, commemoration
    of the sinful Women who anointed the Lord Jesus with Myrrh
    The woman who was a harlot and
    who anointed the Lord with myrrh,
    while this took place a short time
    before the saving Passion.
    Judas from becoming a traitor,
    the woman is honoured by saying
    that her good deed would be related everywhere, throughout the whole world.

That nard, or rather myrrh, with which the harlot anointed Christ, was very costly.
It belonged to that type of compound called myrrh,
which Moses was commanded by God to make
for the anointing of priests and chief priests.
It is of this that David says,
It is like the precious oil on the head, running down to the beard,
to Aaron’s beard, running down to the edge of his garment” [Psalm 132 : 2].
It was a compound of four substances: myrrh, flowers, fragrant cinnamon, and oil.
It was called true or genuine, because skilled and trusted men were appointed
to prepare that which God had in a Mysterious manner revealed to Moses alone.
An alabaster jar is a glass vessel made with no handle,
which is also called a vykion.

We should know that today the deceitful Judas,
that lover of money,
that whelp of Satan, began the negotiations with the wicked Sanhedrin
to betray the Master for thirty pieces of silver.
Being indignant after Christ rebuked him
for showing concern for the cost of the oil of myrrh,
he sought out the Jews who were at the court of Caiaphas.
After taking council with the Jewish High Priests,
he searched for an opportunity to betray the Lord when He was alone,
for the Sanhedrin feared the multitude that followed Christ.

We see in today’s Gospel [Matth.26: 6-16]
that the sinful woman brought oil of myrrh to anoint Christ
while Judas brought his greed to the Sanhedrin.
She spread out her hair to wipe the Lord’s feet,
while Judas stretched out his hands for the money.
She rejoiced to pour out the very precious oil on the Lord,
while Judas made plans to sell the One who is above all price.
By anointing Christ, she acknowledged Him as Lord,
while Judas severed himself from the Master.
She was set free of her sins,
while Judas was entrapped and became a slave of the devil.
She tenderly kissed the feet of Christ, asking for forgiveness,
|while Judas plotted to betray the Lord with a kiss,
anticipating the silver.

Apolytikion of the Bridegroom
Behold! The bridegroom approaches in the middle of the night,
And blessed is that servant whom He shall find watching;
But unworthy he whom He shall find careless.
Beware, therefore, O my soul.
Be not overcome with sleep,
lest thou be given over to death and shut outside the kingdom.
But arise and cry:
Holy, holy, holy art Thou, O God!
Through the Theotokos have mercy on us!
“.

Kontakion          Tn4
Though I have transgressed, O Good One,
more than the harlot,
I have never offered Thee a flood of tears.
but, praying in silence,
I fall down before Thee,
with love embracing Thy most pure feet,
that You as Master mayest grant me remission of sins.
And I cry to You, O Saviour:
Deliver me from the defilement of my evil deeds
“.

Ikos
Having come to hate the works of sin and carnal pleasure,
the woman who before had been a prodigal became chaste at once.
Calling to mind the magnitude of disgrace
and the condemnation of torment which harlots and profligates,
of whom I am first, shall endure, I also am afraid;
yet I foolishly continue in my evil ways.
But the woman who was a harlot, having been filled with fear,
hastened quickly to the Deliverer, crying out:
“O compassionate Lord Who loves mankind,
deliver me from the defilement of my evil deeds
“.

The Exapostilarion [The Hymn of Light]
Your bridal chamber, O my Saviour, I see adorned,
and I have no raiment with which to enter therein.
Enlighten the garment of my soul,
O Giver of Light, and save me.

The Hymn of Cassia
O Lord, the woman who had fallen into many sins,
perceiving Your Divinity, became one of the Myrrhbearers,
bringing You ointment in tears before Your burial.
She cried,
– “Woe is me!
– “For I lived in a night of licentiousness,
moonless and dismal love of sin.
– “Accept the fount of my tears
O Thou who draws the waters of the sea from the clouds.
– “Bow down Your ear to the sighing of my heart,
– “O You Who did bow the Heavens in Your ineffable self-emptying,
– “that I may kiss Your most pure feet
and wipe them again with the hairs of my head,
– “the feet whose step Eve once heard in Paradise in the cool of the day,
when for fear she hid herself.
– “My sins are many. And who may search the depths of Thy judgments?
– ” O Saviour of souls, my Saviour,
– “despise not Your servant “in Your limitless mercy
“.

► The extraordinary hymn of Kassia,
sung at the matins of Holy Wednesday,
is based on the above Gospel account of the sinful woman.
As Jesus is dining at the house of Simon, a Pharisee,
the sinful woman enters the house and begins anointing his feet with myrrh and tears
and wiping them with her hair.
This event, as recounted by Lucas,
takes place at the beginning of Jesus’ Public ministry,
although its commemoration has been placed
during the Bridegroom Matins of Holy Week
because of its symbolic interpretation
as a preparation for his burial.

Orthodoxy & Holy Week

Although technically,
Holy Week is separate from Great Lent,
its services mirror those of Great Lent
and are contained in the same book,
the Lenten Triodion.

Whereas, during Great Lent each week has its own theme,
during Holy Week each day has its own theme,
again based upon the Gospel readings for the day:

Holy and Great Monday
– Joseph the all-comely as a type of Christ,
and the account of The Fig Tree [Matth.21: 18-22]

Holy and Great Tuesday
– the Parable of the Ten Virgins [Matth.25: 1-13

Holy and Great Wednesday
– The anointing of Jesus at Bethany [Matth.26: 6-16

Note that for the previous three days,
“one meal a day is taken a day with xerophagy”.
[“dry eating”, from Greek ξηρός “dry” and φαγεῖν “eat”]

Holy and Great Thursday
– The Mystical Supper.
[“One meal may be eaten on this day with wine and oil“]

Holy and Great Friday
– The Passion [Matth.27: 62-66].
[“No food is to be eaten on this day“]

Holy and Great Saturday [silent Saturday]
– The Burial of Jesus and
the Harrowing of Hell [Matth.28: 1-20].
[“One meal may be eaten with wine“]

During Holy Week, the order of services is often brought forward by several hours:
Matins being celebrated by anticipation the evening before, and Vespers in the morning.
This “reversal” is not something mandated by the Typicon
but has developed out of practical necessity.
Since some of the most important readings and liturgical actions take place at Matins,
it is celebrated in the evening
[rather than early in the morning before dawn, as is usual for Matins]
so that more people can attend.
Since during Holy Week Vespers is usually joined
to either the Presanctified Liturgy or the Divine Liturgy,
and since the faithful must observe a total fast from all food
and drink before receiving Holy Communion,
it is celebrated in the morning’.
[Vespers on Good Friday is an exception to this, usually being celebrated in the afternoon]

The Matins services for Holy Monday through Thursday
are referred to as “Bridegroom Prayer” because
the Troparion of the day and the exapostilarion [the Hymn that concludes the Canon]
develop the theme of “Christ the Bridegroom”.
[Thursday has its own Troparion, but uses the same exapostilarion]
The Icon often displayed on these days
depicts Jesus and is referred to as “the Bridegroom”
because the crown of thorns and the robe of mockery
are parallel to the crown and robe worn
by a bridegroom on his wedding day.

This Icon is often confused with
the visually similar icon of Christ as the Man of Sorrows,
which shows Him post-Crucifixion in the same pose but lacking the rod and robe,
dead, showing the marks of the nails in his Hands and
the spear wound in His side.
Incidentally, Thursday has its own Icon
showing either the Mystical Supper or the Washing of Feet, or both.
The Passion of Christ is seen
as the wedding of the Saviour with his bride, the Church.

Holy Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday
Icon of Christ The Bridegroom (Ό Νυμφίος) at Golgotha in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

The first three days of Holy Week (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday),
the services all follow the same pattern and
are nearly identical to the order followed on weekdays during the Great Forty Days;
however, the number of Kathismata [sections from the Psalter] is reduced
and the Old Testament readings are taken from different books.
The Presanctified Liturgy is celebrated on each of the first three days,
and there is a Gospel reading at each one.
[during the Forty Days there was no Gospel reading unless it was a feast day]
There is also a Gospel reading at Matins on each day
and the Canon chanted at Matins is much shorter,
consisting of only three or four odes rather than the usual nine.

In addition to the Gospel readings at Matins and Vespers,
there is a reading of all four Gospels which takes place during the Little Hours
[Third Hour, Sixth Hour and Ninth Hour] on these first three days.
Each Gospel is read in its entirety and in order,
beginning with Matthew 1: 1, and continuing through John 13: 30.
[the rest of the Gospel of John will be read during the remainder of Holy Week]
The Gospels are divided up into nine sections
with one section being read by the priest at each of the Little Hours.

The Prayer of Saint Ephraïm is said for the last time at
the end of the Presanctified Liturgy on Holy and Great Wednesday.
From this moment on, there will be no more prostrations made in the church
[aside from those made before the Epitaphios] until Vespers on the afternoon of Pentecost.

In some churches, the Holy Mystery [Sacrament] of Unction is celebrated
on Holy and Great Wednesday,
in commemoration of the anointing of Jesus’ feet
in preparation for his burial [Matth.26: 6-13].

The remaining three days of Holy Week
retain a smaller degree of Lenten character,
but each has elements that are unique to it.

Holy Thursday
Holy and Great Thursday is a more festive day than the others of Holy Week
in that it celebrates the institution of the Eucharist.
The hangings in the church and the vestments of the clergy are changed from dark Lenten hues to more festive colours [red, in Russian Tradition].

Whereas the Divine Liturgy is forbidden on other Lenten weekdays,
the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil [combined with Vespers] is celebrated on this day.
Many of the standard Hymns of the Liturgy
are replaced with the Troparion of Great Thursday.
In some churches, the Holy Table [altar] is covered
with a simple white linen cloth, in commemoration of the Mystical Supper.

During this Divine Liturgy,
the reserved Mysteries are renewed.
[a new Lamb being consecrated, and the old Body and Blood of Christ being consumed by the deacon after the Liturgy]
Also, when the supply of Chrism runs low,
it is at this Liturgy that the heads of the autocephalous churches
will Sanctify new Chrism, the preparation of which
would have been begun during the All-Night Vigil on Palm Sunday.
After the Liturgy, a meal is served.
The rule of fasting is lessened somewhat
and the faithful are allowed to partake of wine
in moderation during the meal and use oil in the cooking.

That night, the hangings and vestments in the church are changed to black
and Matins for Great and Holy Friday is celebrated [12 Gospel readings, see Good Friday].

Holy Friday
Matins service, before the tomb.
Holy and Great Friday is observed as
a strict fast day,
on which the faithful who are physically able
to should not eat anything at all.
Some even fast from water, at least until after the Vespers service that evening.

The Matins service [usually celebrated Thursday night] is officially entitled,
The Office of the Holy and Redeeming Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ“,
and is commonly known as the “Matins of the Twelve Gospels”,
because interspersed throughout the service are twelve Gospel readings
which recount the entire Passion of Christ from the Last Supper to the sealing of the tomb.
Before the Sixth Gospel [Marc.15: 16-32] which first mentions the Crucifixion,
the priest carries a large Cross into the center of the church,
where it is set upright and all the faithful come forward to venerate it.
The cross has attached to it a large icon of the soma [the crucified body of Christ].

At the beginning of each Gospel,
the bell is rung according to the number of the Gospel.
[once for the first Gospel, two for the second, etc.]
As each Gospel is read the faithful stand holding lighted candles,
which are extinguished at the end of each reading.
After the twelfth Gospel, the faithful do not extinguish their candles
but leave them lit and carry the flame to their homes as a blessing.
There, they will often use the flame
to light the lampada in their icon corner.

On the morning of Great Friday, the Royal Hours are served.
This is a solemn service of the Little Hours and Typica to which antiphons,
and scripture readings have been added.
Some of the fixed Psalms which are standard
to each of the Little Hours are replaced with Psalms
which are of particular significance to the Passion.

Vespers on Good Friday is usually celebrated in the afternoon,
around the time of Jesus’ death on the Cross.
After the Little Entrance the Gospel
reading is a concatenation of the four Evangelists’ accounts of the Crucifixion
and the Descent from the Cross.
At the point during the reading which mentions Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus,
two clergymen approach the large cross in the center of the church,
remove the soma, wrap it in a piece of white linen,
and carry it into the sanctuary.

Later, during the Troparion,
the clergy carry the Epitaphios
[a cloth icon symbolizing the winding sheet in which Jesus was prepared for burial]
into the center of the church, where it is venerated by all the faithful.
Special chants and prayers and chanted
along with biblical readings and psalms chanted.

That night, the Matins of Lamentation is normally celebrated in the evening.
At this service, special Hymns and prayers are chanted.
The Lamentations of Great and Holy Friday are the main chants of the service.
The Lamentation Praises are chanted to very movingly
beautiful ancient tones and words
which reflect the lament of the Theotokos over her son Christ.
The Epitaphios is placed on a beautifully ornate
and decorate catafalque or bier
before the Lamentations representing the tomb of Christ.

The priest then sprinkles Rosewater and fresh Rose petals all over the tomb,
the congregation, and the temple/church.
A procession with the ornate tomb then takes place
around the church and back into the church where it will be venerated by everyone.
As more special prayers and chants are sung especially the chant:
The Noble Joseph…” as the service finishes.

Holy Saturday
Holy and Great Saturday
[known also as the Great Sabbath, because on it Jesus “rested” from his labours on the Cross]
combines elements of deep sorrow and exultant joy.
This, like Good Friday is also a day of strict fasting,
though a meal may be served after the Divine Liturgy
at which wine [but not oil] may be used.

The Matins of Lamentation [usually celebrated on Friday evening]
resembles the Orthodox funeral service,
in that its main component is the chanting of Psalm 118 [the longest Psalm in the Bible],
each verse of which is interspersed with laudations [ainoi] of the dead Christ.
The service takes place with the clergy and people
gathered around the epitaphios in the center of the church.
Everyone stands holding lighted candles during the Psalm.
Next are chanted the Evlogitaria of the Resurrection,
Hymns which are normally chanted only on Sundays.

This is the first liturgical mention of the impending Resurrection of Jesus.
At the end of the Great Doxology the Epitaphios is carried in procession
around the outside of the church, and then is brought back in.
As the clergy carrying the Epitaphios enter back into the church,
they raise the Epitaphios at the door, so that all may pass under it as they enter in,
symbolically entering into the Death and Resurrection of Jesus.
The Gospel [Matth.27: 62-66] is not read at its normal place during Matins,
but instead is read at the end of the service, in front of the Epitaphios.

Silent Saturday
The next morning [Saturday], the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil
is celebrated [combined with Vespers].
At the beginning of the service, the hangings and vestments are still black.
The service is much longer than usual,
and includes 15 Old Testament readings recounting the history of salvation,
including two canticles, the Song of Moses and of the Three Holy Children,
and showing types of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus.

Many parts of the Holy Liturgy
which are normally chanted in front of the Holy Doors
are instead done in front of the Epitaphios.
Just before the Gospel reading,
the hangings and vestments are changed to white,
and the entire atmosphere of the service is transformed from sorrow to joy.
In Greek practice, the priest will strew the entire church with fresh bay leaves,
symbolizing Christ’s Victory over death.
This service symbolizes the descent of Christ into Hades and the Harrowing of Hell.

Thus, according to Orthodox theology,
Jesus’ salvific work on the Cross has been accomplished,
and the righteous departed in the Bosom of Abraham
have been released from their bondage;
however, the Good News of the Resurrection has not yet been proclaimed
to the living on earth [this will occur during the Paschal Vigil].
For this reason, the faithful do not yet break their fast
nor exchange the Paschal kiss.

At the end of the Divine Liturgy,
the priest will bless wine and bread which are distributed to the faithful.
This is different from the Sacred Mysteries [Holy Communion]
which were received earlier in the service.
This bread and wine are simply blessed, not consecrated.
They are a remnant of the ancient Tradition of the Church [still observed in some places]
whereby the faithful did not leave the church after the service,
but were each given a glass of wine, and some bread and dried fruit
to give them strength for the vigil ahead.
They would listen to the reading of the Acts of the Apostles,
read in full, and await the beginning of the Paschal Vigil.
However, this is not usually done nowadays.

The last liturgical service in the Lenten Triodion is the Midnight Office
which forms the first part of the Paschal Vigil.
During this service the Canon of Great Saturday is repeated, at the end of which the priest and deacon take the Epitaphios
into the sanctuary through the Holy Doors and lay it on the Holy Table [altar],
where it will remain until the feast of the Ascension.
After the concluding prayers and a dismissal,
all of the lights and candles in the church are extinguished,
and all wait in silence and darkness for the stroke of midnight,
when the Resurrection of Christ will be proclaimed.
Then the Pentecostarion will begin.

Beginning of Holy Week – Palm Sunday, Gospel

On this Sunday we celebrate the
solemn Entry of the Lord Jesus Christ in Jerusalem.
Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.
Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honour.
Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with Him.
Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume;
she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair.
And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray Him, objected,
“Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor?
It was worth a year’s wages”.
He did not say this because he cared about the poor
but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag,
he used to help himself to what was put into it.
“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied.
“It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of My burial.
You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have Me”.
Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came,
not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead.
So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well,
for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in Him.
The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard
that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem.
They took palm branches and went out to meet Him, shouting,
“Hosanna!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the king of Israel!”.
Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written:
“Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion;
see, your King is coming,
seated on a donkey’s colt”.
At first his disciples did not understand all this.
Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize
that these things had been written about him
and that these things had been done to him.
Now the crowd that was with Him when He called Lazarus from the tomb
and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word.
Many people, because they had heard
that He had performed this sign, went out to meet Him
“.
John 12 : 1-18

During the first centuries of Christianity,
the feast of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem ‘ was celebrated along with the resurrection of Lazarus.
Later that day was brought forward a week, ie the day after the Saturday of Lazarus.

These two parties have a common theme :
The Triumph and Victory“.
According to the holy Evangelists,
Jesus sent ahead from Bethany to Jerusalem
two of his disciples ahead of him to get to go to prepare the celebration of Passover on a donkey; after they had brought him the animals entry begins in the historic city.

What the People had heard of the resurrection of Lazarus
was in response flocking to see Jesus and to welcome Him.
There had been an erroneous beliefs about the role of Christ formed.
It was thought that he would act , which would free the dynasty of the Romans
and slavery would destroy them as political leaders.

WHY the people, rein , as is often described in welcoming a king,
but watch how typical last year the Dam in Amsterdam was decorated to welcome, a new king of the Netherlands, named ‘Willem-Alexander’.
Everyone was decked out with palm branches in their hands and ran together to see Him and welcome . With green branches the whole Dam Square in Amsterdam was coloured orange.

In other places , they spread their clothes and some cut branches from the trees
and spread it on the street where Jesus would go along.
Everyone cried, “Hosanna, blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord, King of Israel“.

Note that the distance from Bethany to Jerusalem just two and a half kilometers,
as far as the Amsterdam Central Station to Dam Square.
With such ease is the World deal with the events .

During his earthly life of Jesus Christ,
the humble entry into the Holy City was the only visible sign of Triumph.
Just at the time when Jesus would avoid triumphalism and eulogies.

With the entry into Jerusalem on the back of an ASS Jesus demonstrates
humility and at the same time He realizes the Prophecy of the prophet Zechariah:
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion ,
shout, O daughter of Jerusalem,
Behold, your King cometh unto you:
He is Righteous and Victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
on a donkey foal of an ass!“.
Zechariah 9 : 9

Christ , therefore, come to Jerusalem,
Fear not, daughter of Sion:
behold , your King comes,
sitting on an ass ‘s colt“.
John 12 : 15
Israel withdraw to welcome Him. Honoured with an earthly king.
She is not interested in values ​​is not limited to a party upon temporary glory,
while His target was to free us from sin,
not of human slavery man.

Christ’s entry into Jerusalem symbolizes the qualifications
of the witness of the earthly life of our Lord.
In a few days they will testify against Him,
and He will be slain to defeat death
and to give to all mankind.
Life on the cross

Palm Sunday reminds us of honouring this sacred entry
and simultaneously reads the event in which the inhabitants of Jerusalem be identified.
We are pleased with our Lord and King, who is sung in our churches:
“Hosanna, blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord”.
With these words we confess that Christ is King and our Lord .

Too often we forget in our daily lives,
that God’s Kingdom is already installed on the earth
since the day of the Resurrection, and the day of our Baptism, this meal has accomplished .

The biblical meaning of Jerusalem is
that it is a whole history of salvation and redemption,
the Holy City is the coming of God on earth displays.
The Kingdom settled in Jerusalem
and is a global Kingdom and the Ecumenical Man embraces all creation.
This moment was the fulfilment of all the Promises that God gave to man.

The Triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem expresses an eternal sense.
It shows man in reality the Divine and Eternal Kingdom of God.

This jubilation gives meaning to the time and the ultimate and eternal purpose.
The kingdom of God is revealed to the world
as the Resurrection of Christ
and His Presence human history transforms.

By participating in the Service section of Palm Sunday
we innovate and we confess that the Kingdom of God,
an ultimate meaning and reflects the scope of our lives.

We confess that everything in our lives and the world belongs to Christ
and nothing can be taken from the unique participation
because there are no areas where Christ ruled the world .

We proclaim this way indefinite ecumenical responsibilities of each of us in human history,
which reflects the state of the universal mission of the Church.
This is so because the Church is the only sure way to Salvation
through its entire life of the Mysteries [Lat. Sacraments].

We have gone through the King why Jews were hailed at the time
and we endorse this the way we live, on the way to Calvary, to the Cross and the Grave.

We know that this short Triumph also the sacrifice of the prologue [for the final game].

The Kingdom of God is visible,
but in the human ignorance it is now around us
pretended nothing of all these shocking events occurred.
As if the God-man did not die on the Cross
and was not Resurrected from the dead.

But we Christians believe in the coming Kingdom
and constantly speak of this commitment by the confession of the Creed.
The Kingdom of God is and will always be, the Kingdom “really makes everything” [Sanctify]
and with Christ as the only King.

In the Divine Liturgy we retrieve events from the past to mind .

But the greatest significance and power of the Holy Office is the fact
that the memories conveys the present, in the face of reality.

On Palm Sunday this reality gives us the King’s participation in this event and our response.
Christ is not historically triumphantly into Jerusalem, He did this once and for all.

“Symbols ” are no longer necessary,
because he has not died on the Cross for you to inform us to “interpret” His life.
But ask us a real, genuine acceptance of Faith by paying attention to the significance of His crucifixion and Resurrection.

It is obvious to keep.
The sacred promise that we confess our baptism fixed this Palm Sunday and Passover
to renew every year.
They keep us throughout our lives God’s Kingdom rule in mind,
that is the message that the Church gives us on our way to our Father’s House,
and its true meaning to bring about.

If you really want to come to Christ [as Christians want to be],
you need to see life with its horizontal and vertical dimensions.
Only then can we understand that the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ
is the only way for all People on earth .

Apolytikion       tn 4
With You also buried in Baptism
Thou us by Thy Resurrection
eternal life bestowed
and we sing to You , Christ our God ,
and we cry
Hosanna in the highest .
Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord“.

Kondakion         tn 6
In Heaven, seated on a Throne ,
but on earth a beast of burden ,
Thou , O Christ God ,
the hymns of Angels and
accepted the song of children ,
You who shouted :
Blessed is he that cometh ,
to call Adam again“.

April 11th – Saint Antipas, Bishop of Pergamum [† 92]

Many Christian traditions believe Saint Antipas to be the Antipas referred to in the Book of Revelation.
Revelation says [as it were from the mouth of Christ,
Who says to the Angel – that is, the Bishop of the Church of Pergamom]:
I know your works, and where you live, even where Satan’s seat is;
and you hold fast My Name, and have not denied My Faith,
even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful Martyr,
who was slain among you, where Satan dwells
Rev 2: 13

According to Christian Tradition, John the Apostle ordained his disciple Antipas
as bishop of Pergamon during the reign of the Roman emperor Domitian.
The traditional account goes on to say Antipas was martyred in ca. 92 AD by burning in a brazen bull-shaped altar used for casting out demons worshiped by the local population.
There is a tradition of oil (“manna of the saints”) being secreted from the relics of Saint Antipas.
Some Christians pray to this saint for ailments of the teeth.

Dismissal Hymn              1st Tn
The celebrated hierarch and Pergamom’s first prelate,
the fellow-contestant of Martyrs and most divine myrrh-streamer,
come let the faithful honour now wise Antipas,
who truly is a great and swift healer of severely afflicted teeth
and cry to him with our whole soul,
‘Glory to Christ that has glorified you.
Glory to Him that has crowned you.
Glory to Him that works healing for all through you’
“.

Kontakion          8th Tn
To the Hierarch and renowned Great Martyr of the Lord,
to the most excellent protector of all Pergamom,
to him that cast our common foe down in ruin,
to Antipas let us sing praises as is due,
for he heals them that suffer from afflicted teeth.
Let us cry with love,
‘Rejoice, O thrice-blessed Father’
“.

Orthodox Church Patriarch visits the Netherlands

At the end of April the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Constantinople Bartholomew will make an official visit to the Old Catholic Church of the Netherlands .
The visit from 23 to 27 April 2014 is a gesture of goodwill between the two churches.
An important theme during this visit of the environmentally conscious “Green Patriarch” is the connection between the Christian faith and taking care of God’s creation. A theme to which Patriarch Bartholomew is very committed.

His All Holiness, Bartholomew, Archbishop of Constantinople,
New Rome, Ecumenical Patriarch

will be  by the King of the Netherlands ‘Willem – Alexander’ of the House of Orange.
Building on the tradition of his predecessors, the King of the Netherlands wants to be first and foremost a traditional king, who represents the continuity and stability of his country. In the 21st century he wishes to unite, represent and encourage his people as much as he can. The Old Catholic Church says that an interview is also planned with the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mr. Rutte.

On April 24 the Patriarch will be the speaker at the annual Quasimodo Lecture, held at Saint Gertrude’s Cathedral in Utrecht.
On April 26 there will be a so called ‘round table’, with discussion on sustainability and food.
Patriarch Bartholomew I is the presiding Bishop of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which includes some 250 million church members.
In recent years the patriarch has made a point of maintaining good relationships with the Pope of Rome, leader of the Roman Catholic Church.

During his visit the Patriarch of Constantinople will also visit the Orthodox parish of
◄ Saint Nicholas at Rotterdam and the Monastery of the Birth of the Theotokos in Asten, near Eindhoven.►

The Orthodox Church in the Netherlands is a small but growing community and hopes to be an example and encouragement in the midst of the weakening Christianity of our days.
Troparion of Saint Willibrord of Utrecht     4th Tn
Your works of Righteousness did reveal you
to your community as a canon of faith,
the likeness of humility
and the teacher of abstinence,
O father and great Bishop Willibrord.
Wherefore by humility
You did achieve exaltation
and by your meekness wealth;
intercede therefore with Christ
that He will save our souls“.

April 9th – Saint Monk-Martyr Bademus [Vadim, †376], Archimandrite of Persia

Saint Monk-Martyr Bademus lived in
the 4th century in the Persian city of Bethlapeta,
and was descended from a rich and illustrious family.
In his youth, he was enlightened with the Christian teaching.
The Saint gave away all his wealth to the poor
and withdrew into the wilderness,
where he founded a Monastery.
He would go up on a mountain for solitary prayer
and once was permitted to behold
the Glory of God.

During this period the Persian emperor Sapor [310 – 381] began to persecute Christians.
They arrested Saint Bademus and his seven disciples and tortured them in prison, hoping that they would renounce Christ and worship the sun and fire.
But Saint Bademus and his disciples held firmly to the Christian Faith.
The confessors spent four months in jail.
One of the associates of the emperor Sapor, Nirsanes,
was a Christian and suffered imprisonment for this.
He did not hold up under torture and denied Christ,
promising to fulfil whatever the emperor commanded.
Sapor demanded that Nirsanes personally cut off the head of Saint Bademus.
For this he was promised a reprieve and great rewards.
Nirsanes was not able to overcome his fear of new tortures
and he agreed to follow the path of betrayal walked by Judas.

When they brought Saint Bademus to him,
he took the sword and turned toward him,
but overcome by conscience, he trembled and stood petrified.
Saint Bademus said to him,
Has your wickedness now reached this point, Nirsanes,
that you should not only renounce God, but also murder His servants?
Woe to you, accursed one!
What will you do on that day when you stand before the Dread Judgment Seat?
What answer will you give to God?
I am prepared to die for Christ,
but I don’t want to receive death at your hands
“.

Nirsanes struck with the sword, but his hands shook
and he could not behead the Saint immediately
and the fire-worshippers began to call him a coward.
The holy Martyr Bademus stood motionless,
enduring many terrible blows,
until the murderer succeeded in cutting off his head.

The just punishment for his misdeeds were not slow in overtaking the hapless fellow.
Tormented by his conscience, he did away with himself, throwing himself on a sword.
After the death of the emperor Sapor,
the seven disciples of Saint Bademus were released from prison.
Saint Bademus is the patron saint of all those
who were baptized with the name Vadim.

6th week of Lent ending with Saturday of Lazaros & Palm Sunday

Great Lent ends at Vespers on
the evening of the Sixth Friday,
and the Lenten cycle of Old Testament readings is brought to an end
[Genesis ends with the account of the burial of Joseph, who is a type of Christ].
At that same service, the celebration of Lazarus Saturday begins.


The resurrection of Lazarus is understood as
a foreshadowing of the Resurrection of Jesus,
and many of the Resurrection hymns
normally chanted on Sunday
[and which will be replaced the next day with hymns for Palm Sunday] are chanted at Matins
on the morning of Lazarus Saturday.

Palm Sunday differs from the previous Sundays
in that it is one of the Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church.
None of the normal Lenten material is chanted on Palm Sunday, and fish, wine and oil are permitted in the Trapeza.
The blessing of Palms [or pussywillow] takes place at Matins on Sunday morning,
and everyone stands holding palms
and lit candles during the important moments of the service.

This is especially significant at the Great Entrance
during the Divine Liturgy on Palm Sunday morning,
since liturgically that entrance recreates the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.
The themes of Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday are tied together,
and some of the same hymns [including one of the Apolytikia] are chanted on both days.

When we were baptized, we were baptized into Christ’s death.
How often have you heard that idea? It is such a strange idea to modern mind.
Let’s leave aside for a moment the adults who come for baptism.
Let us, rather, call to mind all those young couples who come so gladly to the font,
bringing with them their new born and for what?
To have their children baptized into someone’s death!
The mind recoils in horror.
Surely, our modern sensibilities suspect something very strange in this idea,
something primitive, even something morbid.
Yet that is what happened to us when were went down into the waters.
Apostle Paul tells us so himself:
Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized
into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
Therefore we were buried with Him in baptism into death,
that just as Christ was raised from the dead
by the Glory of the Father,
even so we should walk in newness of life
“.
Rom.6: 3-4

What a paradox we find here:
the modern mind, the worldly, secular mind; the very mind
which demands ready abortion for the unwanted;
easy death for those no longer valued;
perfect embryos, disposing of the surplus,
that very mind, terrified of and wanting to deny that we die,
hides behind its own artificial forms of life
until our very humanity is abolished.
Devilish work indeed!
Such a mind, fixed upon hedonism, comfort and the pursuit of self-gratification
wants nothing to do, indeed,
wants to know nothing about sacrifice
and dying and self-mortification.

But if we who are in Christ know anything at all,
it is this:
that we have entered intoHhis Death.
As the expression goes:
‘been there; done that; bought the tee-shirt!’
Yes, we shall all die, if we are talking of that
biological event,
that breakdown of our physical form but of death itself?
What of the real death beyond the separation of the soul from the body?
Where is our fear? For we have died already.
Mystically, spiritually, that is to say, in reality, we have already died.
Our bodies went down into the water but our souls went down with Christ into Hades.
That Mystery, that Pearl of great Price is now buried within our hearts
– no wonder we want that for our children as well as ourselves.
But what is the point of the blessed Apostle’s assertion
that we were baptized into a death?
So we should walk in newness of life“.
► That is the point; ► that is our struggle.
► That has been the very point of the Great and Holy Week,
that we become now and forever
what we became at our baptism: New People!

Without this day, the Great Sabbath,
the day Christ both rested in the tomb in His Body whilst His Soul was in Hades,
proclaiming the Gospel to the dead – without this day there is no such thing as baptism.
The whole point of this day is
that Christ has fulfilled the old Mosaic Passover.
He has gone through not the Red Sea as the children of Israel but the Great Sea of Death.
And He has done this as our Pioneer,
blazing the trail for us who follow Him.
For those who deny this, for the rest of the world, those without this faith, all they can do is walk to their inevitable end, like people with their eyes tight shut, walking towards the precipice.
They are already dying
but we have been reborn into Life.
We are a New People:
that is why we cannot live like the rest and
join them on their stumbling over the edge.

If you have been at the services during Holy Week,
if you have listened attentively to the readings,
you might have noticed two general themes:
Yes, indeed, the Resurrection, of course
but also the Parousia, the Second Coming of Christ,
this time in Glory.
The Parousia is the final intent and purpose in the mind of God
whereby all things in this life will be brought to their End.
This end is not the final running out of steam,
a mere conclusion in the sense of being no more.
Rather, ‘End’ here means the very purpose
and goal of the whole Divine Dispensation.
Like the end of a race,
the aim is not just to stop running
but to win.

The western liturgical tradition fixes this eschatology,
this Mystery of the end times, during Advent, just before the Nativity.
But we, Orthodox, place it here and now.
Particularly if you came to the Bridegroom Services,
the Orthros of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday during this Great Week,
you will have been with Christ Who comes as a Bridegroom in the ancient world,
coming in the night to the wedding feast and the consummation of the marriage.
This intriguing mixture of Pascha with the Parousia, the Resurrection and the End,
suggests that the Raising of Christ from the dead is God’s final and very clear statement to mankind,
His Creature; His final Revelation before the End.
All that is left is for time to run its course in God’s good time, whilst to know the Resurrection is actually to arrive at the end,
that is, the very purpose of all things.
We were reborn for this; we joined Christ in his death for this.
This is our Destiny.

Today the Church has become the cave where they laid Him.
Here He rests and in resting the Mosaic laws comes to its end and goal.
Where of old God gave the last day of the week, the Saturday as a day of rest,
Christ has now kept the perfect Sabbath rest and fulfilled the Commandment.
Where before, Images were forbidden, now God has set before us an Image,
His very Self in a human Face; where once they were told of old,
do not steal, God has come like a thief in the night and robbed Satan of his kingdom,
despoiling him of souls held in bondage, harrowing hell
and Raising up those who had fallen.
For where the Law came through Moses,
Grace and Truth have come through Jesus Christ.

Every time we serve this Communion Sacrifice,
we, the New Israel, His Church,
manifest liturgically on earth
an Image of the Heavenly Realities.
Each service holds within it, Mystically,
the very Purpose and End of our human existence:
Resurrection in Christ.
Isaac was the Prototype,
redeemed from death by a ram.
Christ is the first fruits of the reality,
Who offered up his life-blood,
just as the lambs of the First [Old] Covenant were being slaughtered
in the Temple on the Day of Preparation.
Then He rose again when the Sabbath was over;
Rising on the first day of the week, the Lord’s Day, the first day of the New Creation.
We are that New Creation of His, Created at our Baptism.
So that, where the world sees only death,
we see Newness of Life; where the outsiders pass by a tomb,
we behold the Marriage Chamber.
So it is that the Priest, preparing to offer the Anaphora
and laying the Sacred Vessels on the Holy Table,
says each time,:
As life-bearing, as more splendid than Paradise
and more radiant than any Royal Chamber,
O Christ, is shown forth Your Tomb,
the fountain of our Resurrection“.

We have indeed ‘been there
– we were baptized into Christ’s death; we have “done that
– we have died already;
we have even “bought the tee-shirt
– for as St. Paul says,
As many as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ“.