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Commemoration of the Myrrh Bearing Women

Commemoration of the Myrrh Bearing Women


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.

Homily of Saint Gregory Palamas For the Sunday of The Myrrh-bearing Women

(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.

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Thomas Sunday – St. John of Kronstadt

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.

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Неверие Фомы. (Архиепископ Аверкий)

(Иоанна 20:24-31).

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.

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Фомино Воскресенье. (Bishop Mitrophan)

Христос Воскресе!

“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.

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Thomas Sunday

Thomas Sunday


The Reading from the Acts of the Holy Apostles (5:12-20)

In those days: By the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people, and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch. But of the rest, no man dared join himself to them, but the people magnified them. And more believers were added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women, insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them. There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks and those who were vexed with unclean spirits; and they were healed, every one. Then the high priest rose up and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees); and they were filled with indignation, and laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison. But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth and said, ‘Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this Life.’

The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to John (20:19-31)

The same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in their midst and said unto them, ‘Peace be unto you.’ And when He had so said, He showed unto them His hands and His side. Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, ‘Peace be unto you. As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you.’ And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said unto them, ‘Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whosoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosoever sins ye retain, they are retained.’ But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said unto them, ‘Unless I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe.’ And after eight days the disciples were again within, and Thomas was with them. Then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in their midst and said, ‘Peace be unto you.’ Then said He to Thomas, ‘Reach hither thy finger and behold My hands, and reach hither thy hand and thrust it into My side: and be not faithless, but believing.’ And Thomas answered and said unto Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said unto him, ‘Thomas, because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed. Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed.’ And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing, ye might have life through His name.


Troparion for Thomas Sunday (Tone 7)
While the tomb was sealed, Thou, O Life, didst shine forth from the grave, O Christ God. And while the doors were shut, Thou didst come unto Thy disciples, O Resurrection of all, renewing through them an upright Spirit in us according to Thy great mercy.

Kontakion of Thomas Sunday (Tone 8)
With his searching right hand, Thomas did probe Thy life-bearing side, O Christ God; for when Thou didst enter while the doors were shut, he cried out unto Thee with the rest of the disciples: Thou art my Lord and my God!

Synaxarion for Thomas Sunday

On this Sunday, the second Sunday of Pascha, we celebrate the Antipascha, that is to say the re-dedication of the Resurrection of Christ, and also commemorate the event of the Holy Apostle Thomas’ touching the wounds of Christ.

This commemoration is due to the ancient custom of rededicating important events. As a year would pass and the date of such an event would arrive, a commemoration was made so that such great events would not be forgotten. This is why the Israelites celebrated the Passover at Gilgal, to commemorate the passing through the Red Sea. They also commemorated the consecration of the Tabernacle of Witness that was in the wilderness and many other holy events.

Since the Resurrection of the Lord is the greatest and most important event and beyond all thought, it is rededicated not only once a year, but also on every “eighth” day. The first rededication of the Resurrection is this present Sunday, for it is truly both the “eighth” day and the “first.” It is the eighth day after Pascha, and the first day, because it is the beginning of the other days. Again, it is called the “eighth” day because it prefigures the unending day of the future age to come, which will be truly the “first” day and a day that is not divided by a single night. This is why this Sunday is called the Antipascha, which interpreted means “in the place of Pascha.” We should also know that due to the honor given Sunday by the Lord’s Resurrection, the Holy Apostles transferred the weekly day of rest from the Jewish Sabbath (Saturday) to this most honored day.

It is also called Thomas Sunday, the reason being as follows: On the day of the Resurrection, when Christ showed himself to the Disciples in the evening, Thomas was not present, because he had not yet joined the other Disciples for fear of the Jews. When he rejoined the others, not only did he not believe what they told him about the Resurrection of Christ and the fact that they had seen Him, but he absolutely refused to believe that Christ had risen, even though he himself was one of the Twelve. God the good Master, in His true economy, waited eight days to make His love more perfect, firmly willing to truthfully verify the Resurrection and also the events that had occurred after the Resurrection. Thus, Thomas did not believe so that he could more truthfully proclaim to all the belief in the Resurrection. Therefore, the Lord came to the Apostles again while Thomas was among them. Though the doors were shut as before, He entered and granted them peace according to the custom. He then turned toward Thomas and said, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing” (John 20:27). Then Thomas intentionally scrutinized the Lord’s side more attentively, and receiving faith through the examination, he cried, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). He said “Lord” in witnessing to the bodily form of Christ and “God” in witnessing to His Divinity. Then Christ said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). This was the second appearance of Christ.

Thomas was called “The Twin” for one of several possible reasons: either he was born a twin – one of two children born at the same time; or because he was born doubtful of the Resurrection; or because by nature the middle finger and the index finger of his right hand were joined together. Since by Divine Providence he was allowed to doubt, it was with these certain two fingers that he would probe Christ’s side. Yet, others say that it is more likely and more truthful that Thomas, being interpreted, means “twin.”

The third appearance of Christ was at the Sea of Tiberias during the catching of the fish where He even ate a meal of broiled fish and honeycomb; this particular food, as He alone knew, was consumed by the Divine Fire. This event gave further proof of the Resurrection of the body – not only His, but ours in the Age to come. After this, He revealed himself on the road to Emmaus. The fifth time He appeared was in Galilee to the eleven, as it is written. From the Resurrection until His Ascension, He worked before His Disciples many signs that surpassed all nature. However, He did not reveal all these signs to very many, for it was impossible for men yet living in this world to hear such inexpressible wonders.

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Matins of Great Monday – Archpriest Valentin Amfiteatrov (+1908)

Matins of Great Monday – Archpriest Valentin Amfiteatrov (+1908)

Let us go together to meet Christ on the Mount of Olives. Today He returns from Bethany and proceeds of His own free will toward His holy and blessed passion, to consummate the mystery of our salvation. He who came down from heaven to raise us from the depths of sin, to raise us with Himself, we are told in Scripture, above every sovereignty, authority and power, and every other name that can be named, now comes of His own free will to make His journey to Jerusalem. He comes without pomp or ostentation. As the psalmist says: He will not dispute or raise his voice to make it heard in the streets. He will be meek and humble, and He will make His entry in simplicity.

Today, by God’s mercy, the Holy Forty Days have concluded. We have come a long way and we find ourselves at our destination. The Father’s house is already visible, where the joy of the bright day awaits us. Let us hasten to complete what we have begun. Fathers and mothers, encourage your children to finish their good podvig. Sons and daughters, help your fathers and mothers to enter into the joy of the Lord. But now we hear the sorrowful voice of the old and the young: Thy bridal chamber, O my Savior, I see all adorned, but I have no wedding garment so that I may enter it.

Poor strangers! Why is your clothing so old and improper? Have time or negligence made it so? Let your conscience, both human and Christian, answer this question.

But our mother, the Church, reaches out to you with her customary appeal. We hear this hymnody from her: Come, brethren; come all, great and small, enlightened and simple, young and old; come, let us be united in the spirit of faith and love and share the feeling of the suffering God-Man. The luminous bridal chamber is visible, but it is not possible to enter therein with a mind full of impure thoughts.

Unfortunately, many people’s thoughts and entire souls are never more filled with daily concerns than during this coming week. Concern for finishing various affairs before the feast, for the preparation of various items for the feast, distracts the mind on all sides and diverts the senses towards vain objects. For this reason the Divine Services of Passion Week are not attended in full; much of what is read in church — most importantly, the Evangelists’ narratives about the life of Jesus Christ — pass by without proper attention.

Yet Holy and Great Week does not require such a distracted mind from us. We will hear the good tidings of the entire life of our Savior. When is it not more fitting to view the whole of it than before its end? But will someone who is distracted, who does not even know his own life, be able to absorb the meaning of this life? We will be witnesses of the Lord’s final discourse with His disciples at the Mystical Supper; but can our hearts be inflamed with the fire of the love of Jesus if, like Judas, it will be where its treasure is? Therefore, it is not for the Lord’s sake, but for our very own sake, that we must in the present days collect our thoughts as best we can, and purify them; or else we will leave behind the Savior and remain with Judas, in despair; or, in Pilate’s judgment hall, left with washed hands alone; or in Herod’s palace, dressed up in our best clothes alone; but we will not rise with Christ, will not enter His bridal chamber of glory. Thy bridal chamber, O my Savior, I see all adorned, but I have no garment so that I may enter it.

What should we do about our everyday cares, one of you may ask. The feast is great, and the daily cares are great. We know about this situation, and we mourn: Christ is on the Cross, and Christians are from morning till night in stores. Christ, in pain, cries out I thirst, and drinks vinegar; while Christians prepare all manner of food and drink. At the very moment that Christ gives up His spirit, Christians barely take a break from their everyday concerns … How, after all this, can Christians in the end cry out the words: Thy bridal chamber, O my Savior, I see all adorned, but I have no garment so that I may enter it… We do not demand a change in the order of life, but a good Christian can find without difficulty the means of meeting all the demands of the feast without disturbing his mind and feeling, without losing sight of his Savior. The Apostles themselves went shopping. They prepared supper, and the equal-to-the-Apostle women bought aromatic fragrances; but regard how everything they did was decorous and pious. Why can it not be the same with us? Because we are children of the nineteenth century… because our vanity fabricates a great number of petty needs, and tortures itself and others with their satisfaction: petty people and petty feelings. The insatiability of our flesh magnifies beyond measure the needs of these bright days. The bright days are in and of themselves nourishing to the spirit and therefore require little food for the flesh. But we are so sensual that we cannot find love without victuals; we have fallen out of the habit of understanding delight and sweetness of heart without food. A Christian feast day is great and holy not for the great number of food; it is joyful not for the permission of shrill gaiety that takes one’s breath away… No, this is serving the body. Not in the name of the Risen Christ do people overeat and drink to satiety; not in the name of the Risen Christ do they array themselves to the point of temptation. A pure delight of the heart is a holy exaltation of the heart; it is truth, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Such feeling is unknown to the majority of us. If they were to visit us even once, we would not forget them, just as one does not forget the feeling of young, adoring, and pure love, the feeling of deep and unselfish friendship.

But inasmuch as we are poor in these holy feelings, it remains for me with a sad heart to repeat for all and to all the touching words of the prayer: Thy bridal chamber, O my Savior, I see all adorned, but I have no garment so that I may enter it. O Giver of Life, enlighten the vesture of my soul, that I might go into Thy house unrebuked; I shall worship toward Thy holy temple, I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord. Amen.

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Вход Господень во Иерусалим Архиепископ Аверкий

Вход Господень во Иерусалим Архиепископ Аверкий

(Матф. 21:1-11; Мрк. 11:1-11; Лк. 19:28-44; Иоан. 12:12-19).

Об этом великом событии, которое служит преддверием страданий Христовых, понесенных нас ради человек и нашего ради спасения, рассказывают весьма обстоятельно все четыре Евангелиста, св. Иоанн короче первых трех.

Господь Иисус Христос шел теперь в Иерусалим для того, чтобы исполнилось все написанное о Нем, как Мессии, пророками. Он шел для того, чтобы испить чашу искупительных страданий, дать душу Свою в избавление за многих и потом войти в славу Свою. Поэтому в полную противоположность тому, как держал Себя Господь прежде, Ему было благоугодно этот Свой последний вход в Иерусалим обставить особой торжественностью. Первые три Евангелиста передают нам подробности, которыми сопровождалась подготовка этого торжественного входа. Когда Господь с учениками, окруженный множеством народа, сопровождавшего Его от Вифании и встречавшегося по пути, приблизился к горе Елеонской, Он послал двух учеников в селение, находившееся перед ними с поручением привести ослицу и молодого осла. Гора Елеонская, или Масличная, называлась так по множеству росших в ней масличных деревьев (елея — маслина). Она находится к востоку от Иерусалима и отделяется от него ручьем или потоком Кедроном, который почти совершенно высыхал летом. На западном склоне горы, обращенном к Иерусалиму, находился сад, называвшийся Гефсиманией. На восточном же склоне горы лежали два селения, упоминаемые у свв. Марка и Луки Вифсфагия и Вифания (Матфей говорит только о первой). С горы Елеонской был прекрасный вид на все части Иерусалима.

Из Вифании в Иерусалим было два пути: один огибал гору Елеонскую с юга, а другой шел через самый верх горы: последний был короче, но труднее и утомительнее. В Палестине было мало коней, и они употреблялись почти исключительно для войны. Для домашнего обихода и путешествий употреблялись ослы, мулы и верблюды. Сесть на коня было тогда эмблемой войны, сесть на мула или осла — эмблемой мира. В мирное время и цари и вожди народные ездили на этих животных.

Таким образом, вход Господа Иисуса Христа в Иерусалим на осле был символом мира: Царь мира едет в свою столицу на осле — эмблема мира. Замечательно, что хозяева осла и ослицы, по слову Господа, сразу же отдали своих животных, когда Апостолы сказали, для Кого они их берут. Отмечая удивительность этого обстоятельства, св. Златоуст говорит, что Господь хотел этим дать понять, что “Он мог воспрепятствовать жестоковыйным иудеям, когда они пришли схватить Его, и сделать их безгласными, но не захотел сего.” Евангелисты Матфей и Иоанн указывают, что это было исполнением пророчества Захарии, которое они приводят, но в сокращенном виде и которое полностью читается так: “Ликуй от радости, дочь Сиона, торжествуй, дочь Иерусалима: се Царь твой грядет к тебе, праведный и спасающий, кроткий, сидящий на ослице и молодом осле, сыне подъяремной” (осле, который ходит под ярмом; Зах. 9:9). Это пророчество близко пророчеству Исаии, из которого св. Матфей заимствует первые слова: “Скажите дочери Сиона: грядет Спаситель твой; награда Его с Ним и воздаяние Его — перед Ним” (Ис. 62:11).

Разумея величие этих минут, Апостолы сами стараются украсить это шествие торжественностью: они покрывают ослицу и молодого осла своими одеждами, которые как бы должны были заменить собой златотканые ткани, коими украшались царские кони. “И накинув одежды свои на осленка…” Ехал Господь, как ясно видно из повествования св. Марка, Луки и Иоанна, на осленке, а ослица, по-видимому, шла рядом. “Многие же постилали одежды свои по дороге,” следуя примеру учеников, “другие же,” не имея верхних одежд, по бедности, “резали ветви с дерев и постилали по пути,” чтобы сделать путь мягким и удобным для осленка и таким образом послужить и воздать честь Сидящему на нем. Далее, совмещая повествования всех Евангелистов, можно представить себе следующую картину: “Когда Он приблизился к спуску с горы Елеонской” (Лук. 19:37), то есть когда они приблизились к перевалу, откуда начинался спуск и открылся дивный вид на Иерусалим, “Все множество учеников начало в радости велегласно славить Бога” за спасение мира, уготованное во Христе, и в частности за все чудеса — “какие видели они.” К этому добавляет св. Иоанн: “Множество народа, пришедшего на праздник, услышав, что Иисус идет в Иерусалим, взяли пальмовые ветви и вышли навстречу Ему” (Иоан. 12:12-13).

Так соединилось два множества народа: одно шло от Вифании со Христом, другое из Иерусалима, навстречу Ему. Вид Иерусалима, представшего с горы во всей своей красе, вызвал восторг всей народной массы, который вылился в радостных и громогласных криках: “Осанна! благословен грядущий во имя Господне, Царь Израилев!” “Осанна” в буквальном переводе с древнееврейского языка значит: “Спаси же,” даруй спасение. Это восклицание употреблялось как выражение радости и благоговения наподобие нынешнего: “Да здравствует.” “Осанна в вышних” — пожелание чтобы и на небе было принесено в дар Царю Израилеву, Сыну Давидову, то же радостное восклицание “Осанна.” “Благословен грядущий во имя Господне” — значит: достоин благословения или прославления Тот, Кто приходит от Иеговы с Его повелениями, с Его властью, как приходят от земного царя посланники и правители с полномочиями заменять его (срав. Иоан. 5:43). Еванг. Марк присоединяет к этому еще восклицание: “Благословенно грядущее царство во имя Господа, отца нашего Давида.”

Царство Давида должен был восстановить Мессия, Которого престол должен был пребывать вечно и власть должна была распространиться на все народы. В этих словах сыны Израилевы и прославляют Христа, грядущего восстановить это царство Давидово. Св. Лука передает еще одно восклицание: “Мир на небесах,” в смысле: с небес снисходят все истинные духовные блага и вечное спасение.

Св. Иоанн объясняет, как причину этой радостной встречи Господа, великое чудо воскрешения Лазаря, только что Им совершенное, а св. Лука — все вообще чудеса Его. В этом событии наша Церковь усматривает особое Божие устроение и внушение Духа Святого, как говорит об этом Синаксарь на Неделю Ваий: “Сие же быша языки подвигшу, Всесвятому Духу.” С этой точки зрения понятен ответ Господа, данный Им на лукавый и злобный совет фарисеев: “Учитель, запрети ученикам Твоим (ибо Ты, как и мы, понимаешь, насколько все это неприлично и опасно для Тебя).” — “Если они умолкнут, то камни возопиют” (Лук. 19:39-40); т.е. это славословие Христу Мессии устрояется в сердцах и устах народа Самим Богом, и если бы люди воспротивились этому Божиему повелению, тогда бездушные камни заменили бы людей в прославлении Господа. В этих словах Церковь видит также иносказательное указание на язычников, имевших прежде как бы каменные сердца, но потом заменивших собой Израиля, отвергшего Христа. Тот же смысл имеет и приводимый ап. Матфеем ответ Господа фарисеям, негодовавшим по злобе и зависти на то, что дети в храме восклицали: “Осанна Сыну Давидову!” — “Разве вы никогда не читали: Из уст младенцев и грудных детей Ты устроил хвалу”; то есть Бог Сам устроил Себе хвалу в устах младенцев и грудных детей (Пс. 8:3; Матф. 21:15-16).

Смотря на город, как повествует св. Лука (19:41-44), Господь “заплакал о нем,” по причине его скорой погибели. Замечательно, что в 70 году Римляне, начиная осаду Иерусалима, устроили свой лагерь как раз на том месте Елеонской горы, где находился в то время Христос Спаситель, и самая осада началась тоже незадолго до Пасхи. “О, если бы ты хоть в сей день твой день узнал, что служит к миру твоему! Но это сокрыто ныне от глаз твоих.” — Если бы ты, народ иудейских, хотя бы сейчас уразумел, что служит к твоему спасению; но ты упорно закрываешь глаза, чтобы не видеть. Отвергая Меня, ты ускоряещь свою гибель. “… Не уразумел времени посещения твоего,” то есть того благоприятного времени, когда Бог явил тебе особую милость и призывал тебя ко спасению через посланного к тебе Мессию.

Св. Матфей свидетельствует, что “когда Он вошел в Иерусалим, весь город пришел в движение” — столь велико было впечатление от этой торжественной встречи.

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Palm Sunday – Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

Palm Sunday – Entrance of our Lord into Jerusalem

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Today, in the day of Palms we stand in awe and amazement before what is happening in a way in which the Jews of Jerusalem could not meet Christ because they met Him imagining that He was the glorious king who would now take over all power, conquer and reject the heathen, – the Romans who were occupying their country, that He would re-establish a kingdom, an earthly kingdom of Israel. We know that He had not come for that, He had come to establish a Kingdom that will have no end, a Kingdom of eternity, and the Kingdom that was not open only to one nation but was open to all nations, and the Kingdom that was to be founded on the life and on the death of Jesus Christ, the Son of God become the Son of man.

And Holy Week is from one end to another a time of tragic confusion. The Jews meet Christ at the gates of Jerusalem because they expect of Him a triumphant military leader, and He comes to serve, to wash the feet of His disciples, to give His life for the people but not to conquer by force, by power. And the same people who meet Him shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” in a few days will shout, “Crucify Him, crucify Him!” because He has betrayed their expectations. They expected an earthly victory and what they see is a defeated king. They hate Him for the disappointment of all their hopes.

And this is not so alien to us in our days. How many are those people who have turn away in hatred from Christ because He has disappointed one hope or another. I remember a woman who had been a believer for all her life and whose grandson died, a little boy, and she said to me, “I don’t believe in God anymore. How could He take my grandson?” And I said to her, “But you believed in God while thousands and thousands and millions of people died.” And she looked at me and said, “Yes, but what did that do to me? I didn’t care, they were not my children.” This is something that happens to us in a small degree so often that we waver in our faith and in our faithfulness to God when something which we expect Him to do for us is not done, when He is not an obedient servant, when we proclaim our will, He does not say, “Amen,” and does not do it. So we are not so alien from those who met Christ at the gates of Jerusalem and then turned away from Him.

But we are entering now in Holy Week. How can we face the events? I think we must enter into Holy Week not as observers, not reading the passages of the Gospel which are relevant, we must enter into Holy Week as though we were participants of the events, indeed read of them but then mix in the crowd that surrounds Christ and ask ourselves, Who am I in this crowd? Am I one of those who said, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’? And am I now on the fringe of saying, ‘Crucify him’? Am I one of the disciples who were faithful until the moments of ultimate danger came upon them?.. You remember that in the Garden of Gethsemane three disciples had been singled out for Christ to support Him at the hour of His supreme agony, and they did not, they were tired, they were desponded and they fell asleep. Three times He came to them for support, three times they were away from Him.

We do not meet Christ in the same circumstances but we meet so many people who are in agony, not only dying physically, and that also happens to our friends, our relatives, people around us, but are in agony of terror one way or another. Are we there awake, alive, attentive to them, ready to help them out, and if we can’t help, to be with them, to stand by them or do we fall asleep, that is, contract out, turn away, leave them in their agony, their fear, their misery? And again I am not speaking of Judas because no-one of us is aware of betraying Christ in such a way, but don’t we betray Christ when we turn away from all His commandments? When He says, “I give you an example for you to follow,” and we shake our heads and say, “No, I will simply follow the devices of my own heart.” But think of Peter, apparently the strongest, the one who spoke time and again in the name of others. When it came to risking not his life, because no-one was about to kill him, to be rejected simply, he denied Christ three times.

What do we do when we are challenged in the same way, when we are in danger of being mocked and ridiculed and put aside by our friends or our acquaintances who shrug their shoulders and say, “A Christian? And you believe in that? And you believe that Christ was God, and you believe in His Gospel, and you are on His side?” How often? O, we don’t say, “No, we are not,” but do we say, “Yes, it is my glory, and if you want to crucify Him, if you want to reject Him, reject me too because I choose to stand by Him, I am His disciple, even if I am to be rejected, even if you don’t let me into your house anymore.”

And think of the crowd on Calvary. There were people who had been instrumental in His condemnation, they mocked Him, they had won their victory, so they thought at least. And then there were the soldiers, the soldiers who crucified Him. They had crucified innumerable other people, they were doing their job. It didn’t matter to them whom they crucified. And yet Christ prayed for them, “Forgive them, Father, they don’t know what they are doing.” We are not being crucified physically, but do we say, “Forgive, Father, those who offend us, who humiliate us, who reject us, those who kill our joy and darken our life in us.” Do we do that? No, we don’t. So we must recognise ourselves in them also.

And then there was a crowd of people who had poured out of the city to see a man die, the fierce curiosity that pushes so many of us to be curious when suffering, agony comes upon people. You will say, it doesn’t happen? Ask yourself how you watch television and how eagerly, hungrily you look at the horrors that befall Somalia, the Sudan, Bosnia and every other country. Is it with a broken heart? Is it that you can not endure the horror and turn in prayer to God and then give, give, give generously all you can give for hunger and misery to be alleviated? Is it? No, we are the same people who came out on Calvary to see a man die. Curiosity, interest? Yes, alas.

And then there were those who had come with the hope that He will die because if He died on the cross, then they were free from this terrifying, horrible message He had brought that we must love one another to the point of being ready to die for each other. That message of the crucified, sacrificial love could be rejected once and for all if He who preached it died, and it was proved that He was a false prophet, a liar.
And then there were those who had come in the hope that He will come down from the cross, and then they could be believers without any risk, they would have joint the victorious party. Aren’t we like that so often?

And then there is a point to which we hardly should dare turn our eyes – the Mother of the Incarnate Son of God, the Mother of Jesus silent, offering His death for the salvation of mankind, silent and dying with Him hour after hour, and the disciple who knew in a youthful way how to love his master, standing by in horror, seeing his Master die and the Mother in agony. Are we like this when we read the Gospel, are we like this when we see the agony of men around us?

Let us therefore enter in this Holy Week in order not to be observers of what happened then, let us enter into it mixed with the crowd and at every step ask ourselves, who am I in this crowd? Am I the Mother? Am I the disciple? Am I one of the crucifiers? And so forth. And then we will be able to meet the day of the Resurrection together with those to whom it was life and resurrection indeed, when despair had gone, new hope had come, God had conquered. Amen.

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Palm Sunday – St Andrew of Crete

Palm Sunday – Entrance of our Lord into Jerusalem

Let us go together to meet Christ on the Mount of Olives. Today He returns from Bethany and proceeds of His own free will toward His holy and blessed passion, to consummate the mystery of our salvation. He who came down from heaven to raise us from the depths of sin, to raise us with Himself, we are told in Scripture, above every sovereignty, authority and power, and every other name that can be named, now comes of His own free will to make His journey to Jerusalem. He comes without pomp or ostentation. As the psalmist says: He will not dispute or raise his voice to make it heard in the streets. He will be meek and humble, and He will make His entry in simplicity.

Let us run to accompany Him as He hastens toward His passion, and imitate those who met Him then, not by covering His path with garments, olive branches or palms, but by doing all we can to prostrate ourselves before Him by being humble and by trying to live as He would wish. Then we shall be able to receive the Word at His coming, and God, whom no limits can contain, will be within us.

In His humility Christ entered the dark regions of our fallen world and He is glad that He became so humble for our sake, glad that He came and lived among us and shared in our nature in order to raise us up again to Himself. And even though we are told that He has now ascended above the highest heavens – the proof, surely, of His power and godhead – His love for man will never rest until He has raised our earthbound nature from glory to glory, and made it one with His own in heaven.

So let us spread before His feet, not garments or soulless olive branches, which delight the eye for a few hours and then wither, but ourselves, clothed in His grace, or rather, clothed completely in Him.

We who have been baptized into Christ must ourselves be the garments that we spread before Him. Now that the crimson stains of our sins have been washed away in the saving waters of baptism and we have become white as pure wool, let us present the conqueror of death, not with mere branches of palms but with the real rewards of His victory.

Let our souls take the place of the welcoming branches as we join today in the children’s holy song:

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the king of Israel.

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Palm Sunday – Entrance of our Lord into Jerusalem

Palm Sunday – Entrance of our Lord into Jerusalem


Epistle of the Holy Apostle Paul to the Philippians (4:4-9)

Brethren: Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, ‘Rejoice!’ Let your moderation be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Fret not about anything, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things which ye have both learned and received and heard and seen in me, do; and the God of peace shall be with you.

The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to John (12:1-18)

Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany where Lazarus was, who had been dead and whom He had raised from the dead. There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. Then Mary took a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son who was to betray Him, said, ‘Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence and given to the poor?’ This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money bag and took what was put therein. Then Jesus said, ‘Let her alone; against the day of My burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you, but Me ye have not always.’ Many people of the Jews therefore knew that He was there. And they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom He had raised from the dead. But the chief priests consulted, that they might put Lazarus also to death, because by reason of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus. On the next day many people who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went forth to meet Him and cried, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord!’ And Jesus, when He had found a young ass, sat thereon, as it is written: ‘Fear not, daughter of Sion; behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt.’ These things His disciples understood not at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things unto Him. The people therefore who were with Him, when He called Lazarus out of his grave and raised him from the dead, bore record. For this cause the people also met Him, for they heard that He had done this miracle.


Troparion of Palm Sunday (Tone 4)
In confirming the common Resurrection, O Christ God, Thou didst raise up Lazarus from the dead before Thy Passion.Wherefore, we also, like the children bearing the symbols of victory, cry to Thee, the Vanquisher of death: Hosanna in the highest; blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.

Kontakion for Palm Sunday (Tone 6)
Being borne upon a throne in heaven, * and upon a colt on the earth, O Christ God, * Thou didst accept the praise of angels and the laudation of children as they cry to Thee: * Blessed is He that cometh to recall Adam.

Synaxarion for Palm Sunday

After Lazarus had been raised from the dead, many, on beholding this event, came to believe in Christ. And indeed, a resolution was passed by the Jewish synagogue that Christ, and Lazarus himself, should be killed. Jesus, therefore, departed, letting evil run its course, and the Jews meditated how they might kill Him on the Feast of Passover. Some time after His flight, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, and there, after a supper had been made, Lazarus ate with Him; his sister Mary poured out ointment on Christ’s feet. On the following day, He sent His Disciples to fetch the ass and the foal. He Who has Heaven for His throne entered Jerusalem, riding on the foal of an ass. The children of the Hebrews themselves spread their garments under Him and, cutting down palm branches, threw some of them in the way and carried others in their arms, and they cried out as they escorted Him: “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel.”

This took place because the All-Holy Spirit moved their tongues to praise and laud Christ. Through the palms (the name given by the Hebrews to the tender branches) they signified Christ’s victory over death. For it was customary for the victors of athletic contests and wars to be honored and borne about with branches of evergreen trees. The foal signified us, the people of the Gentiles, sitting and resting on whom Christ is proclaimed victor, conqueror, and King of all the earth.

About this Feast the Prophet Zacharias said: “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Sion; for behold, thy King is coming to thee, meek and riding on an ass and the foal of an ass.” And again, about the children, David says: “Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast Thou perfected praise.” When Christ entered the city, the whole of Jerusalem quaked and, goaded on by the High Priests to defend it, the crowds sought to do away with Him. He eluded them by hiding, and when He did appear, He spoke to them through parables.

By Thine ineffable compassion, O Christ our God, make us victors over irrational passions, and vouchsafe us to behold Thy clear victory over death, Thy radiant and life-bearing Resurrection, and have mercy on us. Amen.