Sunday, August 2: “This is a lonely place!”

THE EIGHTH EOTHINON GOSPEL

The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Saint John 20:11-18

At that time, Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” Saying this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, I am ascending to My Father and your Father, to My God, and your God.” Mary Magdalene went and said to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord.” And she told them that He had said these things to her.

THE EPISTLE

The Reading from the First Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians 1:10-17

Brethren, I appeal to you, by the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissension among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brethren. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” August 02, 2020 Liturgy Variables 2 8th Sun. after Pentecost or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispos and Gaius; lest anyone should say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the Gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

THE GOSPEL

The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew 14:14-22

At that time, when Jesus went ashore he saw a great throng; and he had compassion on them, and healed their sick. When it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said, “This is a lonely place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They said to Him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” And He said, “Bring them here to Me.” Then He ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass; and taking the five loaves and the two fish He looked up to Heaven, and blessed, and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. Then Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowds.

ORTHROS

RESURRECTIONAL APOLYTIKION

Thou didst shatter death by Thy Cross, Thou didst open paradise to the thief; Thou didst turn the sadness of the ointment-bearing women into joy. And didst bid Thine Apostles proclaim a warning, that Thou hast risen O Christ, granting to the world the Great Mercy.

APOLYTIKION OF ST. STEPHEN THE ARCHDEACON

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

The crown of the Kingdom hath adorned the brow of thy head because of the contests that thou hast endured for Christ God, thou first of the martyred Saints; for when thou hadst censured the Jews’ madness, thou sawest Christ thy Savior standing at the right hand of the Father. O Stephen, ever pray Him for us, that He would save our souls.

RESURRECTIONAL THEOTOKION

Both now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

The Mystery which was hidden from everlasting and was unknown of the angels, O Theotokos, wast revealed through thee, to those who dwell upon earth. In that God, having become incarnate— in unconfused union—of His own good will accepted the Cross for our sake. Whereby He raised again the first created, and hath saved our souls from death.

DIVINE LITURGY

RESURRECTIONAL APOLYTIKION

Thou didst shatter death by Thy Cross, Thou didst open paradise to the thief; Thou didst turn the sadness of the ointment-bearing women into joy. And didst bid Thine Apostles proclaim a warning, that Thou hast risen O Christ, granting to the world the Great Mercy.

APOLYTIKION OF ST. STEPHEN THE ARCHDEACON

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

The crown of the Kingdom hath adorned the brow of thy head because of the contests that thou hast endured for Christ God, thou first of the martyred Saints; for when thou hadst censured the Jews’ madness, thou sawest Christ thy Savior standing at the right hand of the Father. O Stephen, ever pray Him for us, that He would save our souls.

THE APOLYTIKON OF THE PROTECTION OF THE MOST HOLY THEOTOKOS

Today the Virgin stands in the midst of the Church, and with choirs of Saints she invisibly prays to God for us. Angels and Bishops venerate Her, Apostles and prophets rejoice together, since for our sake she prays to the Eternal God!

ORDINARY KONTAKION

O protection of Christians that cannot be put to shame, mediation unto the Creator most constant, O despise not the suppliant voices of those who have sinned; but be thou quick, O good one, to come unto our aid, who in faith cry unto thee: Hasten to intercession, and speed thou to make supplication, thou who dost ever protect, O Theotokos, them that honor thee.

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

The Miracle of the Five Loaves and Two Fishes

Matthew 14:14-22

From The Explanation of the Gospel of St. Matthew by Blessed Theophylact, Archbishop of Ochrid and Bulgaria

13-14. And when the people had heard thereof, they followed Him on foot out of the cities. And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and He healed their sick. The multitude show their faith by running to Jesus even as He is departing, for which they receive healing as the reward of faith. Their following on foot and without any provisions are also signs of faith.

15-16. And when it was evening, His disciples came to Him, saying, This is a desert place, and the hour is now late; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy food for themselves. But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart;

17-19. And they say unto Him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes. He said, Bring them hither to Me. And He commanded the multitude to recline on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, He blessed. “Bring the loaves here to Me. Though it be evening, I Who created the hours am here. Though it be a deserted place, it is I Who giveth food to all flesh.” We learn from this that we must spend in hospitality even the little that we have, just as the apostles gave to the crowds the little that they had. As that little was multiplied, so too will your little be multiplied. He bids the multitude to recline on the grass, teaching frugality, so that you also, O reader, may not take your ease on expensive beds and couches. He looks up to heaven and blesses the loaves, as if both to confirm that He is not opposed to God but that He came from the Father and from heaven, and also to teach us to give thanks when we begin a meal and only then to eat.

19-21. And He brake, and gave the loaves to His disciples, and the disciples gave them to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children. He gives the loaves to the disciples so that they might always retain the miracle in their memory and not have it fade from their minds, although they did in fact immediately forget. There was food left over lest you think that He performed the miracle only in appearance.

There were twelve baskets so that Judas too might carry one and thus remembering the miracle not rush headlong into betrayal. And He multiplies both the loaves and the fish to show that He is the Creator of earth and sea, and the Giver of what we eat every day and it is multiplied by Him. He performed the miracle in a deserted place lest anyone think that He bought the loaves from a neighboring town and distributed them to the multitude, for it was deserted. This is the explanation of the literal account. But in its spiritual sense, learn that when Herod, who represents the fleshly and superficial mind of the Jews (for “Herod” means “fleshly” and “skin-like”), cut off the head of John who was the head and chief of the prophets, it showed that Herod rejected those who prophesied of Christ. Whereupon Jesus withdrew to a desert place, to the nations who were desolate without God, and He healed the sick in soul and then He fed them. If He had not forgiven our sins and healed our sicknesses by baptism, He could not have nourished us by giving us the immaculate Mysteries, for no one partakes of Holy Communion who has not first been baptized. The five thousand are those who are sick in their five senses and who are healed by the five loaves. Since the five senses were diseased, there are as many poultices as there are wounds. The two fish are the words of the fishermen. The one fish is the Gospel and the other the Epistles. Some have understood the five loaves to signify the Pentateuch of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Twelve baskets were lifted up and carried by the apostles; for whatever we, the multitude, are unable to eat, that is, to understand, the apostles carried and held, that is, they accepted and understood. Besides women and children. This means, allegorically, that a Christian man, woman, or child, must not in any way be childish, womanly, or unmanly.

22. And straightway Jesus constrained His disciples to get into a boat, and to go before Him unto the other side, while He sent the ultitudes away. By using the word constrained, Matthew suggests how inseparable the disciples were from Jesus, for they wanted to be with Him at all times. He sends the multitudes away, not wishing to draw them after Him lest He appear to vaunt in His powers.

Dormition of the Theotokos

The feast of the Dormition or Falling-asleep of the Theotokos is celebrated on the fifteenth of August, preceded by a two-week fast. This feast, which is also sometimes called the Assumption, commemorates the death, resurrection and glorification of Christ’s mother. It proclaims that Mary has been “assumed” by God into the heavenly kingdom of Christ in the fullness of her spiritual and bodily existence. As with the nativity of the Virgin and the feast of her entrance to the temple, there are no biblical or historical sources for this feast. The Tradition of the Church is that Mary died as all people die, not “voluntarily” as her Son, but by the necessity of her mortal human nature which is indivisibly bound up with the corruption of this world. The Orthodox Church teaches that Mary is without personal sins. In the Gospel of the feast, however, in the liturgical services and in the Dormition icon, the Church proclaims as well that Mary truly needed to be saved by Christ as all human persons are saved from the trials, sufferings and death of this world; and that having truly died, she was raised up by her Son as the Mother of Life and participates already in the eternal life of paradise which is prepared and promised to all who “hear the word of God and keep it” (Lk11.27–28). In giving birth, you preserved your virginity. In falling asleep you did not forsake the world, O Theotokos. You were translated to life, O Mother of Life, and by your prayers, you deliver our souls from death (Troparion). Neither the tomb, nor death, could hold the Theotokos, who is constant in prayer and our firm hope in her intercessions. For being the Mother of Life, she was translated to life, by the One who dwelt in her virginal womb (Kontakion). The services of the feast repeat the main theme, that the Mother of Life has “passed over into the heavenly joy, into the divine gladness and unending delight” of the Kingdom of her Son (Vesperal hymn).

The Old Testament readings, as well as the gospel readings for the Vigil and the Divine Liturgy, are exactly the same as those for the feast of the Virgin’s nativity and her entrance into the Temple. Thus, at the Vigil we again hear Mary say: “My soul magnifies the Lord and my Spirit rejoices in God my Saviour” (Lk 1.47).

At the Divine Liturgy we hear the letter to the Philippians where Saint Paul speaks of the self-emptying of Christ whocondescends to human servitude and ignoble death in order to be “highly exalted by God his Father” (Phil 2.5–11). And once again we hear in the Gospel that Mary’s blessedness belongs to all who “hear the word of God and keep it” (Lk 11.27–28).

Thus, the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos is the celebration of the fact that all men are “highly exalted” in the blessedness of the victorious Christ, and that this high exaltation has already been accomplished in Mary the Theotokos. The feast of the Dormition is the sign, the guarantee, and the celebration that Mary’s fate is, the destiny of all those of “low estate” whose souls magnify the Lord, whose spirits rejoice in God the Saviour, whose lives are totally dedicated to hearing and keeping the Word of God which is given to men in Mary’s child, the Saviour and Redeemer of the world.

Finally, it must be stressed that, in all of the feasts of the Virgin Mother of God in the Church, the Orthodox Christians celebrate facts of their own lives in Christ and the Holy Spirit. What happens to Mary happens to all who imitate her holy life of humility, obedience, and love. With her all people will be “blessed” to be “more honorable than the cherubim and beyond compare more glorious than the seraphim” if they follow her example. All will have Christ born in them by the Holy Spirit. All will become temples of the living God. All will share in the eternal life of His Kingdom who live the life that Mary lived. In this sense everything that is praised and glorified in Mary is a sign of what is offered to all persons in the life of the Church. It is for this reason that Mary, with the divine child Jesus within her, is called in the Orthodox Tradition the Image of the Church. For the assembly of the saved is those in whom Christ dwells. It is the custom in some churches to bless flowers on the feast of the Dormition of the Holy Theotokos.

Profitable Word

The appropriate organs to receive the divine gifts

Saint Maximos the Confessor

“The intellect is the organ of wisdom, whereas the reason is that of knowledge. The natural, internal certainty of the intellect and of the reason is the organ of faith, which is a product of wisdom and knowledge. Natural charity is the organ of the gift of healing. Because every divine gift has the apposite and appropriate receptor of the organ as a force or attraction or inclination. For example, people who cleanse their intellect of every fantasy, receive wisdom. People who have set reason in control of their innate passions, I mean longing and desire, receive knowledge. People who have unshakable certainty, with their intellect and reason, as regards divine matters, receive faith that is capable of anything. And those who have performed natural charity, having completely uprooted their selfishness, receive the gifts of healing.”

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