An updated schedule of Church services starting from the 6th Sunday of Pascha (Sunday of the Blind man) available in English and Russian are at the links below:
Protection of the Holy Virgin – Russian Orthodox Church, Cabramatta
Сегодня мы с вами слышали за Божественной литургией повествование Святого евангелиста Иоанна Богослова о том, как Иисус Христос исцелил человека слепорожденного, т.е., который никогда ничего не видал. Характерно то, что когда закончилось это евангельское повествование, Господь сказал: “На суд Я пришел в этот мир, чтобы невидящие видели, а видящие оказались слепы.” На это озлобленные враги, книжники и фарисеи, вероятно, с иронией и насмешкой Ему сказали: “Неужели и мы слепы?” И получили ответ, Господь им сказал: “Если бы вы были слепы, то не имели бы греха,” потому что, когда человек не знает, не ведает, он не может ничего сознательно нарушить и большого греха не совершает. Если даже сделал не так и Сам Господь не вменяет это ему в грех, если он не знал, что он грешит. Господь и говорит: “Если бы вы были слепы, то не имели бы этого греха, но так как вы сами утверждаете, что вы видите, то поэтому грех ваш остается на вас.”
Помните, что это очень страшный приговор, потому что произнес его Тот, Кто Один только может оправдать или осудить, и Он сказал, что грех их остается на них. Господь Иисус Христос дал бывшему слепцу не только физическое, но и духовное зрение. В то же самое время Евангелие показывает, как своим упорством враги Христовы все больше и больше ослепляют себя, оставаясь в своем заблуждении.
Когда Господь исцелил слепого человека, его спросили, как это произошло? Он ответил, что он не может ответить на этот вопрос: он был слеп, когда к нему подошел Господь. Вероятно он слышал, как Спасителя называли, поэтому он и сказал в ответ: “Человек, нарицаемый Иисус, положил брение мне на очи. Я после этого умылся в Силоаме, по Его повелению, и прозрел.” Они спросили его: “Кто Он?” Он ответил: “Не знаю.” Его повели к фарисеям, они тоже его стали допрашивать. Он коротко им сказал: “Брение положил мне на очи, я умылся и вижу.” Между фарисеями и между врагами Христовыми тут поднялся спор — “распря,” как в Евангелии сказано: одни говорили, что Этот Человек не от Бога, потому что субботы не хранит, т.е., закон. Другие возражали: как может грешный человек делать такие дела? Бывший слепец слышит эти речи, эту распрю и истина для него становится все яснее и яснее. И вот эти слова одной группы фарисеев (как может грешный человек такие знамения творить), для него и послужили руководящей нитью для дальнейшего. Его спрашивали не раз, а когда стали подвергать перекрестным вопросам — все одно и то же спрашивают и спрашивают, то в конце концов он им сказал: “Я сказал вам уже и вы не слышали, что вы опять хотите слышать? Или вы хотите быть Его учениками?” Они, осатаневшие враги Спасителя, хотят быть Его учениками?! Он и не подозревал, конечно, какой удар он им нанес этими словами. И они уже с гневом и злобно отвечают: “Ты — ученик Его, а мы Моисеевы ученики: мы знаем, что Моисею говорил Бог, а откуда Этот мы не знаем.”
Церковь, рассказавши сегодня нам об этом чуде Спасителя, в то же самое время от лица каждого из нас поет: “Душевными очами ослеплен, к Тебе, Христе, прихожу, яко же слепой от рождения.” Не так давно мы настойчиво Богу молились: “Даруй ми зрети моя прегрешения.” Если мы просим, чтобы нам зреть, видеть наши прегрешения, значит, мы их не видим, как должно. Это, как раз потому, что мы “душевными очами” ослеплены. Поэтому эта молитва церковная для каждого из нас вполне осмысленна и понятна. Да и святые отцы всегда говорят, что человек своих грехов как должно не видит.
Как давно мы уже приводили пример из жития одного подвижника, который молил Господа о том, чтобы Господь ему открыл, насколько человеческая природа повреждена грехом. И когда Господь в каком-то таинственном видении ему открыл, насколько человек испорчен грехом, то тот от ужаса почувствовал, что он может с ума сойти, помешаться, и стал просить, чтобы Господь скрыл от него это видение и больше не показывал. Вот, так испорчен человек грехом. Преподобный Макарий Египетский говорил, что бывает человек хороший, но глубже всего корни в его душе ядовитые. От этой порчи пришел нас исцелить наш Господь Иисус Христос, потому что никакая другая сила в мире от этой страшной порчи греховной не может избавить. Это как раз то, что совершенно не видят в наши дни теперешние реформаторы жизни, из которых каждый предлагает свое. Они все забывают, да и не знают, что человек есть грешное существо. Поэтому, как говорил Блаженный Августин, разница между людьми только в том, что один больше зол, а другой меньше. Нужно всегда сознавать, насколько мы грешны и испорчены грехом и просить, чтобы Господь просветил наши очи сердечные так, как Он просветил и физическое и духовное зрение у этого бывшего слепца, о котором мы слышали. Аминь.
Beloved brethren! Today we have heard in the Gospel that the true servants of the true God worship Him in Spirit and in Truth, and that God seeks, that is, He desires to have such worshippers. If God desires to have such worshippers, then it is obvious that he will receive only such worshippers and servants, and they only are pleasing to Him. This teaching was imparted to us by the Son of God Himself. We believe in the teaching of Christ! We accept the all-holy teaching of Christ with all our love! In order to follow Him carefully, let us look at what it means to worship God the Father in Spirit and in Truth.
Truth is our Lord Jesus Christ, as He testifies of Himself: I am the way, the truth, and the life (Jn. 4:16). The Truth is the Word of God: Thy word is truth (Jn. 17:17;). This Word was pre-eternally in God, it was pronounced by God and to God; this Word is God, this Word is the Creator of everything that exists, both visible and invisible (cf. Jn. 1:1,5; Col. 1:16). This Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (Jn. 1:14). No man hath seen God at any time, but the Word of God, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him (Jn. 1:18). The Son of God, the Word of God confessed God before people, and fully manifested God to people; the Son of God showed people the truth that was incomprehensible to them, having irrefutably witnessed to it and impressed it upon them by abundantly bestowing divine grace. And of His fullness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (Jn. 1:16–17). This means that Jesus Christ brought not some more or less detailed and clear understanding of grace and truth, but the grace itself, the truth itself, essentially bestowed upon people, instilled in people. We have been made partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4).
Truth has a characteristic Spirit. This spirit is called the Spirit of Truth (cf. Jn. 15:26; 16:13). It is Spirit, proceeding from the Father (cf. Jn. 15:26). It is the Holy Spirit of God (cf. Jn. 14:26). It is the Spirit of the Son (cf. Gal. 4:6), as inseparably close to the Son, as comprising together with the Father and the Son one undivided and unmingled Divine Essence. Accepting the Truth, we also accept the Holy Spirit—that is why the All-Holy Truth says of Himself, that He will send the Holy Spirit from the Father to His disciples. Naturally, the Holy Spirit of Truth will be present where Holy Truth acts, and will leave the effect of its action. In like manner, where the Holy Spirit works, there will be an abundant manifestation of Truth, as the Lord also said to His disciples: Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth (Jn. 16:13). Describing the wondrous relationship of the Divine Word to the Divine Spirit, the Lord said of the Spirit: He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine (Jn. 16:14–15). The Spirit shows and manifests to people the Son co-natural to Him. The Holy Spirit spiritually forms the true Christian and transforms him into a dwelling place of God (cf. Eph. 2:22); he represents Christ and instills Him in the inner man (cf. Eph. 3:16–17). He makes people God’s children by adoption, making them like unto Christ, establishing Christ-like qualities in them (cf. Jn. 14:6). People who have been made children of God by adoption turn to Him in their prayers as to their Father, because the Holy Spirit very clearly and tangibly witnesses to the spirit of a person renewed by Him (cf. Rom 8:16) concerning that person’s union with God, his adoption by God. And because ye are sons, says the Apostle, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father (Gal. 4:6). Such worshippers are recognized as true worshippers of God! Such worshippers, who worship God in Spirit and in Truth, seek and receive God. There is no knowledge of God outside of true Christianity, and no service of God.
No man cometh unto the Father, but by me (Jn 14:6), said the Lord. There is no God for those who do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ: Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father (1Jn. 2:23), and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him (Jn. 3:36). It is impossible to approach God, or to enter into any kind of communion with Him in any other way than through our Lord Jesus Christ, the only intermediary, intercessor, and means of communion between God and man! There is no true knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ without the mediation of the Holy Spirit! No man, says the Apostle, can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost (1 Cor. 12:3). Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his (Rom. 8:9). There is no virtue outside of Christianity that is worthy of Heaven! “Nothing good,” says St. Mark the Ascetic, “can be believed in, or acted upon unless it be of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.” Unworthy of God are natural human good works, which proceed from our fallen nature, in which goodness is mixed with evil, and in which goodness is for the most part barely noticeable amidst the preponderance of evil. Fallen nature is capable exclusively of evil, as God Himself testified: The imagination of man is intently bent upon evil things from his youth (Gen. 8:21); If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children (Mt. 7:11; Lk. 11:13). Such is the worth before the Gospels and God of natural human goodness and the activity proceeding from it. In vain does fallen nature glorify its great and famous good works! Such self-praise shows a terrible blindness! Such self-praise is an involuntary reproach against the famous works of men, inspired and nourished by vainglory. The stench of pride coming from these whited sepulchers is an abomination to God; pleasing to Him is the incense of humility.
That is why the Lord commanded fallen and blinded mankind to deny its nature, for man is unconscious of his woeful fallenness. To the contrary, he sees it as a magnificent triumph, and seeks to escalate this triumph. For the sake of salvation, we must renounce sin! But sin has become so much a part of us that it has become our nature, our very soul. In order to renounce sin, it has become essentially necessary to renounce our fallen nature, to renounce our soul (cf. Mt. 10:39), to renounce not only the obviously evil deeds, but also the good deeds of the old man that the world honors and glorifies; it is essentially necessary to replace our manner of thinking with the mind of Christ, and replace our activity motivated by the senses and the dictates of carnal mindedness with the scrupulous fulfillment of Christ’s commandments. If ye continue in my word, said the Lord, then are ye my disciples indeed. And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (Jn. 8:31-32). What remarkable and deep words! Their direct impact consists in the fact that sin holds man in slavery only through incorrect and false understanding. It is likewise clear that the destructive incorrectness of these understandings also consist precisely in an acceptance as good what is in essence not good, and in the non-acceptance as evil what is in essence, murderous evil.
He who is from God, hears the words of God (cf. Jn. 8:43), said the Lord. Brethren! Let us humble ourselves before our Lord God! Unlike the hardened Jews, who rejected both the Lord and His teachings, let us show submission to the Lord and obedience to His all-holy and saving teachings! Let us set aside the manner of thinking that comes from our fallen nature and from the world, which is at enmity with God! Let us assimilate the manner of thinking that the Lord offers us through His holy Gospels! Let us follow the Truth, and we shall inherit the Truth. The Truth frees the human mind from the invisible bonds of error by which sin has shackled it. Moreover, the omnipotent Truth, having given spiritual freedom to the mind, renewed and enlivened it by life from above—by the Word of God, brings it out onto the path of Christ’s commandments, and removes it from the way of unrighteousness (Ps. 118:29). The soul enlivened by the Truth hymns together with the inspired prophet: The way of Thy commandments have I run, when Thou didst enlarge my heart. Set before me for a law, O Lord, the way of Thy statutes, and I will seek after it continually. Give me understanding, and I will search out Thy law, and I will keep it with whole heart (Ps. 118:32–34). Such a soul will unfailingly become a partaker of the Holy Spirit, Who cannot but be present where Divine Truth is present and reigns; the Truth, Who in His mysterious counsel with the All-Holy Truth, speaks of Himself thus: I am a partaker with all them that fear Thee, and with them that keep Thy commandments (Ps. 118:63).
As long as man abides in his fallen nature, as long as he is immersed in the darkness of his exceedingly deep ignorance, he does not know how he should pray, he does not know what he should pray for (cf. Rom 8:26), and he is incapable of serving God. Only faith in Christ gives knowledge of Truth; faith, expressed by the fulfillment of Christ’s commandments, draws the grace of the Holy Spirit to the heart of the faithful, as the God-inspired prophet said: I opened my mouth and drew in my breath, for I longed for Thy commandments (Ps. 118:131). Only a true Christian, a Christian in faith and deed, can be a true worshipper of God, worshipping and serving God as the Father, in Spirit and in Truth. Amen.
 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me… Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love.
 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.
 St. Mark the Ascetic, “On Spiritual Law, The Philokalia [Russian version, 1:2].
 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
 In the English, KJV, this is stated as: I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word (Jn. 8:42–43).
According to the explanation of this passage by St. Poemen the Great, in the Alphabetical Patericon [Russian].
The Reading from the Acts of the Holy Apostles (11:19-26, 29-30)
In those days, the Apostles which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose on account of Stephen, travelled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, preaching the Word to none but unto the Jews only. And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke unto the Greeks, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned unto the Lord. Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem, and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. And when he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad and exhorted them all that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord, for he was a good man and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith. And many people were added unto the Lord. Then Barnabas departed to Tarsus to seek out Saul; and when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass that for a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught many people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch. Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren who dwelt in Judea. This also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to John (4:5-42)
At that time, Jesus cometh to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with His journey, sat thus by the well; and it was about the sixth hour. There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said unto her, ‘Give Me to drink.’ (For His disciples had gone away unto the city to buy meat.) Then said the woman of Samaria unto Him, ‘How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest a drink of me, who am a woman of Samaria?’ For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. Jesus answered and said unto her, ‘If thou knewest the gift of God and who it is that saith to thee, ‘Give Me to drink,’ thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water.’ The woman said unto Him, ‘Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. From whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank thereof himself, and his children and his cattle?’ Jesus answered and said unto her, ‘Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again, but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.’ The woman said unto Him, ‘Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.’ Jesus said unto her, ‘Go, call thy husband, and come hither.’ The woman answered and said, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said unto her, ‘Thou hast well said, ‘I have no husband’; for thou hast had five husbands, and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband. In that thou saidst truly.’ The woman said unto Him, ‘Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and ye say that Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.’ Jesus said unto her, ‘Woman, believe Me, the hour cometh when ye shall neither on this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.’ The woman said unto Him, ‘I know that Messiah cometh, who is called Christ. When He has come, He will tell us all things.’ Jesus said unto her, ‘I that speak unto thee am He.’ And upon this came His disciples and marveled that He talked with the woman; yet no man said, ‘What seekest Thou?’ or, ‘Why talkest Thou with her?’ The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city and said to the men, ‘Come, see a man who told me all things that ever I did. Is not this the Christ?’ Then they went out of the city and came unto Him. Meanwhile His disciples entreated Him, saying, ‘Master, eat.’ But He said unto them, ‘I have meat to eat that ye know not of.’ Therefore the disciples said one to another, ‘Hath any man brought Him aught to eat?’ Jesus said unto them, ‘My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work. Say not ye, ‘There are yet four months and then cometh the harvest’? Behold, I say unto you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages and gathereth fruit unto life eternal, that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, ‘One soweth and another reapeth.’ I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour; other men laboured, and ye have entered into their labours.’ And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the saying of the woman who testified, ‘He told me all that ever I did.’ So when the Samaritans had come unto Him, they besought Him that He would tarry with them; and He abode there two days. And many more believed because of His own word, and said unto the woman, ‘Now we believe, not because of thy saying, for we have heard Him ourselves and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.’
Troparion of the Resurrection (Tone 4)
Having learned the joyful proclamation of the Resurrection from the angel, and having cast off the ancestral condemnation, the women disciples of the Lord spake to the apostles exultantly: Death is despoiled and Christ God is risen, granting to the world great mercy.
Troparion of Mid-Pentecost (Tone 8)
In the midst of the Feast, give Thou my thirsty soul to drink of the waters of piety; for Thou, O Saviour, didst cry out to all: Whosoever is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Wherefore, O Well-spring of life, Christ our God, glory be to Thee.
Kontakion for the Samaritan Woman (Tone 8)
Having come to the well in faith, the Samaritan woman saw Thee, the Water of Wisdom, whereof having drunk abundantly, she, the renowned one, inherited the kingdom on high for ever.
Kontakion of Mid-Pentecost (Tone 4)
In the midst of the Judaic feast, Thou didst say to those present, O Christ God, Master and Creator of all: Come ye, and receive the Water of immortality. Wherefore, we fall down before Thee, crying out in faith and saying: Grant us Thy mercy and compassion, for Thou art the well-spring of our life.
The New Testament describes the familiar account of the “woman at the well” (John 4:5-42), who was a Samaritan.
Up to that point she had led a sinful life, one which resulted in a rebuke from Jesus Christ. However, she responded to Christ’s stern admonition with genuine repentance, was forgiven her sinful ways, and became a convert to the Christian Faith – taking the name ‘Photini’ at Baptism, which literally means “the enlightened one.”
A significant figure in the Johannine community, the Samaritan Woman, like many other women, contributed to the spread of Christianity. She therefore occupies a place of honor among the apostles. In Greek sermons from the fourth to the fourteenth centuries she is called “apostle” and “evangelist.” In these sermons the Samaritan Woman is often compared to the male disciples and apostles and found to surpass them.
Later, Byzantine hagiographers developed the story of the Samaritan Woman, beginning where Saint John left off. At Pentecost Saint Photini received baptism, along with her five sisters, Anatole, Photo, Photis, Paraskeve, Kyriake, and her two sons, Photeinos and Joseph. She then began a missionary career, traveling far and wide, preaching the good news of the Messiah’s coming, His death and resurrection. When Nero, the emperor of Rome, began to persecute Christians, Photini and her son Joseph were in Carthage, in Africa, where she was preaching the Christian gospel. After Jesus appeared to Photini in a dream, she sailed to Rome. Her son and many Christians from Africa accompanied her. Photini’s arrival and activity aroused curiosity in the capital city. Everyone talked about her, “Who is this woman?” they asked.
“She came here with a crowd of followers and she preaches Christ with great boldness.”
Soldiers were ordered to bring her to the emperor, but Photini anticipated them. Before they could arrest her, Photini, with her son Joseph and her Christian friends, went to Nero. When the emperor saw them, he asked why they had come. Photini answered, “We have come to teach you to believe in Christ.” The half-mad ruler of the Roman Empire did not frighten her.
She wanted to convert him! Nero asked the saints their names. Again Photini answered. By name she introduced herself, her five sisters and younger son. The emperor then demanded to know whether they had all agreed to die for the Nazarene. Photini spoke for them. “Yes, for the love of Him we rejoice and in His name we’ll gladly die.” Hearing their defiant words, Nero ordered their hands beaten with iron rods for three hours. At the end of each hour another persecutor took up the beating. The saints, however, felt no pain. Nothing happened to their hands. Photini joyfully quoted words of a psalm by David: “God is my help. No matter what anyone does to me, I shall not be afraid.” Perplexed by the Christian’s endurance and confidence, Nero ordered the men thrown into jail. Photini and her five sisters were brought to the golden reception hall in the imperial palace. There, the six women were seated on golden thrones, In front of them stood a large golden table covered with gold coins, jewels and dresses. Nero hoped to tempt the women by this display of wealth and luxury. Nero then ordered his daughter Domnina, with her slave girls, to go speak with the Christian women.
Women, he thought, would succeed in persuading their Christian sisters to deny their God. Domnina greeted Photini graciously, mentioning the name of Christ. On hearing the princess’ greeting, the saint thanked God. She then embraced and kissed Domnina. The women talked.
But, the outcome of the women’s talk was not what Nero wished. Photini catechized Domnina and her hundred slave girls and baptized them all. She gave the name Anthousa to Nero’s daughter. After her baptism, Anthousa immediately ordered all the gold and jewels on the golden table distributed to the poor of Rome.
When the emperor heard that his own daughter had been converted to Christianity, he condemned Photini and all her companions to death by fire. For seven days the furnace burned, But when the door of the furnace was opened, it was seen that the fire had not harmed the saints. Next the emperor tried to destroy the saints with poison, Photini offered to be the first to drink it. “O King,” she said, “I will drink the poison first so that you might see the power of my Christ and God.” All the saints then drank the poison after her. None suffered any ill effects from it. In vain Nero subjected Photini, her sisters, sons and friends to every known torture. The saints survived unscathed to taunt and ridicule their persecutor. For three years they were held in a Roman prison. Saint Photini transformed it into a “house of God.” Many Romans came to the prison, were converted and baptized. Finally, the enraged tyrant had all the saints, except for Photini, beheaded. She was thrown first into a deep, dry well and then into prison again. Photini now grieved that she was alone, that she had not received the crown of martyrdom together with her five sisters, Anatole, Photo, Photis, Paraskeve and Kyriake and her two sons, Photeinos and Joseph. Night and day she prayed for release from this life. One night, God appeared to her, made the sign of the cross over her three times. The vision filled her with joy. Many days later, while she hymned and blessed God, Saint Photini gave her soul into God’s hands. The Samaritan Woman conversed with Christ by the well of Jacob, near the city of Sychar. She drank of the “living water” and gained everlasting life and glory. For generation after generation, Orthodox Christians have addressed this prayer to the woman exalted by the Messiah when He sat by the well in Samaria and talked with her:
The precious head of St Photini is preserved to day in the Monastery of Grigoriu from the Holy Mt. Athos, Greece.
The Presentation Sisterhood is a small monastic community in the far south of NSW on the banks of the Snowy River. The Cabramatta Parish has supported this community since it was founded in 1999 and continues to do so via annual fundraising initiatives. A lot of buildings have already been constructed and this year we are fundraising specifically for the new church building at the monastery.
On Sunday 30 July 2023 there will be a fundraising dinner in the Cabramatta Church hall.
The event will begin with a talk by Father Nicholas Karipoff entitled “Modern Temptations in Church Life” and followed by choral performance by the The Sydney Russian Orthodox Womens Choir directed by Andrei Laptev. These beginning items will be lived streamed on the Cabramatta Church YouTube site. Noting that it is a fundraiser initiative, donations are sought from people who will be watching the live stream.
The Reading from the Acts of the Holy Apostles (9:32-42)
In those days, as Peter was passing throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints who dwelt at Lydda. And there he found a certain man named Aeneas, who had kept to his bed for eight years and was sick with the palsy. And Peter said unto him, ‘Æneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed.’ And he arose immediately. And all who dwelt in Lydda and Sharon saw him, and turned to the Lord. Now there was at Joppa a certain disciple named Tabitha (which interpreted is called Dorcas). This woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did. And it came to pass in those days that she was sick and died; and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper chamber. And inasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he should not delay to come to them. Then Peter arose and went with them. And when he had come, they brought him into the upper chamber; and all the widows stood by him weeping, and showing the coats and garments which Dorcas made while she was with them. But Peter put them all outside and kneeled down and prayed, and turning to the body, he said, ‘Tabitha, arise.’ And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. And he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and calling in the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.
The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to John (5:1-15)
At that time, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of invalid folk — blind, halt, withered — waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool and troubled the water. Whosoever then first stepped in, after the troubling of the water, was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. And a certain man was there who had an infirmity for thirty and eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had been in that state a long time, He said unto him, ‘Wilt thou be made whole?’ The infirm man answered Him, ‘Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool; but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.’ Jesus said unto him, ‘Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.’ And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed and walked. Now it was the Sabbath on that day. The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, ‘It is the Sabbath day; it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.’ He answered them, ‘He that made me whole said unto me, “Take up thy bed and walk.”’ Then they asked him, ‘What man is that who said unto thee, “Take up thy bed and walk”?’ And he that was healed knew not who it was, for Jesus had removed Himself away, a multitude being in that place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said unto him, ‘Behold, thou art made whole. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.’ The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him whole.
Troparion of the Resurrection (Tone 3)
Let the Heavens be glad; let earthly things rejoice; for the Lord hath wrought might with His arm. He hath trampled down death by death; the first-born of the dead hath He become. From the belly of hades hath He delivered us and hath granted to the world great mercy.
Kontakion for the Paralytic (Tone 3)
As of old Thou didst raise the paralytic, O Lord, by Thy Divine presence, raise my soul which is paralysed grievously by all manner of sins and unseemly deeds, that being saved, I may cry out: O compassionate Christ, glory be to Thy power.
Kontakion of Pascha (Tone 8)
Though Thou didst descend into the grave, O Immortal One, yet didst Thou destroy the power of hades. And didst arise as victor, O Christ God, calling to the myrrh-bearing women: Rejoice! and giving peace unto Thine apostles: Thou Who dost grant resurrection to the fallen.
The Reading from the Acts of the Holy Apostles (6:1-7)
In those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them and said, ‘It is not fitting that we should leave the Word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brethren, look ye out among you for seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.’ And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip and Prochorus and Nicanor, and Timon and Parmenas and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch, whom they set before the apostles. And when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. And the Word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly, and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.
The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Mark (15:43-16:8)
At that time, Joseph of Arimathea, an honourable council member who also was waiting for the Kingdom of God, came and went in boldly unto Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. And Pilate wondered if He were already dead; and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether He had been any while dead. And when he learned it from the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. And Joseph bought fine linen, and took Him down and wrapped Him in the linen. And he laid Him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre. And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses beheld where He was laid. And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint Him. And very early in the morning on the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves, ‘Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?’ And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away, for it was very large. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were frightened. And he said unto them, ‘Be not afraid. Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. Behold the place where they laid Him. But go your way. Tell His disciples and Peter that He goeth before you into Galilee. There shall ye see Him, as He said unto you.’ And they went out quickly and fled from the sepulchre, for they trembled and were amazed; neither said they any thing to any man, for they were afraid.
Troparion of the Resurrection (Tone 2)
When Thou didst descend unto death, O Life Immortal, then didst Thou slay hades with the lightning of Thy Divinity. And when Thou didst also raise the dead out of the nethermost depths, all the hosts of the heavens cried out: O Life-giver, Christ our God, glory be to Thee.
Troparion for Righteous Joseph (Tone 2)
The noble Joseph, taking Thine immaculate Body down from the Tree, and having wrapped It in pure linen and spices, laid It in a new tomb. But on the third day Thou didst arise, O Lord, granting to the world great mercy.
Kontakion for the Myrrh-bearers (Tone 2)
When Thou didst cry, Rejoice, unto the myrrh-bearers, Thou didst make the lamentation of Eve the first mother to cease by Thy Resurrection, O Christ God. And Thou didst bid Thine apostles to preach: The Saviour is risen from the grave.
Kontakion of Pascha (Tone 8)
Though Thou didst descend into the grave, O Immortal One, yet didst Thou destroy the power of hades. And didst arise as victor, O Christ God, calling to the myrrh-bearing women: Rejoice! and giving peace unto Thine apostles: Thou Who dost grant resurrection to the fallen.
(Gospel of Saint Mark 15:43-16:8)
Translated by Fr. Hierodeacon Photios Touloumes+
The resurrection of the Lord is the regeneration of human nature. It is the resuscitation and re-creation of the first Adam, whom sin led to death, and who because of death, again was made to retrace his steps on the earth from which he was made. The resurrection is the return to immortal life. Whereas no one saw that first man when he was created and given life—because no man existed yet at that time—woman was the first person to see him after he had received the breath of life by divine inbreathing. For after him, Eve was the first human being. Likewise no one saw the second Adam, who is the Lord, rise from the dead, for none of his followers were near by and the soldiers guarding the tomb were so shaken that they were like dead men. Following the resurrection, however, it was a woman who saw Him first before the others, as we have heard from Saint Mark’s Gospel today. After his resurrection Jesus appeared on the morning of the Lord’s Day [Sunday] to Mary Magdalene first.
It seems that the Evangelist is speaking clearly about the time of the Lord’s resurrection – that it was morning – that he appeared to Mary Magdalene, and that he appeared to her at the time of the resurrection. But, if we pay some attention it will become clear that this is not what he says. Earlier in this passage, in agreement with the other Evangelists, Saint Mark says that Mary Magdalene had come to the tomb earlier with the other Myrrh-bearing women, and that she went away when she saw it empty. Therefore, the Lord had risen much earlier on the morning on which she saw him. But wishing to fix the time more exactly, he doesn’t say simply “morning,” as is the case here, but “very early in the morning.” Thus the expression “and the rising of the sun” as used there refers to that time when the slightest light precedes from the east on the horizon. This is what Saint John also wants to indicate when he says that Mary Magdalene came to the tomb in the morning while it was still dark and saw the stone pulled away from it.
According to Saint John, she did not come to the tomb alone, even though she left the tomb without yet having seen the Lord. For she ran to Peter and John, and instead of announcing to them that the Lord was risen, told them that he had been taken from the tomb. Therefore, she did not yet know about the resurrection. It is not Mary Magdalene’s claim that Christ appeared to her first but that he appeared after the actual beginning of the day. There is, of course, a certain shadow covering this matter on the part of the Evangelists that I shall, through your love, uncover. The good news of the resurrection of Christ was received from the Lord first, before all others, by the Theotokos. This is truly meet and right. She was the first to see him after the resurrection and she had to joy to hear his voice first. Moreover, she not only saw him with her eyes and heard him with her ears but with her hands she was the first and only one to touch his spotless feet, even if the Evangelists do not mention these things clearly. They do not want to present the mother’s witness so as not to give the nonbelievers a reason to be suspicious. In that now my words about the joy of the risen one are directed to believers, the opportunity of this feast moves us to explain what is relative to the Myrrh-bearers. Justification is given by him who said: There is nothing hidden that shall not be made known, and this also will be made known.
The Myrrh-bearers are all those women who followed with the mother of the Lord, stayed with her during those hours of the salvific passion, and with pathos anointed him with myrrh. After Joseph and Nicodemos asked for and received the body of the Lord from Pilate, they took it down from the cross, wrapped it in a cloth with strong spices, placed it in a carved out tomb, and closed the door of the tomb with a large stone. The Myrrh-bearers were close by and watched, and as the Evangelist Mark relates, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were seated opposite the grave. With the expression “and the other Mary” he means the mother of Christ without a doubt. She was also called the mother of Iakovos [James] and Joses, who were the children of Joseph, her betrothed. It was not only they who were watching the entombment of the Lord but also the other women. As Saint Luke relates:
And the women, also, who had come with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulcher and how his body was laid. These women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of Iakovos, and the other women who were with them.
He writes that they went and bought spices and myrrh; for they did not yet clearly know that he is truly the perfume of life for those who approach him in faith, just as he is also the odor of death for those who remain unbelievers to the end. They did not yet clearly know that the odor of his clothes, the odor of his own body, is greater than all perfumes, that his name is like myrrh that is poured out to cover the world with his divine fragrance. For those who wanted to remain close by the body, the contrived an antidote of perfumes for the stench of decomposition and anointed it.
Thus they prepared the myrrh and the spices and rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment. For they had not yet experienced the true sabbath, nor did they understand that exceedingly blessed sabbath that transports us from the confines of hell to the perfection of the bright and divine heights of heaven. Saint Luke says that “on the first day of the week, very early in the morning,” they came to the sepulchre bearing the spices that they had prepared. And Saint Matthew says that those who came “late on the Sabbath towards the dawn of the Lord’s day” were two in number. Saint John says that it was only Mary Magdalene who came, and that it was “morning, even though it was still dark.” But Saint Mark says that three women came very early in the morning on the first day of the week. By ‘’the first day of the week” all the Evangelists mean the Lord’s Day [Sunday] and they use expressions like “late on the Sabbath,” ”early dawn,” ”early dawn,” “early morning,” “morning,” and “even though it was still dark” [to refer to the Lord’s Day which is Sunday]. They mean the day-breaking hour when the darkness fights with the light and the hour when the eastern part of the horizon begins to become light as it presages the day. Observing from afar, one sees the light changing colors in the east at about the ninth hour of the night, which colors remain until the fulfillment of the day three hours later. It seems that the Evangelists disagree some-what concerning both the time of the visits and the number of women [that are involved]. This is attributable to the fact that, as we said, the myrrh-bearers were many; that they did not come to the sepulchre one time only but two and three times, and not always in the same groups; that all the visits were at dawn but not at exactly the same hour. Mary Magdalene also came by herself without the others and stayed longer. Each of the Evangelists, therefore, relates one journey of some of the women and leaves the others. Consequently, by comparing all the Evangelists—and I said this before–I conclude that the Theotokos was the first who came to the grave of her son and God, together with Mary Magdalene. We are informed of this by the Evangelist Matthew who said: In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre (Matthew 28:1)
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary–who was, of course, the Mother of the Lord-went to look at the sepulchre. And behold there was a great earthquake: for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door of the tomb and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightening and his raiment white as snow. And for fear of him the guards did shake and become like dead men.
The other women came after the earthquake and the flight of the guards, and found the grave open and the stone rolled back. The Virgin Mother, however, was there when the quake occurred, when the stone was rolled back, when the grave opened, and while the guards were there, even though they were completely shaken with fear. That is why the guards immediately thought of fleeing when they came to from the earthquake but the Mother of God rejoiced without fear at what she saw. I believe that the life-bearing grave opened first for her. For her and by her grace all things were revealed for us, everything that is in heaven above and on the earth below. For her sake the angel shone so brightly so that, even though it was still dark, she saw by means of the bright angelic light not only the empty grave but also the burial garments carefully arranged and in an orderly fashion, thereby witnessing in many ways to the resurrection of the one who was entombed. He was, after all, that same angel of the Annunciation, Gabriel; he watched her proceed rapidly towards the grave and immediately descended. He who in the beginning had told her “fear not, Mary, you have found grace with God,” now directs the same exhortation to the Ever Virgin. He came to announce the resurrection from the dead to her who, with seedless conception, gave him birth; to raise the stone, to reveal the empty grave and the burial garments, so that in this manner the good news would be verified for her. He writes: And the angel answered the women and said: fear not. Do you seek the Christ whom they crucified? He is risen. Here is the place where the Lord was placed. If you see the soldiers overcome with fear, do not be afraid. I know that you seek the Christ whom they crucified. He is risen. He is not here. For not only can He not be held by the keys, the bars, and the seals of ****, of death, and of the grave, but he is even the Lord of the immortal angels of heaven, and the only Lord of the whole world. See the place where the Lord lay. Go quickly and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead. And they departed, he says, with fear and great joy. At this point I am of the opinion that Mary Magdalene and the other women who had come up to that point were still frightened. For they did not understand the meaning of the angel’s powerful words nor could they contain to the end the power of the light so as to see and understand with exactitude. But I think that the Mother of God made this great joy her own, since she comprehended the words of the angel. Her whole person radiated from the light in that she was all pure and full of divine grace. She firmly appropriated all these signs and the truth and she believed the archangel, since, of course, he formerly had shown himself to be worthy of trust for her in other matters. And why shouldn’t the Virgin understand with divine wisdom. what had occurred in that she observed the events at first hand? She saw the great earthquake and the angel descending from heaven like lightening, she saw the guards fall as dead men, the removal of the stone, the emptying of the tomb, and the great miracle of the burial garments which were kept in place by smyrna and aloes, even though they contained no body. In addition to all of these things, she saw the joyous countenance of the angel and heard his joyful message. But Mary Magdalene, in responding to the annunciation, acted as if she had not heard the angel at all–he had not in fact spoken directly to her. She testifies only to the emptying of the tomb and says nothing about the burial garments, but runs directly to Peter and to the other disciples, as Saint John says. The Mother of God went back to the tomb again when she met the other women and, as Saint Matthew says, behold Jesus met them and told them to rejoice.
So you see that even before Mary Magdalene, the Mother of God saw Him who for our salvation suffered and was buried and rose again in the flesh.
And they approached, touched his feet and worshipped him. Just as the Theotokos alone under-stood the power of the angelic words–even if she heard the good news of the resurrection together with Mary Magdalene–when she met her son and God with the other women she saw and recognized the risen one before all the other women. And falling down, she touched his feet and became his apostle to his apostles. We learn from Saint John that Mary Magdalene was not with the Mother of God when, on her return to the sepulchre, she encountered the Lord. He writes: She runs to Peter Simon and the other disciple whom Jesus loved and tells them: they have taken the Lord from the tomb and we don’t know where they have put him.
If she had seen and touched him with her hands and heard him speak, how could she say the words “they have taken him and placed him elsewhere, and we don’t know where?” But after Peter and John ran to the grave and saw the burial clothes and returned, Saint John says that Mary Magdalene was standing near the tomb and crying. You see that not only had she not yet seen him but neither had she been informed of the resurrection. And when the angels that appeared asked her “why are you crying, woman,” she again answered as if she thought that he was dead. Thus when, upon turning, she saw Jesus and still did not understand, she answered his question “why do you weep” in the same manner. Not until he called her by her name and showed her that he was the same did she understand. Then, when she also fell down before him wishing to kiss his feet, she heard him say: “Don’t touch me.” From this we understand that when he appeared previously to his mother and to the women who accompanied her, he allowed only his mother to touch his feet, even if Matthew makes this a common concession to all the women. He did not wish, for the reason we mentioned in the beginning, to suddenly present the appearance of the mother into the issue. It was the Ever Virgin Mary who came to the grave first and she was the first to receive the good news of the resurrection. Many women then gathered and they also saw the stone rolled back and heard the angels, but they were separated on their return. As Saint Mark says, since they were afraid, some of the women left the tomb in a frightened and ecstatic state without saying anything to anyone. Other women followed the Mother of the Lord and because they happened to be with her they saw and heard the Lord. Mary Magdalene left to go to Peter and John, and with them was returning to the grave. And even though they left, she stayed and she also was made worthy to see the Lord and to be sent by him to the apostles. Thus, as Saint John says, she again comes to them shouting to all that she had seen the Lord and that he had told her these things.
And Saint Mark says that this appearance happened in the morning, the indisputable beginning of the day, when the dawn had passed. But he does not contend that the resurrection of the Lord occurred at that time, nor that it was his first appearance. Therefore, we have information concerning the Myrrh-bearers that is exact and the general agreement of the four Evangelists as a higher confirmation. But even with all that they had heard on the same day of the resurrection from the Myrrh-bearers, from Peter, and even from Luke and Cleopas that the Lord lives and that they had seen him, the disciples showed disbelief. That is why He castigates them when he appeared to all of them gathered together. When, however, he showed them many times through the witness of many that he was alive, not only did they all believe but they preached it everywhere.
Their voice poured out on all the earth and their words spread to the ends of the earth; and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by signs that accompanied it. For until the teaching is preached to all the earth, the signs were indispensable. Exceptional signs were needed to represent and certify the truth of the message. But excellent signs are not needed for those who accept the word through firm belief. Who are these [who have firm belief]? They are those whose deeds bear witness [to their faith]. “Show me your faith in your deeds,” he says.“Who is faithful? Let him manifest it with the deeds of his good life.” For who will believe that he who commits wicked acts and is oriented to the earth and material things has a true, exalted, great, and heavenly under-standing which is, so to speak, exactly what piety is? Brethren, what does it profit a man to say that he has divine faith if he does not have deeds analogous to the faith? What did the lamps profit the foolish maidens when they had no oil, in other words, the deeds of love and of compassion? What did it profit that rich man who, when he was burning in the unquenchable flame because of his indifference to Lazarus, invoked the father of Abraham? What did it profit that a man to accept an invitation to the divine wedding and that incorruptible bridal chamber when he did not have a suitable garment of good deeds? Of course, in so much as he believed anyway, he received an invitation and went to sit amongst those holy ones who were at the banquet. But he also received the examination and was ashamed because he was clothed in the wickedness of his attitude and works, through which his hands and feet were tied and he was lowered to Gehenna where wailing and gnashing of teeth reverberates. May no one who has the name of Christ experience [such a thing]. Rather let us all manifest a life analogous with the faith and enter the bridal chamber of unstained joy and eternal life with the saints, which is the resting place of all who perceive the true joy.
Christ is Risen!
Beloved brothers, so Bright Week has passed and taken with it our deeds to the throne of the Heavenly Master and Judge: there, brothers, there are our deeds now. I say this in order to frighten with the fear of the heavenly judgment those who unworthily, not Christian-like, spent the feast of the bright Resurrection of Christ and to comfort those who spent it with temperance and spiritual joy.
How did very many spend the feast of the bright Resurrection? I would not like to call to remembrance foul human deeds but they, together with those that performed them, need to be remembered and judged on be-half of God. The all-bright feast was met, after the bright Paschal service, with dark deeds: intemperance and drunkenness, fights, cursing, and all types of sin. Consider that we fasted before the feast only in order to, with even more eagerness, rush into all fleshly, sinful deeds so that we can unashamedly and with insolence indulge in every iniquity. Alas! Woe unto us!
All those who met the feast with intemperance and drunkenness, adul-tery, cursing, and other similar deeds of the flesh lost all the benefit which they had received (if they even received any) from the fast, lost the bene-fit from repentance and communion of the Holy Mysteries, trampled them as an unreasonable animal under their feet, lost the acceptable time for salvation, given them by the mercy of the Lord, time which will not be re-turned. It was proper to say to you during the fast, behold, now is the ac-cepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation (2 Cor. 6:2) for it was just then that you had come to the saving font of repentance and to the all-cleansing, true Mysteries of the body and blood of the Lord. Now your confession and communion is put off until the next fast but who knows if the Lord will vouchsafe you to again confess and commune? Who knows if you will repose in those very iniquities with which again, after the font of repentance, you have defiled yourself? How painful, how piteous, beloved brothers, that so soon you have turned out to be betrayers of Christ and have given yourself over to the devil to serve him, the original murderer, the author of, and instructor in of every type of sin! You are, using the words of the Savior, and I, a great sinner, am as well are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do (John 8:44).
What, then, remains for us to do, beloved brothers? To pray and weep for our sins. To weep that not Christian-like and not even human-like did many of us met the feast but like vile idol worshipers and like wild ani-mals, which have not been fed for a long time with their favorite food. To weep that we have trampled upon the great, soul-saving Mysteries of Christ, that is, repentance and communion, and counted them as nought. To weep that the time, given for salvation, we have thoughtlessly lost. May we weep and pray to the Lord that He “didst not become angry with us neither didst destroy us with our iniquities” (First morning prayer) but would return us to the way of repentance and make us skilled performers of His commandments. Let us firmly decide from now on not to give our-selves over to intemperance and drunkenness and all the sins which fol-low and with tears ask the Lord that He, with the Grace of the Holy Spirit, would strengthen us in our intentions and good deeds.
Brothers! May we all shed tears for we all unworthily met the great feast of the Lord and angered our Lord; not in this way, not in this way, indeed, should we meet the feasts of the Lord. We need to meet them with spir-itual joy in the Lord, for our deliverance from sins and for our eternal sal-vation through Christ, the Son of God, with deeds of mercy, temperance from passions, visiting the church of God in spirit and truth and with sim-plicity in food and clothing.
O, you, decorated with gold and a multitude of precious fabrics, women and maids! In the name of the Lord, I direct my speech to you! What a multitude of poor would you have been able to cause to rejoice on the all-bright day of the Resurrection of Christ and, in that way, worthily meet that great feast, if you would have, in generosity and Christian love, changed even a few of these decorations into money and given that money to the poor who are so many in our city? Would it not have been reasonable, in a Christian way, if you had fewer precious clothing and the money remaining you had given to the poor? What rich mercy would you have received on that day from Christ the Lord? Yes, truly Christian-like would you have then met the feast of Christ’s Resurrection. But now what? You are decorated like idols but the members of Christ are without clothes; you are satiated but the members of Christ are in want; you roll in every possible pleasure but those are in tears; we are in rich and deco-rated dwellings but those are in cramped conditions and uncleanness, in dwellings which are often not any better than a pigsty. We do not have Christian love and, therefore, there is no true feast of the Resurrection of Christ, for those truly celebrate the Resurrection who themselves are raised from dead deeds by deeds of virtue and Christian faith and love, who have trampled on intemperance, luxury, and all of the passions. Brothers! May we celebrate the feasts of the Lord as Christians and not as pagans! Amen.
Евангелист Иоанн отмечает, что при первом явлении Господа всем Своим ученикам, собранным вместе, отсутствовал апостол Фома, называемый Близнец, или Дидим (по-гречески). Как видно из Евангелия, характер этого апостола отличался косностью, пере-ходящей в упорство, которое свойственно людям простого, но твердо сложившегося воз-зрения. Еще когда Господь шел в Иудею для воскрешения Лазаря, Фома высказал уве-ренность, что из этого путешествия ничего не получится доброго: “Пойдем и мы умрем с Ним” (Иоан. 11:16). Когда Господь в Своей прощальной беседе сказал ученикам: “Куда Я иду, вы знаете, и путь знаете,” то Фома и тут стал противоречить: “Не знаем, куда идешь; и как можем знать путь?” (Иоан. 14:5).
Крестная смерть Учителя произвела поэтому на Фому особенно тяжкое, удручающее впечатление: он как бы закоснел в убеждении, что утрата Его невозвратна. Упадок духа его был столь велик, что он даже не был с прочими учениками в день воскресения: он, видимо, решил, что уже незачем быть вместе, так как все кончено, все распалось и те-перь каждый из учеников должен по-прежнему вести свою отдельную, самостоятельную жизнь. И вот, встретив других учеников, он вдруг слышит от них: “Видели Господа.” В полном соответствии с своим характером, он резко и решительно отказывается верить их словам. Считая воскресение Своего Учителя невозможным, он заявляет, что поверил бы этому только тогда, если бы не только видел своими глазами, но и осязал своими ру-ками язвы гвоздичные на руках и ногах Господа и прободенное копьем ребро Его. “Вложу руку мою в ребра Его” — из этих слов Фомы видно, что рана, нанесенная Господу воином, была очень глубока.
Спустя восемь дней после первого явления Господа десяти апостолам, Господь снова является, “когда двери были заперты,” по-видимому, в том же доме. На этот раз и Фома был с ними. Может быть, под влиянием обращения с другими учениками, упорное неве-рие начало оставлять его, и душа его мало-помалу становилась вновь способной к вере. Господь и явился для того, чтобы воспламенить в нем эту веру. Став, как и в первый раз, совершенно неожиданно среди Своих учеников и преподав им мир, Господь обратился к Фоме: “Подай перст твой сюда и посмотри руки Мои…” На сомнения Фомы Господь от-вечает Его же собственными словами, которыми он обуславливал свою веру в Его воскре-сение. Понятно, что уже одно это знание Господом его сомнений должно было поразить Фому. Господь к тому же прибавил: “И не будь неверующим, но верующим,” то есть: ты находишься в положении решительном: перед тобой сейчас только две дороги — полной веры и решительного ожесточения духовного. В Евангелии не сказано, осязал ли дей-ствительно Фома язвы Господа — можно думать, что осязал — но так или иначе, вера возгорелась в нем ярким пламенем, и он воскликнул: “Господь мой и Бог мой!” Этими словами Фома исповедал не только веру в Воскресение Христово, но и веру в Его Боже-ство.
Однако, эта вера все же основывалась на чувственном удостоверении, а потому Гос-подь, в назидании Фоме, другим апостолам и всем людям на все будущие времена от-крывает высший путь к вере, ублажая тех, которые достигают веры не таким чувствен-ным путем, каким достиг ее Фома: “Блаженны не видевшие и уверовавшие…” И раньше Господь неоднократно давал преимущество той вере, которая основывается не на чуде, а на слове. Распространение веры Христовой на земле было бы невозможно, если бы каж-дый требовал такого же удостоверения для своей веры, как Фома, или вообще не пере-стающих чудес. Поэтому Господь и ублажает тех, которые достигают веры одним только доверием к свидетельству словом, доверием к учению Христову. Это — лучший путь веры.
Этим повествованием св. Иоанн заканчивает свое Евангелие. Следующая 21-я глава написана им позже, спустя некоторое время, как думают, по поводу слуха о том, что ему определено жить до второго пришествия Христова. Теперь же св. Иоанн заключает свое повествование свидетельством о том, что “много сотворил Иисус пред учениками Свои-ми и других чудес, о которых не написано в книге сей” — хотя св. Иоанн и поставил себе целью дополнить повествование первых трех Евангелистов, но и он записал далеко не все. Он, однако, считает, как видно, что и написанного вполне достаточно, “дабы вы уве-ровали, что Иисус есть Христос, Сын Божий, и, веруя, имели жизнь во имя Его” — и того немногого, что записано, довольно для утверждения веры в Божество Христово и для спасения через эту веру.
“Не горело ли сердце наше, когда Он говорил нам,” — говорили друг другу Лука и Клеопа, переживавшие радость встречи с Воскресшим Христом на пути в Эммаус. Лику-ющие, они поспешили вернуться в Иерусалим, чтобы поделиться пережитой радостью с остальными учениками. Но те уже и сами свидетельствовали о необыкновенном Собы-тии, ибо Воскресший явился Симону-Петру. Во время радостных восклицаний и братских объятий Апостолов, раздался тихий и такой близкий и знакомый голос: “Мир вам!” Апо-столы увидели Иисуса. Он “показал им руки и ноги и ребра Свои.”
В эти светлые дни, полные трепетных и радостных переживаний, когда Апостолы убедились в том, что Он воистину воскрес, Спаситель настойчиво подчеркивает им, что пред ними не призрак, не дух, что воскресло Его тело, взойдя на высшую ступень духов-ной телесности, не знающей препятствий и ограничений, свойственных грубой материи. Это не возвращение к прежней жизни, это новая жизнь, полное преображение тела.
Жив Господь, в этом убеждались ученики. Но вот, из одиннадцати только Фома остался как бы в стороне. Он пробирается по спящим улицам Иерусалима к дому, в кото-ром собрались ученики. Идет он осторожно, опасливо оглядываясь. Двери дома крепко заперты. Условный стук и Фома среди друзей. Его окружили взволнованные лица, многие плачут от радости, восторженно говорят ему собратья о том, что они видели Воскресшего Учителя. Горечью обиды сжимается сердце Фомы, и он восклицает: “Если не увижу (сам)… и не вложу руки моей в ребра Его, не поверю.” В этом “если не увижу — не пове-рю” было выражено, как замечает Церковь Святая, “доброе Фомино неверие,” то есть желание скорее самому увидеть Воскресшего Учителя.
И вот, на восьмой день снова появился Иисус среди учеников, снова раздался ти-хий голос: “Мир вам” и к Фоме обращенный ласковый укор: “Подай перст твой сюда и посмотри руки Мои, подай руку твою и вложи в ребра Мои, и не будь неверующим, но верующим.” — “Господь мой и Бог мой,” — трепеща от радости воскликнул Фома.
Обратите, дорогие, внимание на то, что Воскресший Христос не явился ни Анне, ни Каиафе, ни кому-либо из Своих мучителей. Почему? Да потому, что их злая воля про-тивилась очевидности, противилась обладанию Светом. К ним всецело относились слова Авраама: “если кто и из мертвых воскреснет — не поверят.” Но явился Он “доброму неверию” Фомы, явился и Своему гонителю Савлу, призвав его к благовестию, ибо душа Савла тосковала о Боге, искала Истину; ему мешало заблуждение, а не собственная воля. Савл не только не осязал ран Воскресшего, но и не видел Его облика. Через три года по-сле крестных Страданий с Небесной Высоты прозвучавший призыв Воскресшего преобра-зил душу его и гонитель Савл стал Апостолом Павлом.
Почти двадцать столетий прошло от дней явления Апостолам Христа Воскресше-го, но и сейчас мы с трепетом глубокой радости встречаем светлый день Христова Вос-кресения, вместе с Апостолом Фомой восклицая: “Господь мой и Бог мой!”
“Истина Христова Воскресения есть Истина всецелая, полная, не только Истина веры, но также и Истина разума, торжество Правды и Добра.” За эту Истину были распя-ты Апостолы Петр и Андрей, обезглавлены Апостолы Иаков и Павел, казнены Апостолы Филипп и Нафанаил. За Воскресшего всегда была гонима Церковь Его, шли и идут, идут на страдания тысячи и тысячи мучеников. Идут с вечным гимном победным на устах:
“Воистину Христос Воскресе!” Аминь.