THE ENCOUNTER OF THE SAVIOR WITH THE SAMARITAN WOMAN IS THE SUPREME EXAMPLE OF A LIFE LESSON GIVEN BY GOD TO THE MAN

Priest Ioan Istrati

Midday, unbearable heat, the Son of God, exhausted of the journey and a woman gone unexpectedly at high noon to take out water.

Maybe because of shame or for another reason, she did not go in the morning like all the Samaritan  women to the spring but at high noon, when the earth is like an oven.

On one side, God, the One Who thoroughly knows the souls, having the soul of the Samaritan woman in His hand, watching with His piercing loving eyes the thousands of generations of suffering, abandonment and hope who were before that woman and all her apostolic future of sacrifice, joy and testimony.

When Christ wants to give the divine grace, to open the springs of the being to the pouring of light, when He sees the infinite desire of the man towards what`s uncreated,  He demands what He gives. He divinely reverses the roles. The spring of life becomes thirst for the beloved one. The giver of food to the whole universe is hungry for the love of men.

The One Who keeps in His hands safely the whole mankind desires to bend His head in the heart of the man who is a God bearing being. The spring of the eternal joy cries at the tomb of Lazarus. The hypostatic wisdom of Trinity asks questions about the events from Jerusalem. The eternal bread of all ages demands bread to eat from His creature.

This inversion of values comes from His endless humbleness which paradoxically unites the earth with the skies, the created with the uncreated, the man with God. Christ understands the human pains, not watching them from afar, from the condescension of an overruling sky, but feeling them and crying for the loss of the men whom He loved. In His Incarnation, Christ crushes His heart and enters the abyss of pain of mankind, He experiences in His love the abandonment of the man by God or better said the abandonment of the God by man: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

More than this: Christ not only feels the pains of the world, but He finds Himself in every poor, in every wretched man, in every suffering man of this world expanding divinely His healing being in all the oppressed of this earth:

`Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Each tear shed on earth flows through the eyes of Christ, falls on the cheeks of God and turns into a spring of light and comfort for those who are burdened by the yoke of this death.

BITTER CHERRY JAM

Priest Ioan Istrati

It was 10 years ago. I was a priest at the church Talpalari from Iași.

A very distinguished lady living very close to the church called me to her house. Her mother, of 80 years old, was in a comma, she hadn`t eaten or drunk anything for four days.

They had called the doctor who confirmed that all her organs were in collapse. `We`re waiting the end`, said the doctor. That lady had a plane ticket to go to her daughter in Canada so she was terribly concerned.

Either she left and the old woman died without her or she lost the plane tickets and could not leave anymore.

She told me:`Father, do something.`

I: My lady, we don`t pray for the people to die we pray for them to recover.`

`Yes, father, but I heard there are prayers for the release of the soul peacefully.`

We got in the wonderful villa from downtown Iasi. The old woman in a deep comma, with blank eyes and open mouth. I thought she had died. I noticed in the end a slight touch of breath from the moving of her chest.

I put my stole. I knew her faithful so I read the absolution prayer and communed her with the Body of Christ. Then I said the prayers for health, the release prayers, all of them.

Afterwards the lady told me: `Father, stay for a couple of minutes to eat some bitter cherry jam. It`s my favourite. We sat at 3 meters distance of the old woman and ate.

All of a sudden we heard: `You`re eating jam there and you don`t give to me? The old woman raised her head.

Her daughter googled her eyes and fainted falling down like a tree. I caught her. I sprinkled water from the glass over her. She recovered. But the old woman said: `Come with that jam because my mouth is watering after it.

We gave her jam making the sign of the cross.

`But don`t you have some meat cause I`m dying of hunger after four days of fast.`

The lady went and brought a plate with schnitzels. The old woman gulped happily.

`Father, when you gave me the Eucharist I felt like a fire in all my body like a spark moving through my veins and a great power.`

A tear fell down from my eye out of amazement. My hand was shaking on the tea spoon.

Every year the old woman calls me on my birthday inviting me to go and eat a bitter cherry jam

What a miracle of the universe is Christ the Eucharistic, what life, what light, what power, humbling Himself within us out of His endless love.

BY LOVE WE ARE SEATED IN THE HANDS OF GOD, BUT WHEN WE CHOOSE TO HATE, TO BE GRUMPY, DIFFICULT AND MISCHIEVIOUS WE ARE IN SOMEONE ELSE`S HANDS

His High Holiness Ignatie (Bishop of Huși)

«  My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.I and the Father are one.”Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him». (John 10, 27-31)

How many of us have the vivid conscience of the fact that we are in the hands of God the Father?

The Gospel tells us that if we are in the hands of God the Father, no one could harm us and we could not lose our faith or quality of sons of God. Unfortunately, maybe we don`t know what means to be in the hands of God, to have the certainty that no one cantake us away from there.

Staying in the hands of God means according to the Gospel to become witnesses of the crucified Love of Christ.

He tells us Himself in the Gospel that the proof of being His disciples is to love each other. Only in this way we can be in the hands of God the Father.

Christ when He was on the cross, when He sacrificed Himself out of His absolute love for us, gave His soul in the hands of God the Father. Only in this way God receives us in His hands, if we have love for each other.

Without this love, we can`t stay in the hands of God. And if we are not in the hands of God, we can be kidnapped in amy moment. The devil can steal from us the sparkle of faith we have. We become disconcerted and we give up easily. We revolt against God, we don`t understand the meaning of the trials when they come over us. In this way we estrange ourselves and lose the warmth of faith in God.

The scholars and pharisees were ready to throw with stones in Christ because He confessed that He is the Son of God.

After such an attempt to throw with stones in Him, Christ tells them: `

«If you see that I don`t do the works of God, then do not believe in Me.

But if you see that I do the works of God the Father, even if you don`t believe in Me, believe in these works. In this way you will discover Who is in these.`

Everything we do in the Church, to serve the Liturgy, say the prayers, all these are the works of God by which He makes His presence felt in our life.

If there are moments when we don`t believe in Christ, at least let us believe in these works of God the Father.

In this way we will feel the presence of the Holy Trinity in our life. Let us try as much as we can to reach the awareness that by love we are seated in the hands of God. When we don`t love, when we choose to hate, to be grumpy, difficult and mischievous we are not in the hands of God anymore. Then we are in someone else`s hands.

Source: http://episcopiahusilor.ro

The heat of fire

During confession a young man asked his spiritual father:

`Father, I feel my soul is burdened by sins. How can I be again in peace, when I know I wronged?

`Son, the man must never lose his hope. Even if we sinned, God will forgive our mistakes but with a condition: to repent. To repent sincerely from the bottom of our soul. I`ll  give you an example. Outside is a freezing winter, the frost is terrible. Go and bring me  an icicle.

When the young man came back keeping the icicle in his hand, the priest took it and threw it into the stove, where the icicle started to melt immediately.

Did you see the ice you brought from outside? It was like that from the beginning of winter and  it would have remained the same no matter how long it had stayed in the frost. But if you brought it inside you see how it started to melt? It became again a pure and useful water. When it was frozen it was good of nothing.

It is the same with the soul when it freezes from so many sins. But if you repent sincerely, the warmth of your prayer and the grace of God melt everything is bad and bring you life and peace in your soul.

Look at the trees from outside, the priest said again. They are frozen from frost but in spring the sun will warm them and they will get back to life again.

In the same way you should have patience and trust in the kindness and mercy of God and repent from the bottom of your soul because as the warmth of the fire melts the ice, the sincere repentance heals the soul which is sick because of sins.

`The confession of the evil deeds is the beginning of the good deeds.`

 (Blessed Augustin)

Excerpt from The most beautiful Orthodox parables and stories  – author Leon Magdan, Aramis  Publishing– Romanian Patriarchy, 1998.

In the Kingdom of God we shall enter only with great pain and toil

How many times the man, when he wants to begin a work for the love of God, does not wonder saying: `Will I find rest in this work? How will I be able to walk on this path of virtue without toiling? Is it there anything which not to cause exhaustion to my body?

Look how we seek to do everything without effort. But what are you saying, man?

You want to ascend to heaven and enter the Kingdom of God and rejoice of His Glory and delight of the rest of that world and of the living among the angels and gain life without death and you are asking if this path who leads to God has difficulties?

Look at the sailors who run after the things of this deceiving and vain world how they float standing against the frightening waves of the sea. Look again at those from the shore how they dare to cross with the price of their own lives difficult ways and rocky paths and they never say that their way has difficulties and labors.

But what we do is the opposite, wherever we would be we only seek rest and comfort. But if we meditated in any situation at the Sufferings of the Lord, then we will understand that no toil or difficulty is greater than that.

Is it there someone who is not sure of this? Is it there someone who

– Won in a war

– or received on his head the imperishable wreath of victory or succeeded in what he wanted even if it was not something worthy of praise

– or became a servant

– or succeeded in gaining a virtue worthy of wonder if before that he did not ignore toil and trouble and did not remove from his soul the tempting desire for rest, which generates recklessness, laziness and fear? Don`t they all weaken the man making him useless for any spiritual work?

Excerpt from the book About temptations, sorrows, pains and patience– Saint Isaac the Syrian the God inspired man, Evanghelismos Publishing , 2012

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