Behind Every Test Lurks the Blessing of God

Repose of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian

Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,

PSALM 83[84]

How lovely is Your tabernacle, O Lord of hosts! My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the Living God. Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young--Even Your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed are those who dwell in Your house; they will still be praising You. Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is as on pilgrimage. As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a spring; the rain also covers it with pools. They go from strength to strength; Each one appears before God in Zion. O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; Give ear O God of Jacob! O God, behold our shield, and look upon the face of Your anointed. For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness. For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk upright. O Lord of hosts, Blessed is the man who trusts in You!



On September 26th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers, and every righteous spirit made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: The Falling Asleep of Saint John the Evangelist and Theologian; Venerable Gideon, judge of Israel; Holy Martyr Heras; Five virgin Martyrs and Monastrion; Saint Ephraim, wonderworker of Novgorod; Saint Nilus of Rossano.

+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Evangelists, and Holy Martyrs, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

REPOSE OF THE HOLY APOSTLE AND EVANGELIST JOHN THE THEOLOGIAN. When Saint John was over one hundred years old (the exact age is uncertain), he asked that his disciples dig a grave for him in the shape of a Cross, which they did. He got into it alive. They covered him to his knees and he kissed them, then they covered him to his neck and put a cloth over his face. He was then covered altogether. When others came and dug the grave, they found nothing. Miraculously, each year on this date, a dust came from the grave that healed the sick by the Saint's prayers.

In our Greek Orthodox Tradition Saint John's Falling asleep is called Metastasis or Translation of his holy body to Heaven.


HOLY EPISTLE LESSON (1 John 4:12-19)

"No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the Day of Judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us".

HOLY GOSPEL LESSON (St. John 19:25-27, 21:24-25)

"Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother's sister Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, 'Woman, behold your son!' Then he said to the disciple, 'Behold your mother!' And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home. This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true. And then are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.



"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it, but he who does the will of God abides forever" (1 John 2:15-17).


"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world" (1 John 4:1-3).


by Geronda (Elder) Ephraim , Egoumenos (Abbot) of the Holy Monastery of Philotheou, Mt. Athos.

Almost all attribute their conversion to some ordeal.

Sorrow is not nice. However, behind it, behind the pain, behind the sorrow, behind the test, lurks the blessing of God, the rebirth, the reforming of man, of family. Almost everyone attributes his/her conversion to some test. They believe everything goes well, that God takes their child, and then there is mourning, pain etc. Then comes the grace of God which overshadows them, making these people calm. They approach the Church, approach the confession, approach the priest. Thanks to that child they go to the Church. Their pain makes them to seek, to pray for repose, to request liturgies. Pain relieves the heart and makes it receptive to the word of God, while earlier it was hard and unreceptive. For example, a man during his youthful exuberance thinks, "I am and no one else is". There go the degrees, the glories, the health, the beauty and everything else. However, when he is laid in bed sick, he thinks differently. Vanity of vanity, everything is vanity. I may die, he thinks. What is the benefit of all these and he starts to think differently. It is like a man approaching him and tells him, "read this book and check what it says". He hears a word of God and then he listens to it. And if you give him a book, his pain has already made his heart suitable and he opens the book and the Bible and reads it and thus starts the repose of man. And when he is healed, immediately then he stands up and lives carefully his life and does not live like before with pride and with the fantasy he had.

Sickness and sorrow is by and large medicine of the providence of God to bring man closer to Him and increase his virtue.

The sickness and sorrow is by and large medicine of the Providence of God to bring man closer to Him and increase his virtue. Job was the best man on earth but God wanted to make him even better. Before he was tested, Job was not famous. As soon as he was tested and fought, struggled, crowned and became rich, after that began his glory to this day. His example is the most brilliant one and empowers every man that is being tested. If he was tested being a Saint, so much more us who are sinners. The result was he was made holy and was given again years of life and blessed him doubly and thrice with what he had, thus becoming a bright example throughout the centuries and for him to relax and say: "As the Lord wished so it happened. May the Name of the Lord be blessed". He lowers his head and says: "God gave and God took" And even if He took my child, hasn't God given him to me? He took it. Where is my child? In heaven? So what happens there? He reposes there.

Behind every test lurks the will of God and the benefit which naturally he could not see at that time, but with time he will know the benefit. We have many such examples.

Like also the Saints Andronicus and Athanasia. They were a couple. He was a jeweler of great wealth, etc. Part of his profit from work was used to feed his family. Another part of his profit he gave to the poor and a third of his profit was lent to people who had no money, interest free. They had two happy daughters. One day both died from sickness. Both parents went to bury them. Athanasia, the unfortunate one, would cry inconsolably over their graves. So did Andronicus. With great pain he started for home. Poor Athanasia stayed behind to mourn over their graves. "My children" and "My children" she cried. The sun was setting and the cemetery was closing. In her sorrow she saw a monk coming to her and telling her: "Lady why are you crying?"

"How could I not cry Father?" (She thought he was the priest of the cemetery). "I buried both my children, my two Angels, I laid them in their graves and I and my husband are left alone. We have no more freshness anymore.

He tells her: "Your children are in Paradise with the Angels. They are in the joy and grace of God and you cry? Pity, and you are a Christian. "So they live my children? Are they Angels? Of course your children are Angels"

He was the Saint of that Church. Finally both Andronicus and Athanasia became monastics and were sanctified.

With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God 

+Father George