Mid-Pinksteren – Laat uw Kruis een Staf zijn

Uw kudde heeft de wolven gezien,
en zie! zij roepen het uit.
Ziet toch hoe bang zij zijn!
Laat Uw Kruis een Staf zijn,
hen uit drijven
die hen zouden verslinden!
H. Ephraïm de Syriër, uit de “Nisiben Hymnen” IV

De verzen in de dienst van vandaag zijn overvloedig gevuld
met bijbelse toespelingen, welke de heilige vaders hierin hebben doorgevoerd.
Wanneer gij vóór Uw Kostbaar Kruis en Uw Lijden Uw roemrijke wonderen voltooid had, zijt Gij verschenen op het Midden van het Feest de Wet,
om allen te roepen”:
Σταυρὸν καὶ θάνατον , παθεῖν ἑλόμενος.
Een taal van Iemand Die ontwapend, zoals we verderop zulle zien.

In het midden van de Schepping“,
wordt de Boom van het Kruis gekoppeld aan de Boom des Levens
in het midden van het Paradijs.
de Heer, onze God deed allerlei geboomte uit de aardbodem opschieten,
begeerlijk om te zien en goed om van te eten;
en de boom des levens in het midden van de hof,
benevens de boom der
kennis van goed en kwaad“.
Gen.2: 9

De parallel tussen de twee bomen is een populaire Patristische meditatie .
De boom des levens , die werd geplant door God in het paradijs gaf vooraf dit kostbaar en levenschenkende Kruis aan.
Want omdat de dood door een boom werd veroorzaakt,
achtte Hij passend dat het Leven en de Opstanding
door een boom geschonken diende te worden.
H. Johannes Damascinos [† 749 ], uit: “Een uiteenzetting van het Orthodoxe geloof“.

Daar nu de kinderen aan bloed en vlees deel hebben,
heeft ook Hij op gelijke wijze daaraan deel
gekregen, opdat Hij door zijn dood hem, die de
macht over de dood had, de duivel, zou onttronen“.
Hebr.2: 14
Ook u heeft Hij, hoewel gij dood waart door uw overtredingen en onbesneden zijn naar het vlees, levend gemaakt met Hem, toen Hij ons al onze overtredingen kwijtschold,
door het bewijsstuk uit te wissen, dat door zijn inzettingen tegen ons getuigde en ons bedreigde.
En dat heeft Hij weggedaan door het aan het kruis te nagelen:
Hij heeft de overheden en machten ontwapend en openlijk tentoongesteld en zo over hen gezegevierd“.
Col.2: 13-15

De H. Gregorius van Nyssa schreef over de aanvallen en suggesties van de vijand:
WANNEER we ons bewust worden van de aanvallen van de tegenstrever,
dienen we de apostolische woorden in onszelf te blijven herhalen:
Wij allen, die in Christus zijn gedoopt, zijn in Zijn dood gedoopt“.
Rom.6: 3
Als wij nu dan deel hebben aan Zijn dood, is de zonde in ons voortaan zeker gedood [ontbonden],  welke doorboord is door de speer van het Heilig Doopsel .
uit: “Over het doopsel in Christus“.

Onze HEER zal echter de Toevlucht zijn van Zijn Volk
en de Sterkte van de kinderen van Israël.
En het was reeds ongeveer het zesde uur en
er kwam duisternis over het gehele land tot het negende uur,
want de zon werd verduisterd.
En het voorhangsel van de tempel scheurde middendoor.
En Jezus riep met luider stem:
Vader, in uw handen beveel Ik mijn geest.
En toen Hij dat gezegd
had, gaf Hij de geest“.
Luc.23: 44-46

Dit is een aanwijzing van het besluit – in de tijd, en ook van de Hoop en de Genade,
zoals wij zien bij de profetie van Joël:
Menigten, menigten in het dal der beslissing,
want nabij is de dag des Heren in het dal der beslissing.
De zon en de maan worden zwart en de sterren trekken haar glans in.
En de Heer brult uit Sion en verheft zijn stem uit Jeruzalem,
zodat hemel en aarde beven.
Maar de Heer is een schuilplaats voor zijn volk en
een veste voor de kinderen van Israel
Joel 3: 14-16 . 

Zie eveneens:
“Terstond na de verdrukking dier dagen zal de zon verduisterd worden en
de maan zal haar glans niet geven en de sterren zullen van de hemel vallen en
de machten der hemelen zullen wankelen”.
Matth.24: 29
En Jezus riep wederom met luider stem en gaf de geest.
En zie, het voorhangsel van de tempel scheurde van boven tot beneden in tweeën, en
de aarde beefde, en de rotsen scheurden en
de graven gingen open en vele lichamen der ontslapen heiligen werden opgewekt.
En zij gingen uit de graven na zijn opstanding en
kwamen in de heilige stad waar zij aan velen verschenen“.
Matth. 27:50-53 .

Een der gehangen misdadigers lasterde Hem: Zijt Gij niet de Christus? Red Uzelf en ons!
Maar de andere antwoordde en zeide, hem bestraffende:
Vreest zelfs gij God niet, nu gij hetzelfde vonnis ontvangen hebt?
En wij terecht, want wij ontvangen vergelding, naar wat wij gedaan hebben, maar deze heeft niets onbehoorlijks gedaan.
En hij zei: Jezus, gedenk mijner, wanneer Gij in uw Koninkrijk komt.
En Jezus zei tot hem: Voorwaar, Ik zeg u, heden zult gij met Mij in het Paradijs zijn“.
Luc.23: 39-43

Wij herinneren ons deze woorden uit het gebed ter voorbereiding aan de communie.
Zoon van God, neem mij heden op als deelgenoot van Uw Mystiek Avondmaal.
Want Uw vijanden zal ik voorzeker niet over dit Mysterie spreken.
Ik zal U geen kus geven zolas Judas;
maar evenals de Rover belijd ik mijn geloof in U:
gedenk mij, o Heer, in Uw Koninkrijk.
Heer, moge het deelnemen aan Uw heilige Mysteriën
mij niet worden tot een oordeel of tot verderf,
maar tot genezing van mijn ziel en van mijn lichaam
“.

**
Stavrotheotokion
In het Kruis van Uw Zoon, o Moeder Gods,
bezit Gij een Staf van geweldige kracht;
versla daarmee de woedende vijandschap en
bescherm hen die U met Liefde vereren.
Uit de Metten van de vrijdag van Mid-Pinksteren

4e Zondag na Pascha – de Zondag van de Verlamde

Heer, ik heb geen mens om mij,
in het bad te helpen zodra er beweging komt in het water;
en terwijl ik mezelf er heen sleep,
gaat een ander er vóór mij in
“.
John.5: 1-15

Deze zondag is het in de Kerk de zondag van de verlamde,
waarbij het Evangelie van vandaag verwijst naar de wonderbaarlijke genezing
door onze Heer Jezus Christus aan de badinrichting van Bethesda met de vijf zuilengangen,
in Jerusalem bij de schaapspoort.

Johannes de evangelist vertelt ons
dat op deze bijzondere dag Jezus
[misschien was het wel het feest van Pinksteren] een bezoek bracht aan de stad Jerusalem.
Een van de plekken, die Hij daar bezocht was het badinrichting [Bethesda], die
vijf grote zuilengangen, of portieken had.
Het zwembad was gelegen buiten de muren van Jeruzalem.
De Hebreeuwse naam betekent “Huis van Genade”.
Het werd zo genoemd omdat,
zoals het Evangelie ons informeert, daar altijd een groot aantal ongelukkige mensen waren, zoals kreupelen, doven, blinden en ziek waar de doktoren geen raad mee wisten.
Op bepaalde tijden zou er, zo was onder hen bekend, een engel naar het zwembad komen die het water met kleine golven in beweging bracht.
Wanneer dit gebeurde, zou de éérste persoon die in het water belandde van welke kwaal dan ook genezen worden.
Natuurlijk tart zo’n wonder elke uitleg van de wetenschap, net zoals dat bij wonderen die in onze tijd voorkomen. Hoewel we deze wonderen niet kunnen verklaren, geloven we er toch in, tegen elke [medische] wetenschap in.

Wanneer er nu in Bethesda iemand zo slim was geweest een register van soorten wonderen bij te houden, dan zouden we daarin tegenkomen dat de man van ons Evangelie van vanmorgen
daar al langer dan 38 jaar had gelegen.
De beste jaren van zijn jeugd had hij daar doorgebracht, wachtend op de rimpeling van het water in het zwembad.
Maar hij had niemand – geen ouders, geen familie, geen vrienden, die hem zouden kunnen bijstaan. Iedereen bij Bethesda was bezig met zijn eigen problemen; zijn eigen zaken bezig – op zich een goede zaak, maar er is nu eenmaal meer in de wereld, met name die van de zorg voor de gehandicapten.
Dus, deze geschiedenis was altijd maar weer hetzelfde, jaar in jaar uit. Er veranderde niets aan de situatie van deze eenzame behoeftige.
Het water zou in beweging gebracht worden en vóór de lamme er kon komen was er een gehandicapte die maar nèt bij het zwembad lag of die was hem weer voor geweest.
Stel je voor, je hebt 38 lange jaren niet gelachen, geen vriendschap ontmoet, zonder enige vreugde, en je bent zeker naar het einde toe zonder enige hoop op verbetering.

Op een dag hoort die kreupele Iemand die tot hem sprak. Dat was op zich al vreemd.
Niemand sprak met hem, iedereen ging hem uit de weg, hij werd met de nek aangekeken,
behoorde tot de verstotenen [weggepest!].
Het moet de man wel eventjes gekost hebben om te beseffen dat Jezus van Nazareth,
een gesprek met hem aanknoopte.
Het is  dan ook zeer waarschijnlijk dat hij niet eens wist wie Jezus was.
Jezus vroeg de verschoppeling, “Wilt je gezond worden?”
Wat een vraag, na 38 jaar eenzaam lijden.
Toch legt de man geduldig aan de Zoon van God uit, waarom hij het was die zich onmogelijk van zijn verlamming kon ontdoen.
Hij had niemand – niemand in de wereld die om hem gaf.
Het is niet erg prettig alleen op de wereld te zijn, of niet soms?
Niemand die zich iets van je aantrekt. Om je geeft, niemand die je bijstaat om je te helpen
– de wereld kan er behoorlijk angstig uitzien als je helemaal op je zelf bent aangewezen.
Stel je de reactie van de man voor toen Jezus tot hem zei: ” Sta op”.
Ja, sta op! Probeerde hij soms meedogenloos te zijn? Heeft Hij er lol in om kreupelen te kwellen?
Maar wacht ! Die ogen ! Die medelevende stem !
Hij geeft om mij! Hij heeft met mij van doen!
De man sprong overeind en werd direct door de mens-geworden Zoon van God genezen .

De wereld is in al die 2000 jaar nog geen sikkepitje veranderd.
Dat wil zeggen de mensen hebben totaal niets bijgeleerd er is wat dat betreft niets veranderd.
Iedereen is met zijn eigen sores bezig, z’n eigen huisje boompje, beestje.
In veel opzichten is de wereld een veel eenzamere plek geworden om te wonen
dan het in de tijd van Christus was.
Kijk maar naar de vijf grote gemeenten in ons land, naar plekken als Hoog-Catharijne.
Het krioelt er van de mensen die zelfs op zondag druk doende zijn in een klein gebied.
En toch zijn de mensen – velen van hen – vreselijk eenzaam, die haastige blik in hun ogen – kopen, kopen, en weer werken om te kopen.         En dat niet alleen in onze steden, maar ook elders in de wereld.
Er zijn massa’s mensen in de wereld van vandaag die wanhopig, stilletjes uitroepen:
ik heb niemand – niemand om mij te helpen“!
Mensen in oorlogsgebieden, vluchtelingen, gehandicapten en bejaarden,
die in eenzaamheid lijden en niet weten waar ze het zoeken moeten.
Het enige wat over blijft is hun ogen naar de Hemel op te slaan,
daar waar Verlossing wacht.

We beschikken heden ten dage over een heleboel dingen waar ze in Jezus’ dagen nog niet van konden dromen: enorme ziekenhuizen, opgeleide specialisten, [sociale] verzekeringen en de Kerk
– en de aan de overheid gerelateerde opvoedings- en welzijnsprogramma’s.
Maar voor de menselijke eenzaamheid bestaat geen genezing, of wel soms.
We houden er niet van om met de problemen van anderen opgezadeld te worden.
Er is een Grieks spreekwoord dat zegt: “Verwijder het kwaad => uit mijn ogen“.
We willen onaangenaamheden vergeten. Lijdende mensen ergeren ons – wij van wie verondersteld wordt [Orthodoxe] Christenen te zijn.
En misschien zijn wij die de geestelijke weg gaan wel meer schuldig dan die anderen, die ”ongelovig” zijn.

Het is Christus dringende oproep en de plicht van de Kerk om deze eenzame, lijdende mensen op te zoeken.  Hen de Liefde van Christus te tonen en hen onze liefde te brengen
– niet ons medelijden, met een meewarige blik, maar onze echte liefde, met zorg en aandacht.
Op de een of andere manier is er voor ons altijd een mogelijkheid open, waarop deze randfiguren van onze samenleving geholpen kunnen worden.

Het goede nieuws van dit moment is dat iedereen wel zo iemand in zijn omgeving heeft;
je moet het alleen maar zien, je er constant van bewust zijn.
De Heer Jezus Christus stierf voor onze zonden. Hij stierf voor vele zonden.
Hij is voor de zonden van alle mensen gestorven.
En Hij heeft ons lief met een Goddelijke Liefde die we onmogelijk kunnen begrijpen.
Dit dient ons geloof, onze overtuiging, onze boodschap van verzoening te zijn,
die we aan de gehele wereld dienen uit te dragen,
te beginnen met degenen die bij je om de hoek wonen.
En God zal ons bijstaan om dit te doen.

2e Zondag na Pascha – Thomaszondag

Zalig zij
die niet gezien hebben en
toch geloven!“.
Joh.20: 29

De Zoon van God werd mens, opdat de mens zich zou vergoddelijken.
Door Zijn offer aan het Groot en Heilig Kruis heeft de Heer en zaligmaker
de menselijke natuur gereinigd en
door Zijn dood stelde Hij de mens
in de gelegenheid gered en geheiligd te worden in Zijn Νaam.
Een waarachtig en oprecht geloof in Jezus Christus leidt tot verlossing.
Onze Heer Zelf leert ons:
Ik ben het Licht der wereld;
wie Mij volgt, zal nimmer in duisternis wandelen,
maar hij zal het licht des levens hebben
“.
Joh.8: 12
In een ander vers zegt Hij:
” Voorwaar, voorwaar, Ik zeg u:
Wie gelooft, heeft eeuwig leven”.
Joh.6 : 47
Christus is het Licht van de wereld;
Hij is het herkenningspunt, Welk ons leidt tot heiliging.
Door de Heilige Doop participeren we in beide,
de dood en de Opstanding van Jezus Christus . . .
Paulus leert ons, zeggend:
Weet ge niet dat wij allen,
die in Christus Jezus gedoopt zijn,
in Zijn dood gedoopt zijn?
Wij zijn dan met Hem begraven door de doop in de dood,
opdat, gelijk Christus uit de doden is opgewekt door de Majesteit van de Vader,
zo ook zouden wij in nieuwheid van het leven wandelen.
Want indien wij samengegroeid zijn met hetgeen gelijk is aan Zijn dood,
zullen wij het ook zijn [met hetgeen gelijk is] aan Zijn Opstanding;
dit weten wij immers, dat onze oude mens is mede-gekruisigd,
opdat aan het lichaam van de zonde zijn kracht ontnomen zou worden en
wij niet langer slaven der zonde zouden zijn;
want wie gestorven is, is rechtens vrij van de zonde.
Indien wij dan met Christus gestorven zijn, geloven wij,
dat wij ook met Hem zullen leven,
daar wij weten, dat Christus, nu Hij uit de doden is opgewekt, niet meer sterft:
de dood voert geen heerschappij meer over Hem.
Want wat Zijn dood betreft, is Hij voor de zonde eens voor altijd gestorven
wat zijn leven betreft, leeft Hij voor God.
Zo moet het ook voor u vaststaan, dat gij wel dood zijt voor de zonde,
maar levend voor God in Christus Jezus
“.
Rom.6: 3-11

Deze deelname in de Passie en Verrijzenis van Onze Heer geeft ons de mogelijkheid om
kinderen van God” [Rom. 8: 14] en  “erfgenamen van Zijn Κoninkrijk” [Gal.3: 29] te worden.
Het is heel belangrijk om te beseffen dat bij het eerste verschijning van onze Heer,
aan Zijn discipelen na zijn opstanding, de Heilige Thomas niet aanwezig was.
Toen de tien apostelen hem met enthousiasme vertelden dat ze “de Heer” [Joh.20: 25]
hadden gezien, antwoordde hij :
Indien ik in zijn handen niet zie het teken der nagels en
mijn vinger niet steek in de plaats der nagels en
mijn hand niet steek in zijn zijde,
zal ik geenszins geloven
“.
Joh.20: 25
Deze gemoedstoestand van de ongelovige Thomas
was geen kwaadaardig ongeloof,
maar een deel van de economie van God.
God wilde voor ons aantonen
dat onze Heer waarlijk is opgestaan ​​en
dat Hij niet is verschenen als een spook of gewoon als een verzinsel van hun verbeelding.
Om deze reden verscheen onze Heer na acht dagen opnieuw aan Zijn discipelen,
dit keer in aanwezigheid van Thomas en zei tegen hem:
Breng uw vinger hier en zie mijn handen en
breng uw hand en steek die in mijn zijde en
wees niet ongelovig, maar gelovig“.
Joh.20: 27

Dit voorzienige ongeloof van de Heilige Thomas
was de grondslag voor het bewijs dat onze Heer daadwerkelijk uit de doden was opgestaan​​.
Thomas voelde de wonden welke door de nagels waren veroorzaakt en
legde zijn hand in de zijde van Onze Lieve Heer.
Hij voelde Christus ‘vlees’, het warme bloed van Zijn wonden en
met ter bevestiging riep hij uit:
Mijn Heer en mijn God“.
Joh.20: 28

Ιn het Evangelie van Lucas zien we dat onze Heer zijn leerlingen zichzelf uitnodigt
te bewijzen dat Hij werkelijk is opgestaan ​​en is geen geest
wanneer Hij tot hen zegt:
Waarom zijt gij ontsteld en waarom komen er overwegingen op in uw hart?
Ziet mijn handen en mijn voeten, dat Ik het zelf ben;
betast Mij en ziet, dat een geest geen vlees en beenderen heeft,
zoals gij ziet, dat Ik heb.
En bij dit woord toonde Hij hun zijn handen en voeten.
En toen zij het van blijdschap nog niet geloofden en zich verwonderden,
zei Hij tot hen:
Hebt gij hier iets te eten?
Zij reikten Hem een stuk van een gebakken vis toe.
En Hij nam het en at het voor hun ogen
“.
Luc.24:38-43
Na Zijn opstanding bezat onze Heer
een lichamelijk ‘nieuwe’ hoedanigheid.
Bijvoorbeeld, Hij kon verschijnen wanneer en waar Hij Zich ook bevond
en had geen fysieke barrières, zoals deuren en muren,
en zijn er niet langer obstakels vanwege Zijn vrijheid van beweging.
Veel Christenen willen vandaag de dag al weten wat voor soort lichaam
zij zullen hebben na de algemene opstanding van de doden
en welke leeftijd ze zullen hebben?
Het antwoord op deze vragen is:
• Ten eerste , dat wanneer we opstaan​​,
we hetzelfde lichaam zullen bezitten welke we vóór onze dood al hadden,
maar dat dit nieuwe en eeuwige eigenschappen zal hebben.
Zo zullen we geen behoefte hebben aan voedsel of andere dagelijkse behoeften,
maar zullen we zijn als de engelen God’s [Matth.22: 30].
We zullen eeuwig geluk of eeuwige pijn ondervinden,
afhankelijk van of we gered of verdoemd zijn [Matth.25: 46].
• Ten tweede, zullen we allemaal dezelfde leeftijd ondervinden en op hetzelfde moment zijn we allemaal  een nieuw leven begonnen [1Thess.4: 14-17].
We zullen elkaar herkennen en onze vreugde en blijdschap zal helderder voorkomen dan de materiële zon die in deze materiële wereld schijnt.
Het is erg moeilijk te omschrijven welke condities we in de eeuwigheid zullen bezitten,
omdat we alleen de ervaring van dit leven bezitten om vergelijkingen te trekken en
tussen de twee is er geen overeenkomst bestaat [2Cοr.12: 4].

Dit nieuwe leven begint in dit leven.
Ons geloof in de Opstanding van onze Heer moeten worden ge- en beleefd.
In onze dagelijks leven ondanks al haar problemen,
dienen we de dood en Opstanding van onze Heer te leven,
ons kruis te dragen, ons geloof en vertrouwen te verstevigen
waarmee we al onze problemen zullen aankunnen en overleven
en door Zijn genade zullen we tot een nieuw leven komen.
We dienen nooit voorbij te gaan aan het gegeven dat aan de Opstanding,
een kruisiging voorafgaat, dit is niet te vermijden.
– Christus is opgestaan, Hij is verrezen en
de gehele menselijke natuur zal weer tot het ware, oorspronkelijke doel van haar bestaan worden teruggebracht​​, het Paradijs – het Hemels Koninkrijk.
– Christus is verrezen, Hij is opgestaan en
alle krachten van het kwaad zullen worden overwonnen.
– Christus is verrezen, Hij is opgestaan en
de mens zal van de aarde naar Hemelen worden verheven.
Als getrouwe kinderen van de Orthodoxie, hebben wij de plicht
om deze triomfantelijke boodschap bekend te maken aan alle mensen van de wereld
– dat Christus is opgestaan ​​en de mensheid door Zijn Genadegaven zal worden gered.

Christus verrezen uit de doden;
door zijn dood overwon Hij de dood,
aan allen in de graven schonk Hij het leven“!

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 !!! 

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Orthodoxy & avoiding to fall as a prey to demons

Beware me for idleness“,
Saint Ephraïm the Syrian warns the hermits, for
without it a monk cannot fall
into the hands of those who strive to enslave him
“.
Saint Ephraïm warns hermits not to neglect psalmody nor prayer because in abandoning them,
the solitary opens a door to the demons.

Idleness is inactivity, as a Christian we have to be active.
The Judgement of God comes upon us not because we have neglected spiritual discipline,
as though God punishes us for legal omissions,
failing to accomplish our duty or
incorrect use of our resources;
but rather the judgement of God comes upon us through the torment of demons
because we ourselves have opened the door to them.
The spiritual disciplines help us shut the door;
without spiritual disciplines, our wandering mind, roaming lusts,
hidden fears and latent self-importance emerge, prying open the door
for the tormenting demons to enter.

“It is written,” Saint Ephraïm says,
He who is not subject to the will of God, is subject to his adversary“.
Spiritual disciplines are the primary way
we subject ourselves to the will of God.
For those in the Monastic life and especially for solitaries, those disciplines are all-consuming activities of prayer, reading, and work.
• But for us in the world, the spiritual disciples relate to our neighbour:
Love your neighbour, don’t kill him by words or behaviour,
don’t commit adultery, corrupt behaviour,
be kind, be content with what you have,
be generous to others, don’t judge, backbiting [slander],
weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.

I imagine some of my readers are wondering:
Are these spiritual disciplines?
Yes. These are par excellence spiritual disciplines.
When we struggle to be kind or generous or content, we are struggling to be like Christ
and the door through which tormenting demons enter is pressed firmly shut.

Of course what we find out right away
when we seriously embark on the spiritual life
in the world is
that we fail miserably at keeping the spiritual disciplines that Christ and the Apostles commanded.
We find out right away that we cannot easily be kind,
even when we want to be kind
—> and then there are the many times
we don’t want to be kind!
We find out right away that within ourselves,
within the resources of our own will and desire,
we do not have what it takes
to practice the spiritual disciplines.
And because we fail to practice the disciplines,
the tormenting demons attack us
—> the door of our mind being left wide open for them.

Yet, it is the very suffering caused by the demons, the guilt, the confusion, the anger, the lustful passion, it is this very suffering that drives us to God in prayer.
It is our awareness of our great need
that turns us to God again and again for help.
But how do we pray?

Certainly, “Help, my Lord and my God!
is a good start.
However, in the same way that one might use home remedies for a minor cold or to mend a scratched knee,
yet will go to an expert in medicine for a serious condition;
so also in our spiritual life we go to the doctors,
the men and women who have spent a lifetime learning prayer.
We go to the Monastics,
and particularly to those Monastics [or Monastic Writings]
that have proven over time to be reliable
and helpful in producing the fruit of the Holy Spirit
in those who have heeded their advice.

– Remember, the goal is not to pray like a monk
while living in the world.
– The goal is to Love our neighbour as Christ
while we live in the world.
– Prayer rules and techniques are the means,
the means to transformation
so that we will be filled with the Holy Spirit
and show forth the love and life of Christ.
– We shut the door to the demons
and avoid God’s Judgment by actively pursuing the spiritual life.

This pursuit requires repentance and our own healing
and manifests itself in love of God and neighbour.
Prayer is a part of this, an essential part
—> I might even say an integral part of our pursuit of God
and of our shutting the door to the demons that torment us.
• But he who says the most prayers is not necessarily
[and not probably in my experience] the one
who is experiencing the most success
in the spiritual life in the world.
– The one who is succeeding in the spiritual life
is the one who is learning Love the unlovely,
– who is looking for opportunities to be generous to those who ask,
– who tries to shut down judgemental thoughts, and
– who is practicing kindness and mercy
even when he or she doesn’t feel like it.

Such a one will be heeding
the advice of Saint Ephraïm,
avoiding spiritual idleness
and therefore not becoming the prey
of his spiritual adversary.

5th Sunday of Lent – restored by the Blood of Christ

But when Christ came as High Priest of the good things
that are now already here,
He went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands,
that is to say, is not a part of this Creation.
He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves;  but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood,
thus obtaining Eternal Redemption.
The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer
sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean
sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean.
How much more, then, will the Blood of Christ,
Who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death,
so that we may serve the living God!“.
Hebr.9: 11-14

The Blood of Christ, Who through the eternal Spirit
offered himself unblemished to God,
cleanse our consciences
from acts that lead to death,
so that we may serve the living God!
“.

Everyone has a conscience.
It affects the way we think and live.
Just listen to people talk, hear their excuses for actions
and observe the plastic looks portrayed.
The conscience has a bearing on every action, work, and relationship.
Many marriages are wrecked over guilty consciences.
Children often rebel due to guilty consciences.
It even determines how we approach God.

The very idea of a sinful person approaching a holy God unnerves a thinking person.
A conscience imprisoned by guilt
enslaves a person in his Worship,
Service, Prayer, Witness, and Affections.

What is this conscience?
The conscience is properly man’s inner knowledge of himself,
especially in the sense of his answerability for his motives
and actions in view of the fact that he,
as a creature made in the image of God,
stands before and must give an account of himself to his Creator

Inner knowledge of yourself” implies that the searchlights of the soul
peer into the caverns of the mind, discovering decaying bones and stolen treasures
hidden by a bent toward sin.
A man might live with decaying bones and hidden treasures
if he never had to give an answer for them.
But the Creator Who gave life and the conscience to those
who share in his image, also demands an accounting.

While it would appear that a guilty conscience would drive a man to God,
often the very opposite happens due to the grip of lost-ness upon the soul.
Men will try everything imaginable to relieve or avoid or stuff guilt.
Paul explains that when a man rejects the revelation God has given in the conscience
then he becomes hardened toward God and softened toward idolatrous and sinful behaviour.
[cf. Rom.1: 18-32]
In the end temporary measures to salve guilt are only that-temporary
and offer nothing of eternal value
that can give a person a right standing with God.
To pursue creative means of dealing with the conscience
is akin to grabbing after the wind.
Ultimately such pursuits are elusive and empty.
But God has made provision for sinful men
to have clean consciences before Him.

The first century audience receiving
the Epistle to the Hebrews
struggled over dealing with their guilt.
Would they find relief if they returned
to the ceremonial practices of Judaism?
To do so would be to live under the Old Covenant that was “becoming obsolete
rather than knowing the experience of the New Covenant relationship to God through Christ.
It would not be the sacrifice of bulls and goats
that would take away the guilt of sin.
Only the death of Christ delivers us from the guilt of sin
and liberates us to serve the living God.
How can we be sure of this?
Consider the “much more” of the death of Christ
in cleansing our consciences from sin.

1.]. Not to a certain extent!
The Apostle backtracks into territory familiar to his audience.
– They were brought up under the shadows of Judaism.
– They knew the intricacies practiced by the high priest
as he sought to approach God on behalf of the people.
So to help them understand the temporary nature of everything
they had lived with and now what they considered returning unto,
he paints a picture of a scene in the tabernacle
and the work of the high priest.

1a]. An untorn curtain
Rather than dealing with any symbolism found in “the earthly Sanctuary“,
the pastoral author tells them
of these things we cannot now speak in detail“.
Mystics have given detailed applications of symbolism for every thread in the tabernacle.
But not our writer since the point he wants to make is with all of the magnificence and pageantry of the Old Covenant practices,
the average Joe still had no access to God.
The veil remained untorn and the way to God inaccessible under the Old Covenant of Law.
Only in Jesus Christ was the curtain [veil] removed
and the way to God opened for all who believe.

The ancient writer believed that the Holy Spirit was the author of Scripture.
His statement in Hebr.9: 8 affirms this and demonstrates the continuity of Scripture
by the application he makes.
The Holy Spirit is signifying this,
that the way into the Holy Place has
not yet been disclosed
while the outer tabernacle is still standing,
which is a symbol for the present time
“.
Look at the tabernacle.
Within it, if one could steal a look, would be
the Lampstand and the Table and the Sacred Bread“.
Here the priests in their order would move about to daily burn incense, offer prayers, and maintain the national Worship.
Beyond this was “The second veil . . . . .
which is called the Holy of Holies,
having a golden altar of incense and
the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold,
in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod which budded,
and the tables of the Covenant;
and above it were the Cherubim of Glory overshadowing the Mercy Seat
“.
A sense of awe fills the mind
when contemplating these consecrated symbols of worship under the Old Covenant.
But there is a major problem.
As long as the “outer tabernacle is still standing” or the focal point of worship,
then the way to God has not been known.
Only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies.  And he could do so only once a year.
Every time he entered he did so with fear and trembling.
It was not a joyous entry but the most solemn of occasions in hope
that he would find acceptance by God
for himself and all the people.

So what is this pastor attempting to do?
He wants his congregation to wake up to
the reality that under the Old Covenant,
in spite of all the pageantry and symbolism,
there was no access to God.
The veil remained like an impenetrable wall
between the sinner and Almighty God.
The way into the Holy Place has not yet been disclosed
the Apostle tells them.
Why would anyone want to hang on
to a practice that left the veil intact?

Does some of this same spirit run through any of you?
Because of the pageantry and symbolism that pleases your senses you hang on
to a religious practice than cannot open the way to God.    As the Gospel writers tell us, upon Jesus Christ’s God-satisfying death at the Cross, the veil that barred access to God in the Holy of Holies
was torn from top to bottom!
God opened the way to him through His own Son [Matth.27: 51].

1b]. An unaffected conscience
But wait a minute, one might insist.
Were there not thousands of sacrifices offered and tons of gifts given under the old covenant?
That is correct.
But hear what our writer tells us,
Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered
which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience
“.
It is not what we offer God that cleanses our conscience from sin.
While none of us have presented blood sacrifices upon a brazen altar
I would dare say that some have offered
bloodless sacrifices and gifts‘ in hope of clearing away the guilt of sin.

The predicament faced by the high priest
and all the people was that everything they did
related to only external Satisfaction.
For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats
to take away sins
“.
Hebr.10: 4

To further explain this our writer points out  that the sacrifices offered were for the priest
and “for the sins of the people committed in ignorance“.
It was the “slip-ups“, the unintentional sins that were atoned for by the high priest.
The wilful, rebellious, arrogant, cold-hearted practice of sin had no atonement.
That is why David faced a dilemma when he sinned against God by his wilful acts
toward Bathsheba and Uriah.
His appeal was not to a quick sacrifice
offered for his sin but to the Mercy of God.
You do not delight in sacrifice,
otherwise I would give it;
you are not pleased with burn offering“,
David cried [Psalm 50:16].
David had to look beyond the Sacrificial System
and the rituals of the tabernacle to have his conscience
cleansed from the guilt of sin.
He prayed,
Have Mercy, O Lord,
according to Your loving-kindness

or Mercy Covenant [Psalm 50: 1].
It was not the cut and dry statements of the Old Covenant
that satisfied David in time of guilt.
David trusted in God’s Covenant of Grace,
a Covenant that he did not fully understand,
but cast his hope upon.

1c]. An unaccomplished event
All of this boils down to an unaccomplished event.
The worship of the tabernacle and ceremonies of the high priest
were never intended to be the end-all for man in his relationship to God.
They functioned in the realm of the “not quite”
when it came to being in right relationship to God.
Our writer observes of the old covenant sacrificial system,
Since they relate only to food and drink and various washings,
regulations for the body imposed until a time of restoration
“.
All of the Patriarchs and Prophets and people lived in the realm of the great until.
Everything done under the Old Covenant served as a stop-gap measure
until a time of Renovation“,
until the fullness of time when God would send
forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law,
so that He might redeem those who were under the Law,
that we might receive the adoption as sons
“.
Gal.4: 4-5
During the time of David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, it had not happened.
But now, to the audience this writer addresses
the “time of restoration” through Christ had come.

The word “time” is not the Greek term for chronological time
but the word kairos, a term that refers to an event.
In this case it was a momentous,
even cataclysmic event that affected all of human history,
even all of eternity.
The “time of restoration ” summarizes the Incarnation, sinless life of Christ, atoning death, burial, and Resurrection.
It was a time of “restoration
or ‘restoring what was out of line
or putting in an ‘new order’ as some have termed it.
All of the practices in Judaism were fulfilled in this “time of restoration” in Christ.
There was no need to revert to shadows when the substance had come!

2.].  Much more New!
The Apostle was not denigrating the ceremonial practices of Judaism as if they did no good.
For indeed these practices helped to boost the confidence of the people to seek the Lord,
to find him as merciful and gracious.
But they were “imposed until a time of restoration”,
demonstrating the inadequacy of the Old Covenantal practices
in approaching God and knowing deliverance from the guilt of sin.
The Old Covenant never secured anything for the people, even the most earnest people.
Instead it pointed to the fulfilment in the New Covenant through Jesus Christ.
In contrast to an entire system that never secured anything for worshipers,
the writer now points to how much more Jesus Christ
has secured for all who trust in Him.

2a]. Secured redemption
The contrast with the work of the high priest is intentional.
He explains,
“Now when these things have been so prepared,
the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle performing the Divine Worship,
but into the second, only the high priest enters once a year, not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed
in ignorance”.
Leviticus 16 describes the scene as the high priest
dons the white linen tunic covering linen undergarments, girded with a linen sash,
and wearing a linen turban,
he first takes a bull that he offers as a sin offering
for himself and his household.
With two handfuls of incense lofting aroma
as he places it upon the coals of his firepan,
he enters behind the veil carrying the blood of the slain bull.
Upon the Mercy seat and in front of it,
he sprinkles the blood seven times to atone for his own sins.
He slips out from behind the veil and returns with the blood of the goat of the sin offering,
bringing its blood inside the veil and sprinkling it upon the Mercy Seat to atone
for the sin of the people.
He must even make atonement for the tabernacle itself
due to the impurities of the people.
He then lays his hands upon a second goat, the scapegoat,
confessing the sins of the people over it
so that as it is led into the wilderness
it symbolically bears away the sins of the people.

What were the people to see through all of this ritual:
Properly understood, the ritual of the Day of Atonement
in its various parts was sacramental in character,
inviting the people to look beyond the sign to the reality,
yet to be fulfilled, when the perfect high priest would come,
able to represent them without hindrance of sin in the presence of God,
and would offer the perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness
and the removal of their sins forever.

In contrast we find Jesus Christ!
But when Christ appeared as a High Priest of the good things to come
[hence the Old Covenant practices were temporary
and were to be looked beyond to the Messiah],
He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle,
not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation;
and not through the blood of goats and calves,
but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all,
having obtained eternal redemption“.
Several questions are answered in this text.

First, who secured eternal redemption?
It was Jesus Christ, appearing as
a High Priest of the good things to come
that secured redemption.
The word, “obtained“, is in the aorist tense
and points back to one event that did the securing or obtaining of redemption.
Literally, the phrase is translated,
after He had secured eternal redemption“,
thus pointing to the sufficiency of Jesus’ work on the Cross,
redemption decisively secured there.
Jesus appeared in Heaven for us
after he had secured Eternal Redemption“, not to secure it.
Some have mistakenly thought that Jesus had to carry a basin of blood
into the Heavenly tabernacle just like the priest did in the earthly one.
But the text makes clear that the death of Christ
secured our redemption not a subsequent act.

Second, how did He secure eternal redemption?
“Not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood”.
The use of “blood” in the language of Scripture always implies death
and typically a vicious death.
“‘The blood of Christ’ means Christ’s death regarded as a sacrifice for sin….
In this context blood is not death in general
but death as seen as a sacrifice“.
Again, the language is very clear
that the redemptive work that took place refers
to the death of Jesus on the cross
so that his entrance into heaven was through
[Greek, dia or ‘by means of’ used instrumentally] his bloody death.
The idea of a blood sacrifice appears primitive in our day.
However we are not talking about pleasantries or socially acceptable behaviour in this context,
but the Satisfaction that God’s Justice demands.
How can a monetary offering satisfy Him who owns all?
How can good deeds assuage the wrath of Him
who has been offended by our sins?
How can some inanimate object or non-human creature
actually satisfy the wrath of God directed toward humanity?
How can ritual or ceremony appease God who is not so silly
as to be charmed like the brute gods of heathenism?
How can God overlook the infinite stain of mankind’s collective sin,
much less the initial offense of our representative,
Adam, in the Garden of Eden?
It was not the blood of Christ in a basin or vial or container
offered in Heaven that secured eternal redemption,
but the bloody death of the Son of God at the cross as God
caused the iniquities of us all to fall on Him
Isaiah 53: 6
Is that where your hope rests?

Third, what did Jesus secure?
While the priest could do nothing to
make the worshiper perfect in conscience“,
Jesus Christ, “through His own blood . . . obtained eternal redemption“.
The word “eternal” immediately qualifies
what Jesus has done as distinct from the temporal work of priests.
His work is eternal.
The work specifically s called “redemption”.
The word literally means, “to release by the payment of a price“.
The price was “through His own blood“.
The payment made was not to man or to the devil,
as some mistakenly say, but it was a payment to God.
It was the demand of God’s own righteousness.
It is a release from the curse of the Law.
One writer expressed it like this:
Like a black thundercloud the Law hung over men’s heads,
and they looked up to it in fear that
at any minute the lightning of the divine judgment
might flame out from its heart.
What could be done?
God took the initiative.
Christ came and on the Cross bore for us the doom which sin involved . . .
Christ bore the penalty which in strict justice we ought to have borne . . .
Death was the curse of the Law,
and that curse Christ took upon Himself.

The release points to deliverance from slavery to sin,
from the penalty of sin, from the guilt associated with sin,
and ultimately, deliverance from the wrath of God.
Deliverance from slavery is at the heart of this term,
and indeed, as our Substitute, Jesus Christ bore
the price of our slavery so that we might be set free
into the liberty of sons of God.

Fourth, how can I be certain that Jesus secured eternal redemption?
This is the point of the
“more perfect tabernacle, that is to say, not of this creation”.
As Jesus “entered the holy place once for all”
He secured forever our release from sin’s guilt
and liberated us into relationship to God.
While the priests were continually offering sacrifices,
Jesus offered one sacrifice “once for all”.
This means that the sacrifice of Christ can never be repeated;
it is complete and can never be added to;
and it is final, accepted by God in
the “more perfect tabernacle”.

A cleansed conscience is not found
by improved meditation techniques or psychotherapy.
It is the result of Faith in Jesus Christ
Who has obtained eternal redemption for you
by his complete, unrepeatable death on the Cross.

Conclusion
Jesus Christ is the only one
Who can deliver you from the guilt of sin.
Have you trusted Him alone
as your Redeemer?
Look to Christ by Faith, turn from your sin,
and rest in the sufficiency of
the Crucified and Risen Lord.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zosimas replied:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Zosimas answered:

Amen“.

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

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

Zosimas said:

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

She answered:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalms created on Truth – Orthodoxy & her Psalterion

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

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

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

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

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

Luc.24: 27, 44

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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