2015.03.03 Sunday of the Paralytic –To Become One: A Call to Participate
After so many years of speaking about the Gospel, I don’t want to speak about it today, but instead to talk about what we are doing here. Many people say to us that the Church must have activities. And we try to do activities, but without success.
And I was thinking that we have one activity that is the most important thing in the heavens and the Earth. And this is what I will talk to you about today – the Liturgy. What is the Liturgy? It is that we come all together first. Of course, I hope to talk about this a little more after the Liturgy. But it is very important to understand that we are not alone when we do this. We bring to the Church all the universe. We bring to the Church our needs, our sorrows, our beloved people, our dead people.
And we come here to become one. Somebody might say, why should I become one with this person or that person, you might be dirty or bad, so why should I become one with him. When I say to become one, I don’t mean to lose what you are. We don’t become a soup where you can’t distinguish the oil and other things that we put inside. But you must know from philosophy, from sociology the point of view that one human being who is not connected by relationships with other human beings is a kind of savage, not like a real human being.
Somebody asked me yesterday, how to become one? And how is it, through some operation or medical procedure? I say that to become one is not to have one common way of thinking. This becoming one is the gift of God. This is why God becomes human, becomes this bread and wine, so that when I take Him and you take Him, we become one by Him. To become one through Him is very important because it is bodily to become one; it is not philosophy, like we might accept this philosophical teaching or another; it is not that.
And it is very important that you are receiving the Holy Communion because you are not alone. You cannot come here individually and just say, “I want to receive the Holy Communion.” Of course, somebody might ask, “But Father you go to other towns carrying the Holy Communion and you give the Holy Communion to people in stations or other places. Then where are the other people?” But the meaning is that when we receive the Holy Communion under special circumstances, like when somebody is in the hospital or something like that, but the person can take it because this happens in the community.
So, one thing about the Liturgy is that it is so holy. But if you think about something that is holy, then it seems like something far away and magic. And it is very important that in the Liturgy we do something. People ask me why I am Orthodox and what is this religion? Is it better that other religions? Orthodox is not a religion. It is ecclesia, which is Greek for community; and it is the Liturgy. This is very important.
And from now on, please, I am begging you to do something. I want you to bring me a little of bread. It can be something you buy from a store downstairs and I will do the liturgy with that. It is OK to buy it since you don’t make it in your houses and if I ask you to make it, you will not make it, so I will take a small piece whatever you bring. And bring a small piece of paper with the names of your living and dead people. Or you can have a small medicine bottle with a little wine and you can give me the small bottle with a little catalogue of your living and dead people. When I was on the small Greek island of Kalinos, which is a very traditional place, the women there would come with a small medicine bottle of wine, and I would have a glass that they would put it into and then I would use it for the Holy Communion.
It is very important to understand that to participate, know that you are one, to know that your small piece of bread, it is for you. You must do it for yourself. I could do it, of course, but you cannot stay here just watching. It is good to inform the others not to come again with empty hands.
After eighteen years I have never asked you for money. I am not asking you for this. When I was on Kalinos, the old women were giving me money. I did not want it, but they told me that it was very offensive not to take it, so I was accepting it to buy chocolates for the kids. But anyhow, I never ask you for money here, and you should remember that. But even if you don’t bring anything, you will give me the names of your living and dead beloved people. Not just once, but every time you come to the Liturgy.
You must understand that you come here for a reason. You don’t come here for something “holy”, to see some person dressed in strange clothes who is doing some kind of magic so you can get some kind of power. You don’t come for this. You come here to become one with your dead people and your living people and with all the universe. And this cannot be done in a human way. And that is the point of God who becomes human, who becomes this bread and wine He becomes part of my body and your body because we receive the same Holy Communion.
Once more I say, when you receive the Holy Communion, it is not an individualistic thing where you receive it and somebody else does not receive it and it is your problem, not his. That is very wrong. You can receive the Holy Communion because somebody else receives it. And this is the highest activity that exists in Heaven and Earth .
And after finishing this we then eat common food together. Don’t misunderstand that what we do in the Liturgy and what we will do in a few minutes are two separate things, where one is holy and the other is not holy. It is a continuation of life, because we need also to have common food and the common food comes with the Body of Jesus Christ that we already have inside of us.
At another time I will say to you more. But don’t thing that what I am saying is just some crazy idea of Father Jonah. If you search the writings of the first Christianity and if you see the songs of the Church, you will see exactly what I am saying. This is why in the monasteries when we are finished with the Liturgy, even after we have taken off our formal clothes, but in a very ceremonial and solemn way we go to eat: to continue the Liturgy by eating.
So I hope from now that when you come to the church you can ask the others where is the list of their names. You should remember that you are coming here for a reason. If you go to the office or to school you need to bring paper and things to work with; it is the same.
Recorder: Prof. Baker
Acts of the Apostles 9:32-42
IN THOSE DAYS, as Peter went here and there among them all, he came down also to the saints that lived at Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden for eight years and was paralyzed. And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; rise and make your bed.” And immediately he rose. And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord. Now there was at Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. In those days she fell sick and died; and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him entreating him, “Please come to us without delay.” So Peter rose and went with them. And when he had come, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping, and showing tunics and other garments which Dorcas made while she was with them. But Peter put them all outside and knelt down and prayed; then turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, rise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. And he gave her his hand and lifted her up. Then calling the saints and widows he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.
The Gospel of John 5:1-15
At that time, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Hebrew called Bethesda which has five porticoes. In these lay a multitude of invalids, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water; for an angel of the Lord went down at certain seasons into the pool, and troubled the water; whoever stepped in first after the troubling of the water was healed of whatever disease he had. One man was there, who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him and knew that he had been lying there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is troubled, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your pallet, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his pallet and walked. Now that day was the sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who was cured, “It is the sabbath, it is not lawful for you to carry your pallet.” But he answered them, “The man who healed me said to me, ‘Take up your pallet, and walk.’ “They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your pallet, and walk’?” Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. Afterward, Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse befall you.” The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him.