“Come and see a man which told me all things that ever I did. Is this not the Christ?” (John 4:29)
Brothers and Sisters! Today is the Fifth Sunday “of” Pascha, not the Fifth Sunday “after” Pascha, as Pascha goes on for the “Great Fifty Days”! The “Eastern” Church is the “Easter” Church! All year round, St. Seraphim greeted everyone with the paschal greeting: “Christ is Risen, my joy!” Fr. Lev Gillet, who writes under the name of “A Monk of the Eastern Church” writes: “O Holy Orthodox Church which knows as no other, how to sing the joy of Pascha!”
Every year at this time, I read a wonderful little book entitled: “With the Russian Pilgrims to Jerusalem” by Stephen Graham, an Englishman who spoke perfect Russian and disguised himself as a Russian pilgrim in the early part of the 20th Century. When he reaches the Saviour’s Tomb, he says the following: “A strange thought rose to my mind as I bent down to enter this Holy of Holies: that Mary, the Mother of God was the first pilgrim to the Life-Giving Grave; and up to that moment at least, I was the last!” Here is even an Anglican admitting not only that Mary is the Mother of God; but also that she was the first at the Tomb!
Every Sunday of the year, the weekly anniversary of the Resurrection; after the reading of the Gospel and hearing the hymn: “Having beheld the Resurrection of Christ, let us worship the Holy Lord Jesus the Only Sinless One…”, and having venerated the Holy Gospels, we, like Mary, have kissed the feet of Jesus in a mystical, yet real, manner, for, by “anamnesis” the Resurrection is made present to us and we to it.
“…and He abode there two days.” (John 5:40) The Gadarenes besought Him to leave their country after the herd of pigs rushed over the cliff and was destroyed. The Nazarenes sought to pitch Him head long from the brow of a hill because of His words. The Samaritans, heretics, besought Him to tarry with them, and He abode there two days. We do not know what Our Lord said or did during the two days He was with the heretics. The Jews, the “official” Church, would not listen to Our Lord, only the Samaritans, the heretics! We will not be saved simply because we are Orthodox; although in the Church we have everything we need for our salvation.. if we will only use it! “Work out your salvation in fear and trembling.” (Phillipians 2:12).
The Roman catacombs contain no less than five murals of this scene of the Samaritan Woman at the well, and one at the church of Dura Europa, an early example of a “house church”. Iconoclasts take note!
“Come and see a man that told me all things that ever I did. Is this not the Christ?” The Samaritan Woman has become an evangelist! Are we? I walk our dogs every day and after people ask me what kind of dogs they are, the next question is: “Father, what parish are you in?” Then I whip out my flyers. One day, I gave out four flyers and one person came to church! Remember, we don’t need to SAY anything or necessarily DO anything: it is more a question of who we ARE. Being an evangelist or witness is better than being a preacher. The preacher says: “Believe this” or “do this” but the witness says: “This is what happened to me.”
“Ye worship ye know not what!” Our Lord says to the Samaritan woman. (John 4:22) We cannot say that Our Lord is an ecumenist! He does not say that “one religion is as good as another”or: “We all worship the same God, don’t we?” but, rather bluntly: “Ye know not what ye worship: we know what we worship…” He would be considered very impolite in ecumenical circles today!
According to The Tradition, the Samaritan woman was called “Photini”. She went on to convert Nero’s daughter and was martyred herself by being thrown into a well. She who first encountered the Light of Truth ended her life in a well.
“Come and see a man that told me all things that ever I did. Is this not the Christ?”
TO PARISHIONERS and FRIENDS of ST. THEODORE’S!
As a means of keeping in touch, I am sending out excerpts of previous Sunday sermons each week. Feel free to “unsubscribe” at any time!
Please keep me in your prayers. I celebrated the 51st !!! anniversary of my ordination on May 11.
Letter to North York General Hospital Pastoral Services:
To Whom It May Concern:
I am sorry to hear that free parking at the hospital will no longer be available to the clergy. I have been visiting the sick and dying at North York and other Toronto area hospitals for 40 years. No Orthodox priest “retires”, and although I will enter my 84th year in August, and am “officially” retired, (i.e., no longer receive a stipend); I continue a full time ministry to the sick and shut ins. Since for the past 15 years, I have received only Canada/Old Age Pensions, it will be difficult or impossible to continue visiting North York and other hospitals which have also recently rescinded free parking for the clergy.
I hope North York will reconsider it’s policy for clergy parking.
Father David Belden, St. Theodore of Canterbury Orthodox Mission, Toronto