Sunday Articles

Apostles St.Peter and St. Paul
Apostles St.Peter and St. Paul

What a remarkable pair are SAINTS PETER and PAUL! The Church has always celebrated their feast-day together. It is fitting that this be so, since both labored so profoundly during the struggling days of the early Christian Faith.

Peter was a fisherman, but through his association with Christ he became a great leader of the Church. He established the Church at Antioch and was its first bishop. He preached the great message of Christ on Pentecost, bringing thousands into the Christian fold. He is thought to have been martyred together with Saint Paul about the year 65.

PAUL was a tent-maker, but became the Church's greatest missionary, traveling far and wide through the Greek world of the day, bringing the Gospel of the Lord. He risked his life for the Faith, he was beaten, he was shipwrecked, he was jailed, he suffered painful illness, yet he endured all for Christ. "Gladly will I glory my infirmities, that the strength of Christ may dwell in me," he said.

The fourteen Epistles written by St. Paul are the oldest portion of the New Testament, and contain profound explanation of the Christian faith and early Church life. The Scriptures tell of the missionary journeys of St. Paul, founding Churches in such places as Corinth, Ephesus and Philippi. His remarkable conversion to the Christian Faith is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles.

The Troparion for these two great saints goes as follows: "You princes of the Apostles and teachers of the universe, pray the Lord of all to grant peace to the world, and to give great mercy on our souls."

The Orthodox Weekly Bulletin - Cliffwood, NJ

The Icon of the Holy Trinity
The Icon of the Holy Trinity

The 18th Chapter of Genesis records the appearance of the Lord to Abraham on the plains of Mamre. One day he lifted his eyes to the door of his tent and saw 3 men standing there. He ran to meet them and bowed himself toward the ground. He welcomed them, and then asked Sarah, his wife, to prepare food for them.

To show that the three guests belong to the heavenly world, they are portrayed as angels. This image shows the first appearance of God to man, signifying the beginning of the promise of redemption to mankind. This promise was ultimately fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, when the final revelation concerning the Holy Trinity is given to the Apostles in Jerusalem. Therefore, we might say that the Holy Trinity literally binds together the beginning of the Old Testament Church with the establishment of the Church of the New Testament.

Today’s icon shows Abraham and Sarah serving their heavenly visitors. The table has on it a sacrificial dish, considered to b e a symbol of the Eucharist. All sacred images of the Trinity tend to present the angels with identical faces, emphasizing the single nature of the three Divine Persons. While enjoying the hospitality of Abraham, the angels reveal that in a year’s time, his wife Sarah will bear a son. They also, according to the Genesis account, foretell the destruction of the sinful cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

The Trinity itself is a mystery. Any attempt to set it into iconographic terms is fraught with difficulty, but our Church attempts to capture this essential part of our theology. We are reminded that our religion is TRINITARIAN in nature. The dogma states that God is “Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” Here it is depicted graphically.

The Orthodox Weekly Bulletin - Cliffwood, NJ

Icon of Holy Pentecost
Icon of Holy Pentecost

The icon for the feast of the PENTECOST has traditional elements that teach the spiritual structure of the Christian Church. Against the background of a temple, the Apostles are depicted in a circular form, giving the impression of unity.

But if the icon is a representation of the Church, then it must have more than Apostles depicted. And this is the case. Among the twelve are a number who were not of the original Twelve. There is St. Paul and the Evangelists Luke and Mark (who hold Gospels). The Apostles bear scrolls, for they are essentially teachers of Good News.

The Acts, describing the historic Descent of the Spirit, speaks of the multitude present on that occasion. Ancient icons did, in fact, depict multitudes in the lower central position of the icon. This has been replaced by the strange symbolic figure of a king. The man is in a dark place, for the world before Christ was lacking faith; he is depicted aged, for the sin of Adam has aged him; the crown signifies sin, which ruled the world; the cloth he holds, with the twelve scrolls, signifies the Twelve Apostles who brought light to the world through their proclamation of the news of Jesus Christ.

Because Pentecost was the baptism of the Church by fire, we see rays of fire descending upon the gathered group. And so we have finally, the fulfillment of the revelation of the Holy Trinity; the Father as Creator, the Son as Savior, and now the Holy Spirit, come as Comforter and Sanctifier of the Church.

The Orthodox Weekly Bulletin - Cliffwood, NJ

The Ascension of Our Lord
The Ascension of Our Lord

The time had come for our Lord to bid farewell to His Apostles. For three years, Jesus had prepared them for this inevitable day. They had listened intently to His preachings. They had seen Him work miracles. They observed Him carefully as He set the perfect example of how to live a righteous life. Yes, they were nearly ready to begin the work that Christ had commissioned them to do when He said, “GO AND TEACH ALL NATIONS.”

Christ knew that this assignment was not a simple one. He was aware that these loyal men would be met with hostility and even persecution. So as He physically departed from their midst when He ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives, Jesus left them with this comforting assurance: “LO, I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS.” Jesus had promised His Apostles that He would send them the Holy Spirit, Who would give them the strength, courage and guidance necessary for them to accomplish their missionary objectives. They were called upon to put their trust in their Master one final time and return to Jerusalem until that blessed moment when the Comforter would come to them.

Angels encouraged the Apostles with these words as Christ vanished from their sight: “MEN OF GALILEE, WHY ARE YOU STANDING HERE STARING AT THE SKY? JESUS HAS GONE AWAY TO HEAVEN, AND SOME DAY, JUST AS HE WENT, HE WILL RETURN!’ That is the day we ALL wait for!

The Orthodox Weekly Bulletin - Cliffwood, NJ

Sunday of the Blind Man
Sunday of the Blind Man

The big question in today’s Gospel story is this: Who is blind? Is it the man born with PHYSICAL blindness or the Pharisees with their SPIRITUAL impairment? Let us examine what St. Ambrose of Milan had to say about this miracle:

“There is blindness resulting from sickness which obscures the vision and is remedied by the passage of time. There is blindness, which is caused by some fluids and this, also, when the trouble is removed, is generally cured by the skill of medicine. From this you may know that when one is cured who has been blind from birth it is not a case of skill but of POWER. The Lord gave health, and HE used no medicine, for the Lord Jesus healed those whom no one else had cured…

He spit and made clay and spread the clay over the eyes of the blind man and said to him: “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.” So, he went away and washed and began to see. What is the reason for this? FOR HE WHOM JESUS TOUCHES SEE MORE.

Notice at the same time His divinity and His sanctity. As the Light, He touched and shed light; as a Priest, He fulfilled in the figure of baptism the mysteries of spiritual grace. May you realize that the things within Christ are light. One who is cleansed by the means which Christ uses truly sees.”

​The Orthodox Weekly Bulletin - Cliffwood, NJ

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