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.
THE VENERATION OF HOLY RELICS AND REMAINS OF THE SAINTS (Part III)
By Archpriest Vasily Demidov
The Lord Performed Miracles Through Tangible Objects
"And they besought Him that they might touch if it were, but the border of His garment; and as many as touched Him were made whole" (St. Mark 6:56).
"And a certain woman, who had an issue of blood twelve years when she had heard of Jesus, came in the crowd behind and touched His garment. For she said "If I may touch but His clothes, I shall be whole.' And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. And Jesus immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned about in the crowd, and said, 'Who hath touched My clothes?" (St. Mark 17:20). The woman believed deeply in the Wonderworker and received healing according to her faith, for, in the words of the Scripture, faith can move mountains (cf., St. Matthew 17:20; St. Mark 11:23)
The Holy Scripture shows us that Christ our Savior Himself was not unique in the performing of inexplicable, miraculous healings, but gave such power to His Apostles as well and, after them, to their successors the Christian ascetics.
It is not man who, by his own power and might, performs great deeds, but Almighty God, Who is wondrous in His Saints, "And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul, so that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirit went out of them" (Acts 19:11-12).
And it was not only through tangible objects such as the garments of Christ, of the kerchiefs and aprons of Paul that alleviation of pain and complete healing was bestowed upon them that believed the Lord, multitudes both of men and women, insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them...and they were healed every one" (Acts 5:14-16).
Many regard with perplexity the Gospel account of the healing of the man born blind, and they ask: Why did Christ employ this outlandish method of healing? He spat on the ground and made some mud with His spittle, and with this, He anointed the eyes of the blind man and said: "Go, wash in the Pool of Siloam...He went his way, therefore, and washed, and came seeing" (cf., St. John 9:1-7). Christ utilized clay and washing in the pool as the media of the spiritual gifts bestowed upon the man born blind, and in such a manner, through tangible things, clay and water, granted him healing if the Savior and Wonderworker acted thus, it means that He deemed this method necessary, and no one can question or object, asking why He acted thus. "Who art thou that repliest against God?" (Romans 9:20).
Why were these mystical and inexplicable events necessary for the infant Christian Church? What purpose did the Apostles pursue by using kerchiefs and aprons when they performed miraculous signs? What of Peter's shadow? Would it not have sufficient to utter a single sermon about Jesus Christ, His teaching, miracles, and Resurrection? Why did the Apostles consider special signs, outside the realm of ordinary life, necessary for the bestowal of healing upon those what suffered from bodily infirmities? The Holy Scripture explain what the Lord's purpose was in granting these signs and miracles. Saint Luke, the author of the Book of Acts, presents such an explanation in this grace-bearing passage. "The Lord...gave testimony unto the word of His grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands" (Acts 14:3). The Church of Christ was then only in its infancy. Christians were surrounded by ravenous wolves, like a flock of meek sheep. To destroy this little community would not have been a great task. However, it was in God's plan to convert the hardhearted Jews to faith in Him Who was crucified and rose again, and through them, as with a tool, to plant the Church throughout the whole world, giving her the promise that "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it...even unto the end of the ages" (St. Matthew 16:18; 28:20). In order to draw the hearts of stiff-necked Israel to the faith in the confirmation of the "word of grace" and preaching of the Apostles, the Lord gave signs of healing and miracles which flowed forth abundantly upon the faithful who received manifold gifts of the Holy Spirit. If the Spirit will abide eternally in the Church of Christ as the Savior has promised (St. John 14:16), the abundance of His gifts, poured forth in miracles and signs, shall be forever, even until the end of his age. The beginning of the Church of Christ shall be in accord with her end.
As in the first, Apostolic Community, many miracles were observed, so shall it be at Christ's Second Coming. The holy king and Psalmist David states prophetically: "Many are the tribulations of the righteous, and the Lord shall deliver them out of them all" (Psalm 33:20). Dying a single death, the righteous man, like all men, paying back his earthly debt, returns to the earth, and his spirit returns to God (Eccles. 12:7), but by the special Providence of God, his bones are not destroyed but made he instrument of signs and wonders. Concerning this, the holy Apostle Paul wrote cryptically to the Thessalonians: "The very God of peace sanctify you wholly, and I pray God your "whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Thess. 23-24). "Spirit and soul" are the one, spiritual essence of man: it will be returned to God, for He gave it, but the body in all its fullness can be preserved by the almighty right hand of God without any decay until the Coming of the wrought during their lifetime. In this prophetical contemplation Saint John beheld the fate of those that died in the Lord: "Blessed are the dead that die in the lord from henceforth. Yea, saith the spirit, that they may rest from their labors, and their works do follow them" (Revelation 14:13).
(To be continued)
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!" - Saint John Chyrsostomos
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God