Holy Bible

The Live Prayer and the Divine Fellowship The essential topic in the former chapter is ‘the faith’ which is the way to obtain the divine fellowship of God, through our being blessed with the inward kingdom in the heart as a down ‘payment for God’s kingdom in eternity. This faith is put into action through the constant prayer life, or the sincere worship blended by the Spirit of lowliness. And ascetism in addition to the acceptance of pain. Thus our inward eyes are opened on the kingdom. This is the subject of this chapter! 1- The Fervent Prayer (the widow and the unjust judge) 1- 8 2- The Lowly Worship (the Pharisee and the tax collector) 9- 14 3- The Return to the Children’s Simplicity 15- 17 4- The Release from the money worship 18- 30 5- Accepting the Cross 31- 34 6- The Enlightment (opening the eyes of the Blind) 35- 43 + + + 1- The Fervent Prayer (the widow and the unjust judge): The Lord has previously declared that the ‘Cross’ is the way to the kingdom, for the Son of Man has to suffer and be rejected so He rules in us. Likewise, in the same manner His church has to suffer, and carry His cross in expectation of His last coming. Some may ask, ‘How can we bear the cross and accept the agony happily for the sake of the kingdom? The answer is as follows ‘Prayer at all times!’ (Luke18: 1) “Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart”. + When the Lord has spoken of the tribulations and hazards that will befall us, He added the remedy on the spot, that is, the zealous and constant prayer. Father Theophlactius + If you have not yet obtained the gift of prayer or praise giving, be persistent and you will obtain it. Do not lose heart or despair in waiting, and do not give up if you do not obtain it, for you will surely receive the gift later. St. Ogris + He did not command us to pray in elaborate words, let us come to Him just by saying it. For we do not come to let Him merely know, but rather to struggle with Him, and cling to Him by our constant request and modesty, remembering our sin perpetually. St. John Chrysostom + He who has redeemed you, shows you what He wants you to do. He wants you to be in constant prayer. He wishes you to meditate in your heart on the blessings you are asking for. He wishes you ask of Him, and so obtain His goodness that He longs to give to you. He will not hold from you His blessings if you pray. But in His mercy He urges humans not to despair in praying. Accept the Lord’s encouragement to you joyfully. Try to fulfill what He commands you to do, and to cease doing what He forbids you to do. Finally, meditate on what you are granted as an awesome privilege that you are talking to God in your prayer. Show Him your needs, and He will answer you not with words, but with His mercy, for He does not take your questions lightly, and He does not get bored unless you yourself stop your prayer. St. John Chrysostom + Let not prayer be a mere job for a certain time, but it is rather a constant state for the spirit. St. John Chrysostom says “Make sure you do not confine your prayer to a certain time of the day. Go to pray at any time as the apostle says on another occasion (1Thes.5: 17) “Pray without ceasing”. The apostle tells us to pray (Eph.6: 18) “in the Spirit”. This means prayer should not be only outspoken audibly, but also inwardly; it is the mind’s work in the heart. In this way the essence of prayer is the uplifting of the mind and the heart towards God. + St. Paul wrote to the people of Thesolonica (1Thes.5: 17) “Pray without ceasing”. In other epistles he commands (Eph.6: 18) “Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication”. (Col.4: 2) “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving”. (Rom.12: 12) “Persevere in prayer”. Furthermore, the Savior teaches us the need for constant prayer in persistence through. The parable of the woman who in fervence overcame the unjust judge by her persistent questioning. From all of this it is clear that constant prayer is not an occasional matter, but rather an essential quality for the Christian Spirit. The Christian’s life, according to the apostle, is hidden in God by Christ (Col.3: 3). The Christian, therefore, has to live in God perpetually, with all of his thoughts and feelings. When he does this, he is only praying incessantly! We have also learnt that every Christian is ‘the temple of God’ in which ‘God’s spirit dwells’ (1Cor.3: 16; 4: 19; Rom8: 9). This Spirit dwells constantly in him, and intercedes for him, praying inside him (Rom.8: 26) “But that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words”. in this way, He teaches him how to pray without ceasing. + I remember St. Basilious the great answered the question ‘How did the apostles manage to pray without ceasing? Saying that in all what they did, they thought of God, living in constant devotion to God. This spiritual state was their constant, non-stop prayer. Father Theovan, the hermit The Lord Jesus spoke of the parable of the widow and the unjust judge to motivate us to constant prayer (Luke18: 2- 8) He said “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent? For a while he refused, but later he said to himself ‘though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming’. And the Lord said ‘Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to His chosen ones who cry to Him day and night? Will He delay long in helping them? I tell you, He will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” In this way the Lord Jesus urges us to pray continually, and not to despair; the prayer that springs from the faith in God, the One who answers our prayer. Thus He declares that at the end of times, when many deny the faith, and when love cools, prayer also ceases. As a result of this, man loses his touch and his fellowship with God. This is what He meant by the words, ‘Will He find faith on earth?”, the Lord proclaims His grief for the deprived humanity when losing the divine fellowship. + The Holy Gospel urges us to be committed to prayer and the faith, and not to rely on ourselves, but rather on the Lord. Is there any more encouragement for prayer than the parable of the dishonest judge that was given to us by the Lord? Even though the dishonest judge had no fear of God, and had no respect for any man, yet he listened to the persistent woman, and was overcome by her insistence, and not out of his gentle heart. If her request has been heard by him who hates to be questioned by anyone, then how much more so will it be with Him who listens to us and urges us to ask of Him? In a contrasting comparison, because the Lord teaches us to pray at all times and not to be negligent about it, He adds saying if the Son of Man when He comes, will He find such faith on earth? If faith fails, prayer is obsolete, because who is he who prays for someone he does not believe in? This is why when the devout Apostle urges us to pray (Rom.10: 13) “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved”, and to show that the faith is the prayer source, he went on to say (Rom.10: 14) “And how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed?”. To pray, we have to believe; and not to make this faith by which we pray get weakened, let us pray. Faith overflows in prayer, and the prayer overflow grants the essence of the faith strength. Therefore, for our faith not to become weakened during tribulation, the Lord said (Luke22: 46) “Get up and pray that you may not come into the time of trial”. What do the words mean ‘that you may not come into the time of trail’? They mean when you depart from the faith, and it ends by the growth of the faith. Dear brothers, to know more clearly the Lord’s words’ Get up and pray that you may not come into the time of trial’, He means that the faith is not weakened and perishes; He says in the same place in the gospel (Luke22: 31, 32) “Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail”. He who protects our faith prays, therefore will not he who is subjected to hazards pray? In the Lord’s words (Luke18: 8) “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” The Lord speaks here of the perfect and absolute faith, for it will be a rarity on earth. St. Augustine + The source of every blessing is Christ, (1Cor. 1: 30) “Who became for us wisdom from God”. In Him we have become wise, and have become filled with the spiritual gifts. The knowledge of these things in which we develop in every way in the sublime and sanctified life, and the growth in righteousness, this is only a gift from God that man is equipped to win and to grasp. We may find someone who asks God (Ps.25: 4) “Make me to know your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths”. There are many paths that lead us forward towards the incorrupted life. But there is only one particular way, useful to all who walk in it which is that of prayer. The Savior Himself was careful to teach it to us, by presenting to us this saure parable in our hands, so we struggle in prayer, for it is said (Luke18: 1) “Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart”. I assure you, it is the duty of those who consecrate their life to the service, that they do not neglect their prayers, and that they do not count it a heavy burden, a tiresome one. Rather, they have to rejoice for the freedom granted them by God, for He wishes them to speak to Him, as children do with their Father. Is this not considered a favor worthy of every appreciation? If an honorable person of authority in the world allows us to speak to him freely, do we not count this a worthy cause of great joy? Then why is it that we doubt if God allows each one of us to address his words to Him in whatever way he wants? By this, God has offered to those who fear Him such a great honor as this, so they could obtain it. Let us delete any slothfulness, which makes people be harmfully silent about their prayer. Let us rather draw closer to Him in praise and joy, since we have obtained a commandment to speak with the Lord of everyone and the God of all. We have Christ our Intercessor who grants us with the Father the achievement of our requests. St. Paul the devout says (2Cor.1: 2) “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”. Even Christ Himself says to His saintly apostles (John16: 24) “Until now you have not asked for anything in My name. Ask and you will receive”. He is our Intercessor, He has redeemed us, He is our Comforter and He grants us all our requests. It is our duty to pray without ceasing as the words of the devout St. Paul say (1Thes.5: 7). As it is well known to us, and well assured to us that He to whom we offer our requests, He is able to fulfill for us everything indeed. It has been said (James1: 6,7) “But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord”. He who doubts therefore, indeed commits a scornful thing. If you do not believe He is drawing closer to you, and rejoices you, and fulfils your want, then do not come close to Him in the first place, lest you be accused of scorning the able One, for you are doubtful and stupid. Therefore, let us avoid this debased disease of being doubtful. God listens to those who offer their prayers not in negligence or carelessness, but in seriousness and constance. This is what the parable we have assures us of. The unjustly treated woman has overruled the dishonest judge, who does not fear God, not does he have respect for any man. he has finally given her her request, even if he did so unwillingly. How much more so would it be with Him who loves mercy and hates injustice? It is He who offers His hand continuously to His loved ones. He accepts those who draw closer to Him day and night, and He avenges them for they are His elect. + But some may say “Here in Christ telling His saintly apostles ‘have your enemies, pray for those who harm you’ then how is it that we cry out against them, and ask for revenge without scorning the divine commandment of God?”. When we are personally wronged by people, let us regard this as glory for us that we forgive them, and thus be filled with sharing love. Let us follow the example of our saintly fathers, even if we are stricken and mocked at, indeed, even if they exercise every violence against us. It befits us we are freed of every defect, and be exalted above all wrath and envy. Such glory is appropriate to the saints, and makes God rejoice. But if a sin is directed against the glory of God such as the heresies and resisting the preaching word in truth, then let us draw closer to God and ask Him for His help, and cry out against those who resist His glory, as did the great Moses, for he said (Numbers10: 35) “Arise, O Lord, let Your enemies be scattered, and Your foes flee before you”. Likewise is the prayer uttered by the saintly apostles “Look to their threatening”, which means, wipe out their resistance, and grant Your servants the freedom to speak out Your Word. St. Cyril the great + We also find the martyrs in St. John’s Revelation (Rev.6: 10), who ask for vengeance even though we were asked quite clearly to pray for our enemies and our persecuters. We have to understand that the wicked one perishes in two ways: either by being converted to righteousness, and thus his malice dies, or by being punished if he misses the opportunity for repentance. Even if all humans are converted to God, Satan will remain condemned to the end. Therefore, the righteous ask for the life to come, and it is not false that they ask for vengeance. St. Augustine In other words, if this widow represents the church as well as every church member, then she does not ask vengeance on people in a spiteful and revengeful spirit, she merely asks for the destruction of malice from the life of the evil ones, by their acceptance of the faith; she could also be asking for the end of the days when God’s children obtain the inheritance, and the adversary and his hosts will be cast away in eternal perdition. 2- The Modest Worship (the Pharisee and the tax-collector) Because the Word of God, due to His love for us, has come down to us in the Spirit of lowliness so He carries us in him as members of His holy body, then it is appropriate for us, so as to be firm in this gift, and in truth be counted as lovers and friends to carry this spirit of lowliness in us. This is why He presented to us this parable of the Pharisee and the taxcollector. As St. John Chrysostom said in his fifth sermon against Anomoeans, that the Pharisee rode a vehicle pulled by righteousness with pride, whereas the tax collector’s vehicle was pulled by sin with modesty. The former was destroyed and fell, whereas the latter became exalted above after the tax-collector’s sins were forgiven because of his modesty. + When I finally referred to the Pharisee and the tax-collector, I assumed they had two vehicles which are righteousness and malice; I actually referred to the reality of both of them, and how important the modesty of the spirit is, and how corruptive pride can be. Pride, when accompanied by righteousness, fasting and tithe offering, its vehicle deteriorates. But as for the modesty of the Spirit when accompanied by sin, yet it is ahead of the Pharisee’s horse, even if the driver is poor in the righteous deeds! Because he who was more evil than the tax-collector, yet due to his modest spirit, and when he called himself a sinner, and indeed he was, he was exalted more than the Pharisee who spoke of his fastings and paying his tithes. The evil was wiped out from the tax- collector, for the mother of all evils has been taken away form him, which is the false glory and pride. On this basis St. Paul the apostle teaches us saying (Gal.6: 4) “All must test their own work, rather than their neighbor’s work, then that work will become a cause for pride”. As for the Pharisee, he approached accusing openly the entire world, thinking himself to be better off than all other humans. This is unacceptable even if he prefers himself to only ten, or five, or two, or even one person. But he did not stop in prefering himself to the entire world, he rather accused the entire world as well. In this way he was the last of the whole procession. Just as the ship that goes fast due to the endless rough waves and tempests is finally wrecked on the rocks inside the harbor and loses all of its freight of treasures, likewise did the Pharisee when he offered his fasting and his overflow of irrtues, yet he did not control his tongue. As a result, his soul was wrecked inside the harbor, and he returned to his home after prayer that is, inside the harbor; but he was totally wrecked. Instead of achieving any beneficial thing, he was entirely devastated. Dear brethren, when we know all of this, let us look upon ourselves as last of all, even if we have reached the peak of every righteousness. We know well that pride is capable of making even the heavenly ones fall unless they be careful, whereas the modesty of the thoughts exalts from the abyss of sin those who know how to be sublime. This is what made the tax-collector go ahead of the Pharisee. Pride, which is the soul’s arrogance, is stronger than even the incorporeal hosts, that is, Satan; whereas the soul’s modesty, and man’s knowledge of his own sins that he has committed, these made the thief go ahead of the apostles to paradise. I do not say this so we neglect righteousness, but rather to avoid pride. This is not to make us commit sin, but rather to be exalted in our thoughts, for the modesty of the spirit is the source of wisdom that pertains to us personally. St. John Chrysostom + When the Pharisee prayed and thanked God for his righteousness, he did not lie, but he said the truth, and he was not condemned because of this. But when he looked upon the tax collector and said ‘I am not like this tax collector’ he committed the sinful accusation. St. Dorotheus + Even though the Pharisee fasted two days a week, yet he benefited nothing, because he prided himself of this over the tax-collector. St. Athanasios the apostolic + The tax collector’s prayers overcame God who is never overcome. + Ariogance is contrary to modesty; through it Satan lost his sublimity as an archangel. Think well, brother, what is this sin that God resists? St. Jerome + In all of his words the Pharisee asked nothing of God, and so he obtained nothing. He went up to pray but he did not think of praying to God, but rather of glorifying himself. Even more so, he thought lightly of him who was praying. + The tax collector stood afar, but actually he was very close to God. By his conscientious senses he was far, but by his piety he drew near. + He dared not look up, because his conscience pressured him to look down; but his hope has exalted him up. + The Pharisee became blameworthy for being arrogant, and not for thanking God. St. Augustine + Let your sinful heart be shown in your confession, and so you belong to Christ’s fold; for the confession of sin calls for the physician’s healing; have not the Pharisee and the tax collector gone up to the temple? One thought his situation was good, whereas the other showed his wounds to the Physician. Surely the Pharisee was not wholesome, but he claimed this, and so he left unhealed. As for the other, he looked down below, and dared not look up to the heavens. He beat his chest saying, “Have mercy on me, for I am a sinner”. So what did the Lord say (Luke18: 13, 14) “I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted”. As you can see, he who asks for boasting does not go in, but he rather falls. As for he who humbles himself, he goes in though the door by means of the Shepherd and does not fall. St. Augustine + The Pharisee uttered what is true. He said it not in the presence of anyone’s hearing, yet he was condemned. What punishment is there for which the gossiping women fall in when speaking falsely everywhere, even in matters that they do not believe in? let us set up a door and a lock on the mouth (Sirach.28: 25). Endless wickedness spring up from gossiping. Because of gossip, families are shattered, friendships are broken up, and catastrophies occur. You man, do not be concerned about what pertains to your neighbor, and do not judge him. St. John Chrysostom + One has prayed and so he was judged, because he did not offer his prayer wisely. It is said ‘two men’ went up to the temple to pray. Christ calls those who pray ‘humans’ without regarding their riches or authority. He looks upon all the inhabitants of the earth as human, without any partialities on any side. + The mistakes of the Pharisee are numerous; first, because he was arrogant and insensitive. He praised himself even though the holy Book cries out (Prov.27: 2) “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth- a stranger, and not your own lips”. + Be sensible, you Pharisee, and put a door and a lock to your tongue. You are talking to God who knows everything; Wait for the judge’s verdict. None of the skilful ones in their wrestling puts the crown on himself, and no one accepts the crown of himself, but he rather waits till the verdict is uttered. Bend with your arrogance, for pride is loathsome to God, and is detestful in His eyes. Though you fast, yet in your lofty mind you profit nothing from this abstinence, your toil is not crowned because you blend the dirt with the sweet fragrance. Even according to the Mosaic law, you cannot make an offering to God that has some defect, (Lev.22: 21) “When anyone offers a sacrifice..... from the herd or from the flock, to be acceptable it must be perfect”. Therefore, every fasting accompanied by pride, you have to expect, to hear about it from God “This is not the fasting I choose, (Is58: 6). You do pay the tithe, but when you judge people in general, you wrong the one you have honored. Such behavior is foreign to someone who pass God, for Christ has said, (Luke6: 37) “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned”. Also one of His disciples says (James4: 12) “There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save and to destroy. So who, then, are you to judge your neighbor?” No one in good health scorns a sick person laying on his bed; he rather fears lest he himself falls under the same pain. + But what about the tax-collector? He says he was standing afar; he dared not speak or lift up his eyes above. You can see him void of any daring word, as if he had no right to do so. But he was stricken with his conscience blaming him. He feared even to be seen by God, for being a man who has neglected His covenants, and for his leading a loose life, an impure one. You can see him at this point accusing himself in a clear way. He was afraid of the Judge, and beat his chest in confession of his sins. He was unfolding his sickness as to a physician, asking for mercy. What was the result? Listen to what the Judge said (Luke18: 13) “this man went down to his home justified rather than the other”. St. Cyril the great + The Pharisee prayed within and to himself, and not with God, because the sin of arrogance brought him back to himself. St. Baselious the great + He did not only scorn all the human race but he also attacked the tax- collector. His sin might have been less if he had not attacked the tax- collector. But with a word he attacked those who were absent, and hurt him who was present. St. John Chrysostom St. Basilious the great, moreover, wished in his comment about the Pharisee’s behavior to show the clear difference between the arrogant thinking that is full of pride, and that of the sublime and noble thinking that soars above every whim, that is not destroyed by any despair, and which is not preoccupied by what is temporal. In other words, modesty does not mean the debased thinking, but rather its sublimity and loftiness in being united with the humble Lord Jesus. Thus we can carry with St. Paul the apostle the thoughts of Christ. Finally, this parable implied a general symbolic picture: the Pharisee represents in general, the Jewish people who regarded themselves as righteous by the law than all other people. But as for the tax- collector, he refers to the Gentiles who were eager for the salvation, despite their lack of knowledge, and their being deprived of all that has gone before, which the Jews were blessed with, such as the covenants, the promises, the law and the prophecies. 3- The Return to the Simplicity of Children: When the Lord offered us the parable of humility as the right way by which our prayers are answered, and thus be blessed not with material request, but with what is far greater, the fellowship with our humble heavenly Groom, now the Lord offers us a practical lesson to reveal His humility and His simplicity. He shows clearly how He is open- armed to the little children, that is, to the simple souls that love humility; for the evangelist says (Luke18: 15- 17) “People were bringing to Him even infants that He might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they sternly ordered them not to do it. But Jesus called for them and said, ‘Let the little children come to Me, and do not stop them; for’ it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it!” The Lord Jesus has come to the entire humanity, to the Jew as much as to the Gentile, to men to women, to the elders and to children and youths...etc. he came to everyone to establish fellowship with them. The church fathers have tasted of the sweetness of Christ’s fellowship. They have truly felt it is not appropriate that anyone be prevented, even if a little child, of meeting Him so as to be blessed with their Savior. Even if he did not commit any actual sin, yet it is to have his nature blessed, the nature that he has received as being corrupted. This nature is renewed by the Lord Jesus in the baptism water, and accepts the Lord as a Friend to him. + Let the little ones come, let the sick come to the Physician, let those who are lost come to their Savior, let them come, and no one forbids them from coming. If the branches, that is the children, have not yet committed any sin, yet they perish due to their origin (Ps.115: 13) “He will bless those who fear the Lord, both small and great”. Let the Physician touch the little ones together with the big ones. If the loss is so common, then let the salvation be general. All of us have become lost, and have all been found in Christ. I wish He isolates no one from his salvation. St. Augustine (Revise the words of the saints: St. Cyril the great, St. Ambrosios, St. John Chrysostom and others in their interpretation of the gospel according to St. Mark (chapter10: 13-16).) 4- Being Released form the Bondage of Money: This chapter focuses on prayer as the major way to be blessed with the divine fellowship. We have seen how prayer blends with the faith that motivates us to it, so we pray incessantly and with no boredom. In addition to this, prayer is not a mere life of worship; we rather blend with the believer’s characteristic that urges us to be as simple as children in the wisdom of the Spirit. Now, He warns us of a dangerous adversary who makes us lose the Spirit of prayer, which is that of money- worshiping. One young man has encountered the Lord Jesus, and he wished to follow Him, saying (Mark10: 17-25) “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” His love to riches stood an obstacle in his following the Lord Jesus. We have previously sp9oken elaborately of this encounter and the conversation that was said between the Lord Jesus and this young man, when studying the gospel according to St. Mark. I have also mentioned some words said by the fathers regarding this point. I wish you to refer to it. I think it enough at this point to speak of other excerpts to some fathers so as to add to the previous one. + I do not hesitate to call this ruler a covetous one, and I rebuke his attitude with the Lord Jesus, but I do not say he is like the Pharisees who were testing the Lord. St. John Chrysostom He did not tell us to sell what we have since these are naturally evil things, otherwise God would not have made them. He did not command us to throw them away as bad things, but rather to distribute them and give them away. No one is condemned because he possesses something, but because he ruins what he possesses. According to God’s commandment, let us put these things aside for the forgiveness of our sins and so as to be blessed with the kingdom. St. Basilious the great + Even if you are rich, the Physician is able to heal you. He will not take away the wealth, but He will take away the bondage to wealth, and the greed and love of covetousness. St. John Chrysostom + God is able to satisfy the poor without our own mercy and kindness to them. But He asks the donors to be tied in love to those who accept their donations. St. John Chrysostom + God is good; He alone is perfect in goodness. Since you are in His image, it is appropriate for you to be good. He is generous with everyone; therefore you have to be generous as well. Avoid greed, and do not be miserly with your neighbor in any materialistic vain thing, for this is the worst catastrophe and ignorance. Father John of Kronsdat + A Man of God is the one who has died of his essential needs due to his many kind deeds. He who has mercy on a poor one is caught in God’s care. He who impoverishes himself for God’s sake, will find endless treasures. St. Isaac the Syrian It is amazing that when man gets rid of the love of the world, and when he is released of the bondage chains of the love of riches, and the money-greed, the Lord grants him much much more blessing, even those that are temporal ones, in addition to the eternal glory. This is what our real Friend assured us of when He answered St. Peter, who has said (Luke18: 28) “Look, we have left our homes and followed You”. And he said to them Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not get back very much more in this age, and in the age to come eternal life”. We have previously mentioned the sayings of some fathers and their remarks on these words of the Lord Jesus, in the interpretation of St. Matthew 19: 26, 27; St. Mark10: 28- 30; I wish you to refer to them. 5- Accepting the Cross: It is appropriate for the Christian to be released from the bondage of the love of money, and from the chains of asking for temporal wealth, so the Christian’s soul be exalted by means of the Holy Spirit, in the release towards the heavens, so as to live with her Groom eternally, carrying His own qualities. Therefore it is quite impossible to be blessed with the crucified Christ in His glory, without sharing Him the cross. This is why the Lord Jesus directed the attention of His disciples towards His cross, His pain, and His death as a true way to glory. St. Luke the evangelist says (Luke18: 31-34) “Then He took the twelve aside and said to them. ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For He will be handed over to the Gentiles; and He will be mocked and insulted and spat upon. After they have flogged Him, they will kill Him, and on the third day He will rise again’. But they understood nothing about all these things; in fact, what he said was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said”. We have previously commented on, through the father’s sayings, on these holy words in the interpretation of St. Matthew20: 17, St. Mark10: 32-34; St. Mark8: 31-33. However, the Lord has previously declared to His disciples about His sufferings so He prepares them for accepting them as a major quality in the life of their heavenly Friend. He constantly declares openly our commitment to accepting His sufferings so we embody His quality in us. Thus we will be equipped to enter the honorable circle of the Cross, and be partners with the Crucified. + The Savior has seen ahead of time the hearts of His disciples become disturbed about His sufferings; He therefore informed them of what He would endure as suffering and of the glory of His resurrection. Pope Gregory the great + The Lord spoke privately with His disciples about His passion, for it was not appropriate for Him to declare this to the multitudes lest they be disturbed. But He told the disciples of this ahead of time so they be able to endure it when the time comes. Isaiah had prior to this declared of it saying (Is.50: 6) “I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide My face from insult and spitting”. He also proclaimed the cross (Is53: 13) “He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors”. But David prophesied about Christ’s resurrection (Ps.16: 10) “For You do not give me up to Sheol, or let Your faithful one see the Pit”. St. John Chrysostom + God’s way is a daily cross. No one has ascended up to heaven easily. We know where the restful way goes to, and where it ends. But he who dedicates himself to God whole-heatedly, God will never leave him unattended. He will rather make this man be concerned for the sake of truth, and it is then that he realises all these sorrows sent to him were only an evidence of God’s care of him. St. Isaac the Syrian 6- The Enlightment: The opening of the blind man’s eyes. The Lord asked us to persist in incessant prayer so we be constantly in His presence, and be blessed in talking lovingly to Him. The life of prayer is necessarily accompanied by the Spirit of humility, as the tax- collector did, blended with the simplicity of children, and the release from every bondage of the love of money, as well as accepting the cross joyfully. The purpose of this life is to open the inward vision so as to witness the heavenly Friend. It is at this point that we hear the blind man’s prayer, sitting on the roadside begging. It is an effective prayer, though of few words, for (Luke18: 38) “Then he shouted, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’”. With his heart’s cries, so full of faith, he managed to stop the entire procession and find the Lord Jesus ordering them he be brought to Him. When he drew near, the man heard the Lord say (Luke18: 41) “What do you want Me to do for you?” I repeat, with the kindled prayer, the blind man was blessed in getting closer to the Lord, hearing His voice, and obtaining the blessing of vision, and following Him. The evangelist says, (Luke18: 43) “Immediately he regained his sight and followed Him, glorifying God; and all the people when they saw it, praised God”. His vision was opened so he sees the Lord, and his tongue to glorify God, and he was the cause for all the people to praise God. We have previously spoken of the opening of this man’s eyes in our study of the gospels of St. Matthew (20: 29etc) and St. Mark (10: 46etc). I find it enough here to mention some few comments: + The Lord fulfilled this miracle on the way to manifest He does not walk, even in the street, without doing good. He offered Himself an example to His disciples, so we be useful in everything, and nothing false would be in us. Father Theophlactius + Blindness refers to the human race, that was in our first father who did not find the brightness of the heavenly light. Thus darkness prevailed over the human race. ‘Jericho’ means ‘the moon’; it is the moon that diminishes every month, referring to our weakness in accepting death. But our Greator’s approach to Jericho granted the blind man vision. This means that He took the infirmities of our bodies, and so He brought back the vision it had lost. Those who went ahead of Christ when He was coming, represent the physical lusts and much vice that work in our hearts, and that confuse our thoughts, and corrupt our prayers. But the blind man was crying out way louder, because whenever the restless thoughts attack us, we have all the more to pray fervently. Pope Gregory the great

< CH 17 CH 19 >

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