Beloved brothers and sisters in Our Risen Lord, God, Redeemer and the Only True Savior of the world Jesus Christ,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
THE SUNDAY GOSPEL FOR THE SUNDAY OF THE BLINDMAN
[Before reading the Gospel the priest reads in a low voice the following prayer, asking for the blessing and help of God that His word may be fruitful in our hearts. Every Christian should say this prayer to himself, because the word of God only by His help can bear fruits in our hearts.]
Shine in our hearts, O Merciful Master, the pure Light of Thy Divine knowledge, and open the eyes of our mind that we may understand the teachings of Thy Gospel; implant in us also the fear of Thy Blessed Commandments, that we, trampling down all carnal desires, may enter upon a spiritual manner of living both thinking and doing all those things that please Thee. For Thou art the Source of Light for our souls and bodies, O Christ Our God, and unto Thee we ascribe glory, together with Thy Eternal Father, and Thine All-Holy, Good, and Life-Giving Spirit, now and forever, and from all ages to all ages. Amen.
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On May 24th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and of every righteous soul made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Our Righteous Father Symeon of the Wondrous Mountain; on this day we commemorate the Holy Martyrs Meletius the Commander and those with him and another 11,208 who were martyred with them in the reign of Antoninus Pius; Holy Martyrs and brethren Donatianus and Rogatianus of Nantes in Brittany; Saint Nicetas the Stylite of Pereyaslavl-Zalessky, the Wonderworker; Saint Gregory, Archbishop of Novgorod.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Fathers, Holy Mothers, Holy Archbishops, Holy Ascetics, Holy Monastics, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
SUNDAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: II Corinthians 4:6-15
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 9:1-38
INSPIRING SAYINGS FROM THE WORKS OF THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
Take Communion Every Day
"Frequent communion is life many times over, says St. Basil the Great. Offered the gift of eternal life, who wouldn't want to go to Liturgy every day? "It's good for us to commune every day, partaking of the Holy Body and Blood of Christ. He says quite clearly, 'he who eats My Body and drinks My Blood has eternal life' (St. John 6:54). And who can doubt that sharing in life frequently is the same as having life many times over? I myself commune four times a week: on the Lord's Day, on Wednesday, on Friday, and on Saturday--and on the other days if they commemorated any Saints." [Saint Basil the Great, Letter 93]
Holy Gospel Lesson according to Saint John 9:1-38
"And as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from his birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. I must work the works of Him that sent Me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the Light of the world..."
The commentary (explanation) is given by Saint Theophylact:
"The Lord leaves the temple in order to dampen the anger of the Jews a little, and turns to the healing of the blind man. By this miracle He attempts to soften their stubborn disbelief, though they derived no benefit from it; at the same time, He shows them that He did not speak idly or boastfully when He said, 'Before Abraham was, I am' (St. John 8:58). Behold this miracle, the like of which has never been seen: others have restored the sight of blind men, but never of a man born blind. It is clear that Christ performed this miracle as God Who is before Abraham. To prove this to the Jews, He intentionally approached the blind man, and not vice versa. When they see the Lord looking intently at the blind man, the disciples ask, 'Who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?' This question appears to be illogical. How could the man have sinned before he was born? The Apostles, of course, did not accept the foolish notion that the soul commits sin in another world, before the body is formed, and is punished by being joined to the body. Being fishermen, they would never have heard of this teaching of the Greek philosophers. Their question, then, might appear foolish, but not to one who is attentive. The Apostles heard Christ tell the paralytic, 'Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee' (St. John 5:14). Now they see the blind man and wonder, 'The paralytic was punished because of his sins; but what do You say about this man? How could he have been punished for his sins? He was blind from birth. Did his parents sin? That also cannot be, for a child is not punished for his father's sins.' Thus their question was an expression of perplexity, which the Lord dispels by explaining, 'Neither hath this man sinned, (who could he before he was born?) nor his parents.' Christ does not say simply, 'His parents did not sin,' implying that they were without fault; He adds, 'that he was born blind.' His parents did sin, but that was not the cause of his blindness. It would be unjust to charge the sins of parents to the children, who have done nothing wrong. God makes this clear through the words of the Prophet Ezekiel [18:2]: 'Let this parable no longer be spoken, "The fathers have eaten unripe grapes, and the children's teeth shall be set on edge." The Lord also gave this commandment, through Moses: 'And the sons shall not be put to death for the fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin [Dt. 24:18].
vs. 3-5. "Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. I must work the works of Him that sent Me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the Light of the world..."
Now another perplexity arises. One might ask, 'How could Christ say this? Was it not unjust to deprive this man of his sight so 'that the works of God should be made manifest in him?' Could not these works have been revealed some other way?" We would answer, 'How have you been treated unjustly, O man?' I have been robbed of light,' he replies. 'But what harm did you suffer by being deprived of material light? Now you have received not only physical vision, but that incomparable blessing--the enlightenment of the eyes of your soul." Thus the affliction was to the blind man's benefit, and through his healing he came to know the True Sun of Righteousness. Therefore, the blind man was not wronged; he was blessed."
Elder Cleopa on Spiritual Blindness
Let's now turn to the word "spiritual blindness". We all have seen blind people, either from birth or accidents or as a result of other severe illnesses. Whenever we see a blind person we sense sympathy, been sometimes moved to tears; that he cannot walk alone, nor that he is able to see the sky, or the sun, or the beauty of flowers...However, much heavier and more worthy of tears is the blindness of man's mind and heart, of his will and of his consciousness. For the soul is more precious than the body. As our Savior had said: "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" (St. Mark 8:36-37). Spiritual blindness is one of the weightiest diseases of the soul--created by God for immortality--causing its death and eternal condemnation. And so the healing of this illness is of a much greater difficulty and has more importance than the physical blindness.
And, what do we understand by spiritual blindness? What else than the darkness and enslavement of man's soul through all kinds of spiritual and bodily sins; the pride of the mind, the hardness of heart, the weakening of man's will and conscience, the unbelief, the doubt in the faith, the sectarianism and despair, the pride and suicide, the killing of body and soul, the killing of the unborn, the hate and the anger among people, divorce, fornication, lies, desire for wealth, stinginess, greediness, drunkenness, laziness and may others.
All sins sicken and drag the soul into blindness and apathy, and the body into heavy disease with no cure. And if we don't renounce of those sins that enslave us, through repentance, confession and spiritual renewal, this spiritual blindness, as any disease, will lead to spiritual death and to condemnation of our soul to the torments of hell.
And so is the Christian man that renounces the faith and abandons the Church founded by Christ and by His Holy Apostles and falls into all sorts of heresies--no other than a spiritually blinded man! How about the Christian who does not come to the holy churches for years, does not pray nor read holy books and postpones repentance and confession until the hour of his death; is he someone other than a sick and a blinded man?
And the man so called Christian who spends his time, his wealth and his health in earthly worries and deadly sins; what is he, if not a blind and an unfortunate soul?
This earthly life is short, full of suffering and misleading, and the heavenly life is blessed and full of eternal bliss. Let us renounce the sins that blind and kill our soul and let us return to Christ. It is not enough to make the sign of the cross and say: 'Lord, Lord!' For we need a spiritual and profound renewal of life. We are required to free the eyes of our soul from passions and to wash them off into the water of Siloam, through the bath of confession, and to follow Christ and His Church established on this earth. Let us pray, be humble and reconciled with one another so by regularly attending church, doing charity and raise our children in the True faith and love of God, we may become good Christians and true sons and daughters of the Orthodox Church and inheritors of the Kingdom of Heaven. Amen."
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN! ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ! ΑΛΗΘΩΣ ΑΝΕΣΤΗ!
With sincere agape in Our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God