My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
EXPLAINING THE MYSTERY OF THE SABBATH AND OF THE LORD'S DAY
By Saint Gregory Palamas
Whatever is said in praise of the Seventh Day applies even more to the eighth, for the latter fulfills the former. It was Moses who unwittingly first ascribed honor to the eighth day, the Lord's Day. The Jubilee year (Lev. 25:8ff), which Moses regarded as a year of forgiveness and named accordingly, was not counted among the "weeks of years" under the law, but came after them all, and was an eighth year proclaimed after the last of these seven year periods. Moses did the same with regard to periods of seven weeks. However, the lawgiver did not only introduce in this hidden way the dignity of this eighth day, which we call the Lord's Day because it is dedicated to the Lord's resurrection, but also on the feast named "Trumpets" referred to the eighth day as the "final solemn assembly" (cf. Lev. 23:36; Num. 39:35), meaning the completion and the fulfillment of all the feasts. At that point he clearly said that the eighth day too would be called holy for us, proclaiming in advance how divine, glorious and august Sunday was to be after everything pertaining to the law had passed away.
Moses esteemed the seventh day because it led into the truly honorable eighth day. Just as the law given through him is honorable because it leads into the eighth day on which the Lord's Resurrection took place. The eighth day comes next after the seventh, and if you look carefully you will find that after the seventh day, when we are told that all the dead from past ages were resurrected, on the eighth day Christ rose. Not only was Christ's resurrection accomplished on the eighth day, but it was both the eighth day in relation to the day before, and also the first day in relation to the hoped-for-resurrection, the rising again, of all men in Christ. That is why Christ is hymned as "the first fruits of them that slept" (1 Corinthians 15:20) and "the first begotten of the dead (Revelation 1:5). In the same way, Sunday is not just the day eighth in order after the preceding days, but the first of the days, but the first of the days, which we call the Lord's Day, and which Moses referred to not as the first day but as "one day" (Genesis 1:5), being exalted above the others and the prelude of the one day without evening of the age to come.
You will understand how much better Sunday is than other feastdays from what follows. Every other festival comes round once a year, but the Lord's Day comes around four times every month, and this frequent recurrence makes the whole year a year of true remission for us, a year acceptable to the Lord (cf. Isa, 61:2). It was in order to reach us to celebrate it in practice at the end of each week that the Lord first appeared to the Disciples inside the house while Thomas was absent (St. John 20:19-24). He proved He was alive and gave them peace. By His breathing upon them He renewed the divine breath given in the beginning (Genesis 2:7) and endowed them with the grace of the Holy Spirit, imbuing them with divine power to bind and loose sins. He made them sharers in the exercise of His heavenly Lordship, saying to them, "Receive ye the Holy Spirit: Whosoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them, and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained" (St. John 20:22-23)...
"...You will see that it was Sunday when the Disciples assembled and the Lord came to them. On Sunday He approached them for the first time as they were gathered together, and eight days later, when Sunday came round again. He appeared to their assembly. Christ's Church continually reflects these gatherings by holding its meetings mostly on Sundays, and we come among you and preach what pertains to salvation and lead you towards piety and a godly way of life.
Let no one out of laziness or continuous worldly occupations miss these holy Sunday gatherings, which God Himself handed down to us, let him be justly abandoned by God and suffer like Thomas, who did not come at the right time. If you are detained and do not attend on one occasion, make up for it the next time, bringing yourself to Christ's Church. Otherwise you remain uncured, suffering from unbelief in your soul because of deeds or words, and failing to approach Christ's surgery to receive, like the divine Thomas, holy healing. There exist not only thoughts and words of faith but also deeds and acts of faith--"Show me", it says, "thy faith by thy works" (cf. St. James 2:18)--and if someone abandons these and is completely distanced from the Church of Christ and given over wholly to worthless pursuits, his faith is dead, or non-existent, and he himself has become dead through sin…
"...So let us, brethren, meet together and often come to God's Church, where all who are truly godly are present and never stay away. When each of you enters the church, look for the more godly of those within, whom you can recognize just by seeing how they stand in attentive silence. Watch for those who are more pious and God-fearing than the rest, and go and attach yourself to them, and attend upon God with them. When you come out after the dismissal on the Lord's Day and are at leisure form earthly work for the sake of Him Whose day it is, carefully search to see if there is an imitator of the Apostles who mostly stays indoors, longing for God with silent prayer, psalmody and other suitable practices. Approach such a person and enter his small room with faith as though you were entering a heavenly place containing the Spirit's sanctifying power. Sit down beside him and stay with him as long as possible. Talk to him about God and divine matters, asking questions, humbly learning and appealing for help through prayer. If you do this, I know for sure that Christ will invisibly come to you, give peace within the thinking part of your soul, increase your faith, strengthen your steadfastness, and in due time set you among His chosen in the Heavenly Kingdom.
May we all attain to this in Him Who has now died and risen for us and afterwards will come in glory, Christ the King of the ages, to Whom belongs glory unto the ages of ages. Amen.
(To be continued)
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--St. John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God