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.
THE FRUIT OF PENTECOST: THE HOLY SPIRIT AND HEALING (PART II)
by Reverend Father George Morelli
Understanding the Heart
To help us understand in some meaningful way what the heart is in this human way, let us consider a homily by Saint John Chrysostom. He describes a man who praises another for his good looks, stately manner, wealth, lovely house, fine clothes, and so on. Later the Saint said to the speaker: "Why did you not tell me anything about the man himself? Nothing you told me is about the man himself." What would God see in us? Our acts of charity or those things which make us look good? Does He see us helping others in His name, or doing it for show or prestige? Do we perform for fame? Would He see us giving of ourselves to others or exploiting or maneuvering others to enhance our own power or satisfy our lust? It is not charity, helping others, good performance or attaining titles that makes us holy: it is what is in our hearts. Dead water can flow from our heart too. Did not Jesus tell us: "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth that which is evil. For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." (St. Luke 6:45). However, Jesus gives us the key to what is "Living water": "For whosoever shall give you to drink a cup of water in my name, because you belong to Christ: amen I say to you, he shall not his reward" (St. Mark 9:40). So what we do in the name of Jesus is what will be sanctified and living water, what we do in our names, for our motives, will be damned and be dead water. As Jesus promised at Pentecost, those present, and the entire Church right down to us today: "But the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you" (St. John 14:26). "Blessed are the pure of heart..." (St. Matthew 5:8).
The Holy Spirit the Giver of the Heart's Life
True healing involves the Holy Spirit, and this Holy Spirit was made known to us at Pentecost. Of course, the work of the Spirit is everywhere and at all times present. Remember Jesus' words: "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (St. John 3:5). Saint John Chrysostom tells us: "For the grace of the Spirit, when it has entered into the mind and has been established, springs us more than any fountain, fails not, becomes not empty, stays not. To signify therefore at once its unfailing supply and unlimited operation, He has called it "a well" and "rivers," not one river but numberless. (Saint John Chrysostom, Homily 51 on St. John 7)
Consider also the words of Saint Gregory the Theologian: "If indeed anything is to be considered great and worthy of the Majesty of God, which was either promised or taught...look at these facts: Christ is born; the Spirit is His Forerunner. He is baptized; the Spirit bears witness. He is tempted; the Spirit leads Him up. He works miracles; the Spirit accompanies them. He ascends; the Spirit takes His place. (Saint Gregory the Theologian, 5th Theological Oration). The Holy Spirit accompanies all that Christ does, in fact the Holy Trinity is one unity, substance and action, although a great mystery--while three persons while always acting in unity. Where the healing Christ, begotten of the Father, there as we have come to know, is the Spirit Who heals. As Saint Gregory Nazianzus tells us: "All that God actively performs He [the Holy Spirit] performs." And the Saint reminds us: "He reveals, illumines, gives life--or rather, is absolutely light and life."
The Holy Spirit: The Spirit of Healing
Recall Saint Paul's words to St. Titus: "But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by His grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life" (St. Titus 3:4-7).
The Mystery of Holy Unction (Holy Oil or Efchelaion)
The Epistle of Saint James tells us of Christ's commission to the presbyters (priests) to heal the sick: "Is any one among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders (presbyters) of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven" (Saint James [Iakovos] 5:13-15).
In the Mystery (Sacrament) of Holy Unction this is accomplished by anointing with the Holy Oil by the Holy Spirit. One of the Holy Oil prayers reads: "That this oil may be blessed by the power, and operation and indwelling of the Holy Spirit..."
Healing Using all our Godly Gifts
The gift of healing is not limited to prayer, but can be by the gift of physical healing as well. All healing is accomplished by the action of the Holy Spirit. Recall Saint Paul's letter to the Corinthians, the Holy Spirit gives various gifts "...to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish (discern) spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are inspired by one and the same Spirit, Who apportions to each one individually as He wills" (1 Corinthians 2).
The Church is a Hospital
Saint John Chrysostom presented us with the idea that the entire Church is a hospital, thereby expressing in clearer theological terms the relationship between the healing of the body and soul practiced by the early healers. The Parable of the Good Samaritan is the model St. John used (also St. Luke 1:3ff) when the Good Samaritan exemplifies Christ who, as the Great Physician, comes to broken mankind (the old man beaten by robbers and lying on the road) in order to bring healing. The Inn into which Good Samaritan delivered the suffering man is the Church.
In the 4th century various healing centers were opened and administrated by the Orthodox Church, including homes for the poor, orphans, the aged and hospitals. Many of these centers were associated with monasteries. The health care workers, the physicians, nurses, and psychologists of the day were often monks themselves. Saint Basil the Great of Caesarea (370-379 AD) was trained in medicine and was reported to have worked with the monks in ministering to the ill and infirm.
Saint John Chrysostom, as Patriarch of Constantinople (390 AD), used the wealth of the Church to open hospitals and other philanthropic institutions, which earned him great love from the people. Within two centuries the rapid growth of thee centers necessitated state funding although the Church retained the active administration and care-giving in the arrangement. Emperor Justinian moved the most important physicians into the hospitals, which enhanced the reputation of these centers.
(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!
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God