6e Zondag na Pascha, de Zondag van de blindgeboren mens

Op deze zondag voorafgaand aan het feest van de Hemelvaart van Christus,
brengt ons de Kerk het Evangelie van de blindgeborene in herinnering.
Er zijn hier twee aandachtspunten die mij opvallen.

1.]. Christus maakt hier een opmerking over de reden waarom deze mens blind was geboren . Als antwoord op een vraag van de discipelen, zegt Hij zegt dat blindheid er niet was omdat de mens of zijn ouders gezondigd hadden, maar opdat de werken Gods in hem worden geopenbaard.
Met andere woorden, onze Heer geeft zelf aan dat een ziekte of handicap niet altijd het gevolg zijn van persoonlijke zonden of de zonde van anderen,
maar ze worden toegestaan ​​ om de Glorie van God aan de mensen te openbaren.
Veelal is de menselijke aandacht voor datgene waar men onder gebukt gaat – de handicap – reden om zich van de wereldse zaken te weerhouden en zich meer tot God te richten.
De blinde hoort meer, ervaart meer omdat hij meer door het hemelse Licht dan het aardse in beslag wordt genomen; de dove richt zich meer op datgene wat hij ziet bouwt zich in zijn beperking meer op het innerlijke. De mens zoekt God in zijn aardse onvolkomenheden, vraagt zich af waarom ik en krijgt hier van Christus een antwoord: richt je op Gods weken, welke via jouw handicap worden geopenbaard.
We kunnen dit zien in de levens van een aantal mensen met een achterstandspositie .
Ze zetten hun nadeel om in iets anders, een uitdaging die het beste in hen kan boven brengen.
We kunnen hierbij denken aan bijvoorbeeld bepaalde Downs Syndroom kinderen,
die ongelooflijk vriendelijk en liefdevol kunnen zijn, veel meer dan wanneer zij ‘gezond’ waren geboren. We kunnen allemaal denken aan voorbeelden van ongelooflijke moed en liefde onder kansarmen.
Waarom ?
Omdat de genade van God op hen is nedergedaald:
‘de werken van God die in hen openbaar wordt gemaakt’.

2.]. We kunnen ook denken aan sommige ‘blinde’ mensen, die de realiteitszin hebben verloren, het innerlijke kwijt zijn,
de Genade van God hebben verloren.
– De dief, die niet ziet dat hij zichzelf tekort doet.
– De leugenaar, die zichzelf voor de mal houdt – zo vèr zelfs dat hij zelf in zijn leugens gelooft.
– De verslaafde, die niet meer weet waar hij het zoeken moet.
– De gevangene, die geen uitweg meer ziet.
– De arme rijke, die zich in zichzelf en z’n eenzaamheid opsluit.
– De arrivist, die zichzelf voorbij streeft – zichzelf tot middelpunt heeft gemaakt van zijn omgeving.
Heb nu niet het idee dat het jou niet overkomt, want zoals de Geest waait waarheen Hij gaat
– zo tracht de tegenstrever haar onderuit te halen, een mist op te trekken, zodat je het niet meer dóór hebt.
En dit overkomt zelfs de besten onder ons:
– een lezer, die zichzelf zo mooi vindt lezen
– een psaltist, die zo mooi zingt, dat hij zijn medekoorleden niet meer ziet staan.
– een koor wat eigen lof zingt in plaats van dit te doen tot eer aan God.
– diakens en priesters die zichzelf bewieroken, teneinde de gunst van gelovigen te verwerven.
– een gemeenschap, die zich in zichzelf opsluit, teneinde de nationale trots te kunnen botvieren, zichzelf thuis te voelen in hun ‘eigen’ kerk.
– kerkenbouwers die hun doel slechts door jarenlang leugen, manipulatie, diefstal en bedrog kunnen bereiken.
– biechtvaders, die de starets [counseler] uithangen, in plaats van slechts een luisterend Goddelijke toehoorder te zijn.
– Lichamelijk en geestelijk beter bedeelden, schoonheden, die hun onschuld verloren hebben.
Zo worden we omringd door degenen die geen interesse in mensen, maar in de grond van hun hart alleen willen maar willen profiteren van de uiterlijke schijn via macht of dikke bankrekeningen.
Vergeet daarbij niet de bijzonder intelligente en goed opgeleide mensen,
wiens intelligentie is opgeslagen in hun geestelijke vermogens, terwijl zij buitengewoon pretentieus en dwaas zijn geworden, zich krom lachen om het onvermogen van minderbedeelden en zich voor het aangezicht van de wereld grote financiële vermogens toe-eigenen.
Hun voordelen worden daarmee hun grootste handicap, zij belemmeren elke vorm van geluk voor zichzelf en anderen.

3.]. In de situatie van de vandaag aangehaalde blindgeborene, is zijn hele leven gericht geweest op het verkrijgen van de Heilige Geest, een voorbereiding op zijn persoonlijke ontmoeting met Christus.
Zijn ziel was niet alleen niet zuiver genoeg, verfijnd door zijn levenslange handicap,
om de Goddelijke genezing te ontvangen,
maar kwam ook tekort in het belijden van de Enige, Die wij belijden als de Zoon van God,
waardoor de werken van God in hemzelf openbaar worde.

Daartegenover zij die echt blind zijn [waren] omdat ze de mensen verboden genezing en goede werken te doen op Sabbat, intimideerden door hen [de blindgeborene en zijn ouders] vragen te stellen en hen daarna buiten [de kerk] te sluiten [te excommuniceren].

En dan de blindgeborene, die ziet, die ten opzichte van de omgeving [het ganse kerkvolk] getuigt:
Ik weet niet of Jezus een zondaar is of niet ; een ding weet ik ; dat ik blind was , en nu zie ik“.
En vervolgens voegde hij eraan toe : “Als Hij niet van God is, dan kon Hij niets doen“.
En ten slotte bekende hij dat hij geloofde dat Christus de Zoon van God is – één van de eerste die dit in de evangeliën doet.

Pdf: Wees er [gedicht]
Het besef van de blindgeborene is dan een vreugdekreet.
Hij kan ons leren hoe te oordelen, of liever anderen te onderscheiden
– hen aan hun vruchten te herkennen.
Als wij Christenen, of niet gelovigen, van God zijn,
dan zullen we dit Voorbeeld [Hem] volgen  en goede vruchten dragen,
voor wie dat niet is, die zal met al zijn [vermeende] vermogens niets klaarspelen
en als een harlekijn zijn weg gaan.
Zo die er één van God is, zal hij eindigen onder de getuigenis
van de Grootsheid en Godheid van Christus.

Overigens dien ik te wijzen op de manier waarop Christus genas.
Hij spuugde op de aarde en ‘maakte slijk uit dat speeksel’.
We merken hierbij op dat dit voor elke Mysterie [RK. sacrament] van de Kerk geldt;
God, in de naam van de Vader, de Zoon en de Heilige Geest geneest , op dezelfde manier:
de adem van God, de Heilige Geest is de drager van de genezende Genade van God.
– Water op zich kan niet genezen,
maar het water van de doop geneest
omdat het gezegende water
​​de Heilige Geest met zich meedraagt.
– Olie op zich kan niet genezen
maar de olie van Myronzalving kan genezen,
omdat het vervuld is van de Genade van God .
– Een doekje kan niet genezen
maar toch is een priester in staat gesteld te genezen
door de genade van Christus
aan degene die oprecht zijn zonden belijd en
de berouwvolle intentie heeft niet meer te zondigen .
– Brood en wijn kan niet genezen en
toch wordt brood en wijn veranderd
in het Lichaam en Bloed van Christus
om te genezen door de Heilige Geest .
– Hout, kalk en pigmenten kunnen niet genezen en
toch kunnen Iconen hun heilzame uitwerking hebben
door de Heilige Geest die in hun materiële essentie doordringt
en de begenadiging, die van hen uitstraalt.
– Rook kan niet genezen en
toch brengt wierook genezing
door de zegen van Christus,
die ervan uitgaat.

Christus leert ons dan dat alle dingen gebruikt kunnen worden
tot genezing en voordeel en zaligheid van onszelf,
maar dat zij eerst dienen te worden aangeraakt
door Zijn Genade.
Op deze manier kan ons lichaam, louter vlees en beenderen en bloed,
dienen als Icoon van Christus, Christus-dragend [Chrystophoros].
Onze ziel kan geactiveerd worden,
zodat wij lichtdragers worden van de Heilige Geest;
de ogen van onze ziel, de deuren van de waarneming,
en daardoor wordt de blindgeborene, die wij allemaal zijn,
geheeld, genezen tot een Icoon van de gehele schepping Gods,
waar wij deel van uit maak en die behoort te zijn,
waarvoor hij geschapen is zoals ze werkelijk behoort te zijn.
We zien dat elk grassprietje en elke heuvel, elke boom en elke wolk,
elke druppel regen en elke oceaan,
alle schepselen en alle mensen,
wonderen zijn van Gods handwerk,
tekenen van Zijn Mystieke [RK. Sacramentele] aanwezigheid onder ons
en we zien dan tevens dat niet we wonen in deze banale,
alledaagse wereld om ons heen.
We wonen dan in de wereld zoals hij werkelijk is,
in potentie het Paradijs, het Koninkrijk Gods,
zoals God deze in den beginne heeft gemaakt,
want we zien God de Schepper achter
alle dingen en alle mensen .

En dan zijn we eveneens in staat
om samen met de blindgeborene te zeggen :
‘Ik was blind en nu zie ik’.

Heer, Jezus Christus, Zoon van God,
heb medelijden met mij, blindgeboren zondaar
en 
redt mij“.

Dwazen om Christus – een graankorrel van wijsheid in onze tijd

Wij zijn dwaas om Christus’ wil, maar gij zijt verstandig in Christus;
wij zijn zwak, maar gij zijt sterk;
gij zijt in aanzien, maar wij zijn niet in eer.
Tot op dit ogenblik verduren wij honger, dorst,
naaktheid, vuistslagen en een zwervend leven;
wij verrichten zware handenarbeid;
worden wij gescholden, wij zegenen;
worden wij vervolgd, wij verdragen;
worden wij gelasterd, wij blijven vriendelijk;
wij zijn als het uitvaagsel der wereld geworden,
als aller voetveeg, tot op dit ogenblik toe“.
1Cor.4: 10-13

In het Oude Testament wordt ons over de waanzin geleerd
Vrouwe Dwaasheid is luidruchtig, enkel onverstand, en zij weet niets”[Wijsheid 9: 13]
en alleen “de mond der zotten houdt zich met dwaasheid bezig“[Wijsheid 15: 14].
Alleen soms wanneer dwazen zich op een zinloze manier voor het aangezicht des Heren gedragen onthult de diepte van hun acties of hun woorden zich als een van de profeten.
Christus heeft dwazen ook ontmoet en ze ook behandeld “Hij is bezeten en waanzinnig; waarom luistert gij naar Hem?“[John 10: 20].
Daarop volgde de dwaasheid van het Kruis, de dood en de over de wereld verspreide discipelen hebben die woorden van de Heer en Meester vergeten en gecamoufleerd.

De moeder Gods en reine Maagd Maria nam de rol van Eva op Zich en dit was een vrouw die aan de wereld de andere waanzin verkondigde: die van de Opstanding van de Heer.
Maria Magdalena ging in de vroege Paasmorgen naar het graf, bezorgd over het wegrollen van de steen, zodat zij haar taak van Myrondraagster [Myrrhophore] zou kunnen uitvoeren.
Ze hield Christus
als eerste voor de tuinman, maar het was de heer!
Ze ging in haast de apostelen opzoeken en vertelde hen het nieuwe onbeschrijfbare.
En zij zeiden tot haar: Gij spreekt wartaal. Doch zij bleef volhouden, dat het zo was“.[Hand.12: 15].
Het duurde een tijdje om deze waanzin te gaan ontdekken in de periode dat de kerk ontston, maar wat zou de Apostolische boodschap zonder haar moeten doen?
Toen kwam de apostel van de Volkeren, hij, die door het Licht werd neergeslagen op weg naar Damascus. Hij leverde zich over aan Christus en werd als een dwaas beschouwd.
Maar Paulus zei dat hij niet gek was: “Hoogedele Festus, ik spreek geen wartaal, maar de nuchtere waarheid“.
Hand.26: 25
Wij zijn dwaas om Christus’ wil, maar gij zijt verstandig in Christus; wij zijn zwak, maar gij zijt sterk; gij zijt in aanzien, maar wij zijn niet in ere.
Dan beweert hij met stelligheid dat ‘de tijd waarin wij leven en tijd’
van waanzin is “omwille van Christus“.
1Cor.4: 10
Hij zegt zelfs dat:
Wat voor de wereld dwaas is,
heeft God uitverkoren om de wijzen te beschamen
en wat voor de wereld zwak is,
heeft God uitverkoren om wat sterk is te beschamen“.
1Cor.1: 27
“Heeft God niet de wijsheid der wereld tot dwaasheid gemaakt?
Want daar de wereld in de wijsheid Gods door haar wijsheid God niet gekend heeft,
heeft het God behaagd door de dwaasheid der prediking te redden hen die geloven. Immers, de Joden verlangen tekenen en de Grieken zoeken wijsheid,
doch wij prediken een gekruisigde Christus,
voor Joden een aanstoot, voor heidenen een dwaasheid,
maar voor hen, die geroepen zijn, Joden zowel als Grieken, [zo prediken wij] Christus,
de kracht Gods en de wijsheid Gods.
Want het dwaze van God is wijzer dan de mensen
en het zwakke van God is sterker dan de mensen”.
1Cor.1 20-25
De kerk groeit en de dwaasheid van de prediking wordt voortgezet onder de vervolging.

● Toen kwam de tijd waarin de Christelijke Godsdienst als die van het rijk werd beschouwd, dan ontstaan de monniken die de wereld verlaten en de woestijn intrekken.
–> Hun roeping was identiek aan die van de Profeten, de Apostelen en de vroege Christenen, maar hun grootste bestaan was een absolute noodzaak.
–> Ze gingen voort aan de rand van de zee en waren een roepende in de woestijn.
–> Zij waren niet op de vlucht voor de wereld, zij waren niet verdwenen maar zij kwamen uit hun schuilplaats iedere keer wanneer de ketterijen de Kerk bedreigden.
–> Zij hebben ook gebeden voor deze wereld, maar geven in tegenstelling tot de wereld God een eerste plaats in hun bestaan.
–> Wanneer de kloosters zelf tot instellingen werden, hebben de monniken en leken de waanzin van  Christus ingevoerd en wilden slechts de kale getuigen zijn van de gekruisigde die de wereld zelf ooit had verworpen.
–> De uiterlijke verschijning van hen als mens werd nog gerespecteerd, maar toch werden ze slecht [als outcast] behandeld en soms geslagen.
–> Zij waren de levende herinnering aan de man der Smarten, maar hun wezen was vaak star in materiële comfort en minimalistisch praktijken van rituele vroomheid, welke ondraaglijk waren.

De liturgische werkruimten, de eersteklas broederschappen, de kerkelijke gebouwen,
de priesterlijke hiërarchie, was dit alles niet bevredigend?
Waren dit niet slechts eenvoudige maar effectieve verzamelingen die overtolligheden bevatten die de tijd niet langer kon dulden?
Beschouwden veel christenen dit niet als de ‘Groot-Inquisiteur’ van Dostojevski die aankondigde dat Christus naar de aarde zou terugkeren dat het alles zonder Hem gerund werd en dat dit ook nog steeds het geval is?
De dwaas om Christus herinnert ons aan de eenvoudige voorwaarde van het Evangelie:
de hongerige te voeden, degenen te kleden die die naakt zijn, de gevangenen te bezoeken,
de zieken . . . . .
en, vooral, de herinnering van God bij dit alles als voornaamste gegeven in gedachten te houden.

Maar hier worden we geconfronteerd met de Christelijke samenleving die haar armen heeft, maar er niet eens naar omkijkt
waar is de broederlijke liefde van de vroege Christenen met de besluiten waarbij alles onder elkaar  verdeeld werd?
waar zijn haar in ellende verkerende daklozen, haar vluchtelingen,
waar bevinden zich haar tirannen, hun opslagplaatsen en haar gehaaide manier van het vertsrekken van leningen!
Is het niet zo verworden dat Christus maar voor een gedeelte in de organisatie van onze ideale samenleving is opgenomen, maar dat Zijn Naam totaal is vergeten?
De dwazen om Christus hebben hier hun bestaansrecht ter vervanging van de hoogste Evangelieboodschap in herinnering te brengen, die nu eens niet wordt gereduceerd tot de eenvoudige liturgische gedachtenis en strikte naleving van opgelegde dwingende sociale codes.

Het is echter een grote vergissing te geloven dat er zich een revolutionaire kiem in de kerk of in de samenleving bevindt.
Christus heeft voor eens en voor altijd gezegd: we moeten aan God geven wat van God is en aan de keizer wat hem toebehoort.
De ‘dwazen-om-Christus-wil’ hielden van de Kerk, van haar instellingen, van haar diensten en haar wijze van bestaan werd nimmer door hen betwist.

Ze waren in die zin gewoon de beste zonen en dochters van de kerk.
Maar ze wilden dat de Kerk en haar gebruiken gericht waren op slechts één enkel doel,
dat wil zeggen dat het juiste antwoord werd gegeven op die ongebruikelijke oproep van Gods liefde, die Zich zover vernederde dat Hij ons toestond met Hem in gesprek te gaan.
Ze hebben niet geprobeerd anderen door hun daden van schijnbare dementie te imponeren, zij trachtten hen door hun platitude [gemeenplaats] bewust te maken van de mogelijkheden:
De dwazen-in-Christus werden vaak door allen veracht, zij werden door autoriteiten herkend en  aanvaard door diegenen die over een gezond verstand beschikten en overtuigd ware dat ze over een superioriteit beschikten ten opzichte van degene die zij vervolgen.
Ze waren een indicatie voor de onbenulligheid van menselijke glorie.
Bent u uit op de goedkeuring van deze tijd, die u doet geloven dat de weg die zij hebben gekozen de enige juiste is?
Bent u uit op  het te snel veroordelen van iemand die u niet gevraagd heeft een oordeel te vellen?
Bent u erop uit op dat het aantal gelijk-hebbers een garantie zouden vormen voor van de waarheid?
Hoe velen zouden er hun kleine geestelijk leven niet zonder beperkingen willen doorbrengen;
Zij, die met hun grote oogkleppen het leed van anderen niet zien,
die alles en iedereen op een hoop gooien en onmiddellijk op iets anders overstappen?
Voor al diegenen die zich zouden willen conformeren binnen draaglijke en aanvaardbare grenzen van de eisen hun tijd en tevens het moderne leven van de Christen zouden willen uitdragen is de positie van de Dwaas-om-Christus-il essentieel en noodzakelijk.
Door het leven van deze grote gebeds-atleten te bestuderen nemen wij kennis van hun collectieve eigenschappen: de minachting voor hun optreden welke als ondenkbaar wordt beschouwd vanwege onze kortzichtige en benauwde leefstijl,
een visie waarop wij onze liturgische werkplekken vorm geven, hun gave van profetie . . . en wanneer het gaat om deze hemelse biografieën enkel te beschouwen als vrome vertellingen staat in onze tijd de grote figuur op van de Heilige aartsbisschop John [Maximovitch] van Shanghai en San Francisco wiens lichaam na zijn dood ongeschonden werd teruggevonden.
Veel verhalen van zijn leven doen ons denken aan die van de andere dwazen-om-Christus . . .
maar ook hij woonde onder ons, en ons is bekend dat gelovigen van alle bestaande continenten hem nog steeds kennen want er zijn diverse boeken en getuigenissen over bekend!
Het is geen opstand tegen sociale orde, noch een poging om een revolutie in de kerk te ontketenen, de dwaasheid om Christus wil blijft de smalle weg die sommige schepselen als uitzonderingsgeval betreden.
Ze gaan in deze moeilijke weg niet op eigen houtje doch met de zegen van een ‘erkend’ geestelijk vader [staretz], we zijn hierin gewaarschuwd door de Heilige Seraphim van Sarov aan degenen die dit kruis op hun schouders zouden willen nemen!
Maar we weten ook dat deze staretz met zijn zegen, kennis had van de dwazen-on-Christus die ons nog steeds in onze herinnering voortleven.

Ongetwijfeld komt, deze beschamende en zo gênant voor de ‘correct gerichte’ sterfelijke leefvorm, moeilijk overeen met ons logisch denken en onze behoefte om de voorrang te geven aan zuiver aardse begrippen in al ons doen en laten.
Zoals vaak zijn wij het zelf die slechts met bijbehorende trots, belangstelling tonen en bepaalde mensen aanvaarden, terwijl we andersdenkenden van dezelfde comfortabele richting met afwijkend gedrag hun naakte leven tot God van deze hemelse landlopers maar eigenaardig vinden.
Ze zijn het zout der aarde, hetgeen de smaak behoud, het Goddelijke zuurdesem en het levend geweten van de Heilige Kerk.
Slechts aan God behoort het toe hun roeping te verheffen en het tijdstip van hun eindstreep te bepalen, maar ze behoren tot eeuwigheid van dit leven.

Er is een tijd geweest dat slechts de Christelijke verkondiging door de vervolgers werd beschouwd als een geestelijke aftakeling:
de martelaren van de Ottomaanse periode die de zekerheid van hun bestaan achter zich lieten en die bij de overheersers in de Bulgaarse, Griekse, Roemeense en Russische periode opkwamen voor hun Christendom en tot de dood aan toe hun belijdenis hebben hooggehouden, getuigen van de relativiteit van het oordeel van de wereld en de buitengewone kracht van hun Christelijk Geloof.
Hun zienswijze werd veroordeeld, ja zelfs wereldwijd veroordeeld.
Ze waren tot zwakte verplicht, die zwakte waarover de apostel Paulus spreekt.
Dwaasheid-om-Christus-wil is een getuigenis die bijna altijd grenst aan Martelaarschap.

Echter zuigelingen worden zij genoemd om deze waanzin in Christus en manifesteren zich ook als zodanig, omdat hun roepingen afwijken, net als de woningen in het huis van de Vader.
Soms zijn de reacties op deze Goddelijke oproep niet uit de lucht gegrepen: het begint met vurig enthousiasme op de verandering – gevolgd door gebruikelijke routine, vervolgens overgaand in lauwheid, de laatste stap vóór onverschilligheid of ongeloof.
Soms bestaat het hemelse pad dat deze zwerfhonden kruist uit een zich afwenden van koninklijk werelds succes, de herkenning van de mens en haar valse vroomheid die enkel tot doel heeft in de eerste plaats de persoonlijke belangen te dienen en een daaropvolgende lucratieve [kerkelijke] carrière.
De dwaze-in-Christus ontpopt zich als iemand die zijn blik onhoudbaar op God gericht houdt en op de onrechtvaardigheid van de wereld.
De bestaande en krachtige organisatie van de hiërarchie en zelfs tsaren en machthebbers hebben vervolgens deze manier van kijken kunnen ondersteunen.
Dit bewustzijnsniveau over deze blijkbaar typische wezens personifieert de beklemming en het misnoegen over de continuïteit van hun zogenoemde spirituele comfort en de valse vrede die hen bevredigt.
De dwaze-in-Christus heeft bestaansrecht om ons te herinneren aan de Openbaring van de ruimhartigheid van onze Heer, teneinde hun slapende zielen schrijnend wakker te schudden.

Maar het gaat ook om eenvoudige en bescheiden gelovigen, die in het duister Licht aanschouwen.
Degenen die verwonderd de stempel van de genade van het geloof als een onmetelijke zegen hebben aanvaard.
Zij brengen discreet en devoot de heilige riten en haar werken in praktijk die zij in stille en nederige aanbidding tot zich nemen en zij verheugen zich over  de distantie in de Stille Wake van hun liefdevolle en vreedzame ziel.
Ze hebben de waardevolle parel van het evangelie en haar het kostbare verblijf ontdekt.
Ze leven gewoon overeenkomstig datgene wat het geloof voorschrift, als broer en zus omdat ze de liefde van God ervaren, zij treuren met hen die treuren, zij zijn blij met degenen die zich verheugen.
Maar het zal hen nooit doen besluiten te gaan prediken, enkel door hun voorbeeld.
Ze leven met de Goddelijke Liturgie, de Mysteriën en de feesten van een parochiekerk welke hun hoofdverblijf vormt. Grote intellectuelen negeren of verachten hen [zoals ze bij de dwazen-om-Christus doen] omdat deze wezens simpel zijn en niet in staat om deel te nemen aan ijdele en langdradig theologische gesprekken, die hen totaal vreemd zijn:
ze weten niet of ze willen zich niet in woorden vastleggen, maar ze bedrijven de oprechte liefde en zijn ware Theologen welke de wereld nodig heeft.
Zij preken door middel van hun leven, zelfs wanneer zij onzichtbaar zijn, zij zijn verscholen aan de zijlijn van hun kloosters, hun parochies of de eenzaamheid waarin zij verkeren.
Vaak komt het besef rond hun eenzaam bestaan eerst voor het daglicht na hun dood.
Vaker nog, blijft hun weg welke zij in de wereld bewandelden vergeten, maar zijn ze als wij allen, zonder verandering, aanwezig in de ogen van God.
Ze waren zich altijd bewust en ze hebben  de mensheid het beste laten zien om Christus wil.
Het maakt hen niet uit wanneer maar een paar mensen dit hebben gezien en begrepen, zijn ze niet minder dan de overige rechtvaardigen die in de stilte van hun kamer tot gebed komen.
Zij worden gerechtvaardigd door het enige geheim waarmee hun Hemelse Vader hen beloont.
Deze eenvoudige van hart zijn de eersterangs stilte Gods die als de dwazen-om-Christus-wil het grote rumoer doen verstommen. Beide werken aan de enige Glorie tot God.

In de zachte warmte van onze materialistische tijd,
waarbij christenen zich vaak schijnen te schamen voor de waanzin van het Kruis,
waarbij de wereld godsdienst slechts beperkt tot die enkele keer op zondag als de enige plaats van aanbidding,
zal een mogelijke opwaardering van nieuwe dwazen-om-Christus
de herinneren in ons herinnering doen opbloeien welke zich heeft losgemaakt van God,
de voorwaarde van het evangelie en onze eerste lotsbestemming:
een kiem van Liefde te worden in het hier en nu.
” Laat niemand zichzelf misleiden!
Indien iemand onder u meent wijs te zijn in deze tijd,
hij worde dwaas, om wijs te worden”.
1Cor.3: 18

 

Moeder Tarsus Zagoreu – dwaas om Christus [1910 – 7-10-1989]
Moeder Tarsus neemt een uitzonderlijke en eminente plaats in onder hen,
die op dit moment het oude Licht doen opstralen,
de traditie van de dwazen-om-Christus-wil.

Dwaze [zich als psychiatrisch patiënt gedragende] Heiligen
komen tussen beide als een knotsgekke manifestatie van extreme nederigheid,
welke het aanzien van de mensen vermijdt.
God deelt via zo iemand meestal ‘per ongeluk’ mee dat dit een echte heilige is
een wonder die zich zeer dicht bij de engelen van God bevindt!
Hij laat ons een persoon zien,
die door de gehele stad veracht en belachelijk gemaakt wordt,
die leeft van aalmoezen,
die in de middenberm van de straat ligt te slapen
die in de kerk op de preekstoel klimt en
die de beminde gelovigen met grond bekogelt of
die in het openbaar vlees eet als voorbereiding op Pascha.
Zo is het verslag over elke dwaas-om-Christus-wil, het verhaal van zijn/haar biograaf.
In de hele geschiedenis van het christendom worden verschillende dwazen-om-Christus-heiligen beschreven;
de Kerk van Griekenland telt 87 dwazen om Christus waaronder:
De heilige Andreas, die oorspronkelijk uit Scythië kwam [de waarheid over hem kende alleen zijn  priester Nikephoros van Hagia Sophia in Constantinopel, welke zijn biechtvader was],
de heilige Simeon, de heilige Theodore, de heilige Paulus, de heilige Sava van Vatopedi, de heilige Theodulus van Cyprus en de Heilige Isodora [welke leefde door de nonnen in het klooster in Tavena in Opper-Egypte veracht werd, die aldaar leefde en in een visioen aan de grote wereld door de asceet Pitirim openbaar werd gemaakt, maar toen haar heiligheid bekend werd, verdween zij en niemand hoorde ooit meer iets over haar].
De Kerk van Rusland kent er in dit opzicht meer, zowel mannen als vrouwen,
zoals de eerbiedwaardige Ksenija [1806] en anderen die we al eerder hebben genoemd.
De belangrijkste dwazen-om-Christus-wil worden beschouwd als een gave van de Heilige Geest, deze dwazen beweren een sterke roeping van Christus te hebben ontvangen en aan dit soort roepingen kan men geen gevolg geven wanneer het niet van Christus [God] afkomt, want er zijn echt grote  gevaren aan verbonden.
Maar zie, aan het eind van onze twintigste technologische eeuw staat er een vrouw op, belast met  deze vreselijke traditie, in Athene!

Tarsus Zagoreu [verkleinwoord van Tarasija 1910 – 07/10/1989], was een mooi en goed opgeleide meisje uit Andros, welke er rond de leeftijd van 20 jaar openlijk voor uit kwam uitverkoren te zijn de vrijwillige waanzin op zich te nemen;
de uitnodiging zoals zij dat noemde had zij al op haar 14e jaar ontvangen van “officieren” zoals zij de engelen betitelde.
Zij werd aan diverse psychiatrische onderzoeken in tempels der geneeskunde onderworpen.
Vervolgens leefde zij als gek, in het klooster van de Heilige Maagd Pevkovuniojatrisa Keratea Attica, in de marge van de kloostergemeenschap [het is niet bekend of zij overeenkomstig de regels non werd] , in een onderkomen [schuurtje] buiten het klooster.
Haar levenswijze was streng, maar was nooit streng voor anderen om haar heen; zij sliep en zat op de grond, at een beetje eten van de slechtste kwaliteit,
onderwierp haar lichaam aan de regen en kou, etc..
Door haar voortdurend gebed werd het na een korte tijd aan de nonnen en veel van de pelgrims van het klooster duidelijk dat wat zich achter de in vodden geklede gek verborgen hield een heilige schuil ging.
Daarom kreeg zij vele bezoekers die zij met allegorische en normaal beschouwd absurde woorden  adviseerde, maar in werkelijkheid bleken deze voor elk van haar gesprekspartners zeer belangrijk.

Volgens vele getuigen, werd ze rijkelijk gezegend met de gave van helderziendheid en inzicht [hetgeen zij verborgen hield achter domheid en soms achter valse robuustheid, die degenen woedend weigerde te naderen door hen die haar met lof en respect probeerden op te hemelen],
zij had nauw contact met de wereld van de engelen en heiligen [er zijn aanwijzingen dat een engel haar verscheen, hoewel de moderne mens zal lachen als ze horen dat zoiets het mogelijk is], en na haar dood geurde haar relieken naar Myron.
De vermelding van haar onderricht  was altijd geheimzinnig, maar niet onbegrijpelijk en
de gebeurtenissen in haar contact met de massa’s bezoekers vormen nog steeds het onderwerp van onderzoek.

Orthodoxy, Pascha, Passover & the physical Resurrection from death

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What happens to you at the coming of Christ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Orthodoxy & 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.

Beginning of Holy Week – Palm Sunday, Gospel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Orthodox Church Patriarch visits the Netherlands

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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