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Monday, October 31, 2016

Holy Apostle St. JamesTthe Less

St. James The Less.

The Identity of James.

            The name “James” in the New Testament is borne by several:
            James, the son of Zebedee — Apostle, brother of John, Apostle; also called “James the Greater.”
            James, the son of Alpheus, Apostle — Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13.
            James, the brother of the Lord — Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3; Galatians 1:19. Without a shadow of doubt, he must be identified with the James of Galatians 2:2 and 2:9; Acts 12:17, 15:13 sqq. and 21:18; and I Corinthians 15:7.
            James, the son of Mary, brother of Joseph (or Joses) — Mark 15:40 (where he is called ò mikros “the little,” not the “less,” as in the D.V. nor the “lesser”); Matthew 27:56. Probably the son of Cleophas or Clopas (John 19:25) where “Maria Cleophæ” is generally translated “Mary the wife of Cleophas,” as married women are commonly distinguished by the addition of their husband's name.
            James, the brother of Jude — Jude 1:1. Most Catholic commentators identify Jude with the “Judas Jacobi,” the “brother of James” (Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13), called thus because his brother James was beter known than himself in the primitive Church.
            The identity of the Apostle James (2), the son of Alpheus and James (3), the brother of the Lord and Bishop of the Church of Jerusalem (Acts 15, 21), although contested by many critics and, perhaps, not quite beyond doubt, is at least most highly probable, and by far the greater number of Catholic interpreters is considered as certain. The objection moved by Mader (Biblische Zeitschrift, 1908, p. 393 sqq.) against the common statement that “Apostles” in Galatians 1:19 is to be taken strictly in the sense of the “Twelve” has been strongly impugned by Steinmann (Der Katholik, 1909, p. 207 sqq.). The James (5) of Jude 1:1 must certainly be identified with James (3), the brother of the Lord and the Bishop of Jerusalem. The identification of James (3), the brother of the Lord and James (4), the son of Mary, and probably of Cleophas or Clopas offers some difficulty. This identification requires the identity of Mary, the mother of James (Matthew 27:56; Mark 15:40), with Mary the wife of Cleophas (John 19:25), and, consequently, the identity of Alpheus (2) and Clopas (4). As Clopas and Alpheus are probably not two different transcriptions of the same Aramaic name Halpa1:it must be admitted that two different names have been borne by one man. Indeed, there are several examples of the use of two names (a Hebrew and a Greek or Latin name) to designate the same person (Simon-Petrus; Saulus-Paulus), so that the identity of Alpheus and Cleophas is by no means improbable.
            On the whole, although there is no full evidence for the identity of James (2), the son of Alpheus, and James (3), the brother of the Lord, and James (4), the son of Mary of Clopas, the view that one and the same person is described in the New Testament in these three different ways, is by far the most probable. There is, at any rate, very good ground (Galatians 1:19, 2:9, 2:12) for believing that the Apostle James, the son of Alpheus is the same person as James, the brother of the Lord, the well-known Bishop of Jerusalem of the Acts. As to the nature of the relationship which the name “brother of the Lord” is intended to express.

James in the Scriptures.

            Had we not identified James, the son of Alpheus with the brother of the Lord, we should only know his name and his Apostleship. But the identity once admitted, we must consequently apply to him all the particulars supplied by the books of the New Testament. We may venture to assert that the training of James (and his brother Jude), had been that which prevailed in all pious Jewish homes and that it was therefore based on the knowledge of the Holy Scripture and the rigorous observance of the Law. Many facts point to the diffusion of the Greek language and culture throughout Judea and Galilee, as early as the first century B.C.; we may suppose that the Apostles, at least most of them, read and spoke Greek as well as Aramaic, from their childhood. James was called to the Apostolate with his brother Jude; in all the four lists of the Apostles, he stands at the head of the third group (Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13). Of James individually we hear no more until after the Resurrection. St. Paul (I Corinthians 15:5-7) mentions that the Lord appeared to him before the Ascension.
            Then we lose sight of James till St. Paul, three years after his conversion (A.D. 37), went up to Jerusalem. Of the Twelve Apostles he saw only Peter and James the brother of the Lord (Galatians 1:19; Acts 9:27). When in the year 44 Peter escaped from prison, he desired that news of his release might be carried to James who held already a marked preeminence in the Church of Jerusalem (Acts 12:17). In the Council of Jerusalem (A.D. 51) he gives his sentence after St. Peter, declaring as Peter had done, that the Gentile Christians are not bound to circumcision, nor to the observance of the ceremonial Mosaic Law, but at the same time, he urged the advisability of conforming to certain ceremonies and of respecting certain of the scruples of their Jewish fellow-Christians (Acts 15:13 sqq.). On the same occasion, the “pillars” of the Church, James, Peter, and John “gave to me (Paul) and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the Gentiles, and they unto the circumcision” (Galatians 2:9). He publicly commended the great charter of Gentile freedom from the Law, although he still continued the observance in his own life, no longer as a strict duty, but as an ancient, most venerable and national custom, trusting to “be saved by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 15:11). When afterwards some came from James to Antioch and led Peter into dissimulation (Galatians 2:12), his name was used by them, though he had given them no such commandment to enforce their interpretation of the concordat which, on his proposal, had been adopted at the Council of Jerusalem. When St. Paul after his third missionary journey paid a visit to St. James (A.D. 58), the Bishop of Jerusalem and “the elders” “glorified the Lord” and advised the Apostle to take part in the ceremonies of a Nazarite vow, in order to show how false the charge was that he had spoken of the Law as no longer to be regarded. Paul consented to the advice of James and the elders (Acts 21:1 sqq.). The Epistle of St. James reveals a grave, meek, and calm mind, nourished with the Scriptures of the Old Testament, given to prayer, devoted to the poor, resigned in persecution, the type of a just and apostolic man.

James outside of the Scriptures

            Traditions respecting James the Less are to be found in many extra-canonical documents, especially Josephus (Antiq. XX, 9:1), the “Gospel according to the Hebrews” (St. Jerome, De vir. ill. II), Hegesippus (Eusebius, “Hist. eccl.” 2:23), the pseudo-Clementine Homilies (Ep. of Peter) and Recognitions (1:72-73), Clement of Alexandria (Hypot. 6:quoted by Eusebius, “Hist. eccl.” 2:1). The universal testimony of Christian antiquity is entirely in accordance with the information derived from the canonical books as to the fact that James was Bishop of the Church of Jerusalem. Hegesippus, a Jewish Christian, who lived about the middle of the second century, relates (and his narrative is highly probable) that James was called the “Just,” that he drank no wine nor strong drink, nor ate animal food, that no razor touched his head, that he did not anoint himself or make use of the bath, and lastly that he was put to death by the Jews. The account of his death given by Josephus is somewhat different. Later traditions deserve less attention.


Orthodox Church of Pakistan
by; Fr. Cyril Amer

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Holy Apostle St. James the Greater

St. James the Greater

(Heb. Yakob; Sept. Iakob; N.T. Greek Iakobos; a favourite name among the later Jews).
            The son of Zebedee (q.v.) and Salome (Cf. Matthew 27:56; Mark 15:40; 16:1). Zahn asserts that Salome was the daughter of a priest. James is styled “the Greater” to distinguish him from the Apostle James “the Less,” who was probably shorter of stature. We know nothing of St. James's early life. He was the brother of John, the beloved disciple, and probably the elder of the two.
            His parents seem to have been people of means as appears from the following facts.
            Zebedee was a fisherman of the Lake of Galilee, who probably lived in or near Bethsaida (John 1:44), perhaps in Capharnaum; and had some boatmen or hired men as his usual attendants (Mark 1:20).
            Salome was one of the pious women who afterwards followed Christ and “ministered unto him of their substance” (cf. Mat. 27:55, sq.; Mark 15:40; 16:1; Luke 8:2 sq.; 23:55-24:1).
            St. John was personally known to the high-priest (John 18:16); and must have had wherewithal to provide for the Mother of Jesus (John 19:27).
            It is probable, according to Acts 4:13, that John (and consequently his brother James) had not received the technical training of the rabbinical schools; in this sense they were unlearned and without any official position among the Jews. But, according to the social rank of their parents, they must have been men of ordinary education, in the common walks of Jewish life. They had frequent opportunity of coming in contact with Greek life and language, which were already widely spread along the shores of the Galilean Sea.

Relation of St. James to Jesus
            Some authors, comparing John 19:25 with Matthew 28:56 and Mark 15:40, identify, and probably rightly so, Mary the Mother of James the Less and of Joseph in Mark and Matthew with “Mary of Cleophas” in John. As the name of Mary Magdalen occurs in the three lists, they identify further Salome in Mark with “the mother of the sons of Zebedee” in Matthew; finally they identify Salome with “his mother's sister” in John. They suppose, for this last identification, that four women are designated by John 19:25; the Syriac “Peshito” gives the reading: “His mother and his mother's sister, and Mary of Cleophas and Mary Magdalen.” If this last supposition is right, Salome was a sister of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and James the Greater and John were first cousins of the Lord; this may explain the discipleship of the two brothers, Salome's request and their own claim to the first position in His kingdom, and His commendation of the Blessed Virgin to her own nephew. But it is doubtful whether the Greek admits of this construction without the addition or the omission of kai (and). Thus the relationship of St. James to Jesus remains doubtful.

His life and apostolate
            The Galilean origin of St. James in some degree explains the energy of temper and the vehemence of character which earned for him and St. John the name of Boanerges, “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17); the Galilean race was religious, hardy, industrious, brave, and the strongest defender of the Jewish nation. When John the Baptist proclaimed the kingdom of the Messias, St. John became a disciple (John 1:35); he was directed to “the Lamb of God” and afterwards brought his brother James to the Messias; the obvious meaning of John 1:41, is that St. Andrew finds his brother (St. Peter) first and that afterwards St. John (who does not name himself, according to his habitual and characteristic reserve and silence about himself) finds his brother (St. James). The call of St. James to the discipleship of the Messias is reported in a parallel or identical narration by Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:19 sq.; and Luke 5:1-11. The two sons of Zebedee, as well as Simon (Peter) and his brother Andrew with whom they were in partnership (Luke 5:10), were called by the Lord upon the Sea of Galilee, where all four with Zebedee and his hired servants were engaged in their ordinary occupation of fishing. The sons of Zebedee “forthwith left their nets and father, and followed him” (Matthew 4:22), and became “fishers of men.” St. James was afterwards with the other eleven called to the Apostleship (Mat. 10:1-4; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-16; Acts 1:13). In all four lists the names of Peter and Andrew, James and John form the first group, a prominent and chosen group (cf. Mark 13:3); especially Peter, James, and John. These three Apostles alone were admitted to be present at the miracle of the raising of Jairus's daughter (Mark 5:37; Luke 8:51), at the Transfiguration (Mark 9:1; Mat.17:1; Luke 9:28), and the Agony in Gethsemani (Mat.26:37; Mark 14:33). The fact that the name of James occurs always (except in Luke 8:51; 9:28; Acts 1:13 — Gr. Text) before that of his brother seems to imply that James was the elder of the two. It is worthy of notice that James is never mentioned in the Gospel of St. John; this author observes a humble reserve not only with regard to himself, but also about the members of his family.
            Several incidents scattered through the Synoptics suggest that James and John had that particular character indicated by the name “Boanerges,” sons of thunder, given to them by the Lord (Mark 3:17); they were burning and impetuous in their evangelical zeal and severe in temper. The two brothers showed their fiery temperament against “a certain man casting out devils” in the name of the Christ; John, answering, said: “We [James is probably meant] forbade him, because he followeth not with us” (Luke 9:49). When the Samaritans refused to receive Christ, James and John said: “Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them?” (Luke 9:54; cf. 5. 49).

His martyrdom
            On the last journey to Jerusalem, their mother Salome came to the Lord and said to Him: “Say that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left, in thy kingdom” (Mat.xx, 21). And the two brothers, still ignorant of the spiritual nature of the Messianic Kingdom, joined with their mother in this eager ambition (Mark 10:37). And on their assertion that they are willing to drink the chalice that He drinks of, and to be baptized with the baptism of His sufferings, Jesus assured them that they will share His sufferings (Mark 5:38-39).
            James won the crown of martyrdom fourteen years after this prophecy, A.D. 44. Herod Agrippa 1:son of Aristobulus and grandson of Herod the Great, reigned at that time as “king” over a wider dominion than that of his grandfather. His great object was to please the Jews in every way, and he showed great regard for the Mosaic Law and Jewish customs. In pursuance of this policy, on the occasion of the Passover of A.D. 44, he perpetrated cruelties upon the Church, whose rapid growth incensed the Jews. The zealous temper of James and his leading part in the Jewish Christian communities probably led Agrippa to choose him as the first victim. “He killed James, the brother of John, with the sword” (Acts 12:1-2). According to a tradition, which, as we learn from Eusebius (Hist. Eccl. 2:9:2, 3), was received from Clement of Alexandria (in the seventh book of his lost “Hypotyposes”), the accuser who led the Apostle to judgment, moved by his confession, became himself a Christian, and they were beheaded together. As Clement testifies expressly that the account was given him “by those who were before him,” this tradition has a better foundation than many other traditions and legends respecting the Apostolic labours and death of St. James, which are related in the Latin “Passio Jacobi Majoris,” the Ethiopic “Acts of James,” and so on.

St. James in Spain
            The tradition asserting that James the Greater preached the Gospel in Spain, and that his body was translated to Compostela, claims more serious consideration.
            According to this tradition St. James the Greater, having preached Christianity in Spain, returned to Judea and was put to death by order of Herod; his body was miraculously translated to Iria Flavia in the northwest of Spain, and later to Compostela, which town, especially during the Middle Ages, became one of the most famous places of pilgrimage in the world. The vow of making a pilgrimage to Compostela to honour the sepulchre of St. James is still reserved to the pope, who alone of his own or ordinary right can dispense from it. In the twelfth century was founded the Order of Knights of St. James of Compostela.
            With regard to the preaching of the Gospel in Spain by St. James the greater, several difficulties have been raised:
            St. James suffered martyrdom A.D. 44 (Acts 12:2), and, according to the tradition of the early Church, he had not yet left Jerusalem at this time (cf. Clement of Alexandria, “Strom.” 6:Apollonius, quoted by Euseb. “Hist. Eccl.” 6:xviii).
            St. Paul in his Epistle to the Romans (A.D. 58) expressed the intention to visit Spain (Romans 15:24) just after he had mentioned (15:20) that he did not “build upon another man's foundation.”
            The argument ex silentio: although the tradition that James founded an Apostolic see in Spain was current in the year 700, no certain mention of such tradition is to be found in the genuine writings of early writers nor in the early councils; the first certain mention we find in the ninth century, in Notker, a monk of St. Gall (Martyrol. 25 July), Walafried Strabo (Poema de XII Apost.), and others.
            The tradition was not unanimously admitted afterwards, while numerous scholars reject it. The Bollandists however defended it (see Acta Sanctorum, July, VI and 7:where other sources are given).

            The authenticity of the sacred relic of Compostela has been questioned and is still doubted. Even if St. James the Greater did not preach the Christian religion in Spain, his body may have been brought to Compostela, and this was already the opinion of Notker. According to another tradition, the relics of the Apostle are kept in the church of St-Saturnin at Toulouse (France), but it is not improbable that such sacred relics should have been divided between two churches. A strong argument in favour of the authenticity of the sacred relics of Compostela is the Bull of Leo X3:“Omnipotens Deus,” of 1 November, 1884.

Orthodox Mission Pakistan
By: Fr. Cyril Amer

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Holy Apostle St. Barnabas.

St. Barnabas.

Barnabas (originally Joseph), styled an Apostle in Holy Scripture, and, like St. Paul, ranked by the Church with the Twelve, though not one of them; b. of Jewish parents in the Island of Cyprus about the beginning of the Christian Era. A Levite, he naturally spent much time in Jerusalem, probably even before the Crucifixion of Our Lord, and appears also to have settled there (where his relatives, the family of Mark the Evangelist, likewise had their homes, Acts 12:12) and to have owned land in its vicinity (4:36-37). A rather late tradition recorded by Clement of Alexandria (Strom. II, 20, P.G. VIII, col. 1060) and Eusebius (H. E. II, 1:P. G. XX, col. 117) says that he was one of the seventy Disciples; but Acts (4:36-37) favours the opinion that he was converted to Christianity shortly after Pentecost (about A.D. 29 or 30) and immediately sold his property and devoted the proceeds to the Church. The Apostles, probably because of his success as a preacher, for he is later placed first among the prophets and doctors of Antioch (13:1), surnamed him Barnabas, a name then interpreted as meaning “son of exhortation” or “consolation.” (The real etymology, however, is disputed. See Encyl. Bibli. I, col. 484.) Though nothing is recorded of Barnabas for some years, he evidently acquired during this period a high position in the Church.
            When Saul the persecutor, later Paul the Apostle, made his first visit (dated variously from A.D. 33 to 38) to Jerusalem after his conversion, the Church there, remembering his former fierce spirit, was slow to believe in the reality of his conversion. Barnabas stood sponsor for him and had him received by the Apostles, as the Acts relate (9:27), though he saw only Peter and James, the brother of the Lord, according to Paul himself (Gal. 1:18, 19). Saul went to his house at Tarsus to live in obscurity for some years, while Barnabas appears to have remained at Jerusalem. The event that brought them together again and opened to both the door to their lifework was an indirect result of Saul's own persecution. In the dispersion that followed Stephen's death, some Disciples from Cyprus and Cyrene, obscure men, inaugurated the real mission of the Christian Church by preaching to the Gentiles. They met with great success among the Greeks at Antioch in Syria, reports of which coming o the ears of the Apostles, Barnabas was sent thither by them to investigate the work of his countrymen. He saw in the conversions effected the fruit of God's grace and, though a Jew, heartily welcomed these first Gentile converts. His mind was opened at once to the possibility of this immense field. It is a proof how deeply impressed Barnabas had been by Paul that he thought of him immediately for this work, set out without delay for distant Tarsus, and persuaded Paul to go to Antioch and begin the work of preaching. This incident, shedding light on the character of each, shows it was no mere accident that led them to the Gentile field. Together they laboured at Antioch for a whole year and “taught a great multitude.” Then, on the coming of famine, by which Jerusalem was much afflicted, the offerings of the Disciples at Antioch were carried (about A.D. 45) to the mother-church by Barnabas and Saul (Acts xi). Their mission ended, they returned to Antioch, bringing with them the cousin, or nephew of Barnabas (Col. 4:10), John Mark, the future Evangelist (Acts 12:25).
            The time was now ripe, it was believed, for more systematic labours, and the Church of Antioch felt inspired by the Holy Ghost to send out missionaries to the Gentile world and to designate for the work Barnabas and Paul. They accordingly departed, after the imposition of hands, with John Mark as helper. Cyprus, the native land of Barnabas, was first evangelized, and then they crossed over to Asia Minor. Here, at Perge in Pamphylia, the first stopping place, John Mark left them, for what reason his friend St. Luke does not state, though Paul looked on the act as desertion. The two Apostles, however, pushing into the interior of a rather wild country, preached at Antioch of Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, at Derbe, and other cities. At every step they met with opposition and even violent persecution from the Jews, who also incited the Gentiles against them. The most striking incident of the journey was at Lystra, where the superstitious populace took Paul, who had just cured a lame man, for Hermes (Mercury) “because he was the chief speaker,” and Barnabas for Jupiter, and were about to sacrifice a bull to them when prevented by the Apostles. Mob-like, they were soon persuaded by the Jews to turn and attack the Apostles and wounded St. Paul almost fatally. Despite opposition and persecution, Paul and Barnabas made many converts on this journey and returned by the same route to Perge, organizing churches, ordaining presbyters and placing them over the faithful, so that they felt, on again reaching Antioch in Syria, that God had “opened a door of faith to the Gentiles” (Acts 13:13-14:27).
            Barnabas and Paul had been “for no small time” at Antioch, when they were threatened with the undoing of their work and the stopping of its further progress. Preachers came from Jerusalem with the gospel that circumcision was necessary for salvation, even for the Gentiles. The Apostles of the Gentiles, perceiving at once that this doctrine would be fatal to their work, went up to Jerusalem to combat it; the older Apostles received them kindly and at what is called the Council of Jerusalem (dated variously from A.D. 47 to 51) granted a decision in their favour as well as a hearty commendation of their work (Acts 14:27-15:30). On their return to Antioch, they resumed their preaching for a short time. St. Peter came down and associated freely there with the Gentiles, eating with them. This displeased some disciples of James; in their opinion, Peter's act was unlawful, as against the Mosaic law. Upon their remonstrances, Peter yielded apparently through fear of displeasing them, and refused to eat any longer with the Gentiles. Barnabas followed his example. Paul considered that they “walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel” and upbraided them before the whole church (Gal. 2:11-15). Paul seems to have carried his point. Shortly afterwards, he and Barnabas decided to revisit their missions. Barnabas wished to take John Mark along once more, but on account of the previous defection Paul objected. A sharp contention ensuing, the Apostles agreed to separate. Paul was probably somewhat influenced by the attitude recently taken by Barnabas, which might prove a prejudice to their work. Barnabas sailed with John Mark to Cypress, while Paul took Silas an revisited the churches of Asia Minor. It is believed by some that the church of Antioch, by its God-speed to Paul, showed its approval of his attitude; this inference, however, is not certain (Acts 15:35-41).

            Little is known of the subsequent career of Barnabas. He was still living and labouring as an Apostle in 56 or 57, when Paul wrote I Cor. (9:5-6). from which we learn that he, too, like Paul, earned his own living, though on an equality with other Apostles. The reference indicates also that the friendship between the two was unimpaired. When Paul was a prisoner in Rome (61-63), John Mark was attached to him as a disciple, which is regarded as an indication that Barnabas was no longer living (Col. 4:10). This seems probable. Various traditions represent him as the first Bishop of Milan, as preaching at Alexandria and at Rome, whose fourth (?) bishop, St. Clement, he is said to have converted, and as having suffered martyrdom in Cyprus. The traditions are all late and untrustworthy. With the exception of St. Paul and certain of the Twelve, Barnabas appears to have been the most esteemed man of the first Christian generation. St. Luke, breaking his habit of reserve, speaks of him with affection, “for he was a good man, full of the Holy Ghost and of Faith.” His title to glory comes not only from his kindliness of heart, his personal sanctity, and his missionary labours, but also from his readiness to lay aside his Jewish prejudices, in this anticipating certain of the Twelve; from his large-hearted welcome of the Gentiles, and from his early perception of Paul's worth, to which the Christian Church is indebted, in large part at least, for its great Apostle. His tenderness towards John Mark seems to have had its reward in the valuable services later rendered by him to the Church. The feast of St. Barnabas is celebrated on 11 June. He is credited by Tertullian (probably falsely) with the authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the so-called Epistle of Barnabas is ascribed to him by many Fathers.

Orthodox Church Pakistan
By: Fr. Cyril Amer

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Holy Apostle St. Andrew

St. Andrew

The name “Andrew” (Gr. andreia, manhood, or valour), like other Greek names, appears to have been common among the Jews from the second or third century B.C. St. Andrew, the Apostle, son of Jonah, or John (Mat.16:17; John 1:42), was born in Bethsaida of Galilee (John 1:44). He was brother of Simon Peter (Mat.10:2; John 1:40). Both were fishermen (Mat.4:18; Mark 1:16), and at the beginning of Our Lord's public life occupied the same house at Capharnaum (Mark 1:21, 29). From the fourth Gospel we learn that Andrew was a disciple of the Baptist, whose testimony first led him and John the Evangelist to follow Jesus (John 1:35-40). Andrew at once recognized Jesus as the Messias, and hastened to introduce Him to his brother, Peter (John 1:41). Thenceforth the two brothers were disciples of Christ. On a subsequent occasion, prior to the final call to the apostolate, they were called to a closer companionship, and then they left all things to follow Jesus (Luke 5:11; Matt. 4:19-20; Mark 1:17-18). Finally Andrew was chosen to be one of the Twelve; and in the various lists of Apostles given in the New Testament (Matt. 10:2-4); Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14-16; Acts 1:13) he is always numbered among the first four. The only other explicit reference to him in the Synoptists occurs in Mark 13:3, where we are told he joined with Peter, James and John in putting the question that led to Our Lord's great eschatological discourse. In addition to this scanty information, we learn from the fourth Gospel that on the occasion of the miraculous feeding of the five thousand, it was Andrew who said: “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fishes: but what are these among so many?” (John 6:8-9); and when, a few days before Our Lord's death, certain Greeks asked Philips that they might see Jesus, Philip referred the matter to Andrew as to one of greater authority, and then both told Christ (John 12:20-22). Like the majority of the Twelve, Andrew is not named in the Acts except in the list of the Apostles, where the order of the first four is Peter, John, James, Andrew; nor have the Epistles or the Apocalypse any mention of him.
            From what we know of the Apostles generally, we can, of course, supplement somewhat these few details. As one of the Twelve, Andrew was admitted to the closest familiarity with Our Lord during His public life; he was present at the Last Supper; beheld the risen Lord; witnessed the Ascension; shared in the graces and gifts of the first Pentecost, and helped, amid threats and persecution, to establish the Faith in Palestine.
            When the Apostles went forth to preach to the Nations, Andrew seems to have taken an important part, but unfortunately we have no certainty as to the extent or place of his labours. Eusebius (H.E. III:1), relying, apparently, upon Origen, assigns Scythia as his mission field: Andras de [eilechen] ten Skythian; while St. Gregory of Nazianzus (Or. 33) mentions Epirus; St. Jerome (Ep. ad Marcell.) Achaia; and Theodoret (on Ps. cxvi) Hellas. Probably these various accounts are correct, for Nicephorus (H.E. II:39), relying upon early writers, states that Andrew preached in Cappadocia, Galatia, and Bithynia, then in the land of the anthropophagi and the Scythian deserts, afterwards in Byzantium itself, where he appointed St. Stachys as its first bishop, and finally in Thrace, Macedonia, Thessaly, and Achaia. It is generally agreed that he was crucified by order of the Roman Governor, Aegeas or Aegeates, at Patrae in Achaia, and that he was bound, not nailed, to the cross, in order to prolong his sufferings. The cross on which he suffered is commonly held to have been the decussate cross, now known as St. Andrew's, though the evidence for this view seems to be no older than the fourteenth century. His martyrdom took place during the reign of Nero, on 30 November, A.D. 60); and both the Latin and Greek Churches keep 30 November as his feast.

            St. Andrew's relics were translated from Patrae to Constantinople, and deposited in the church of the Apostles there, about A.D. 357. When Constantinople was taken by the French, in the beginning of the thirteenth century, Cardinal Peter of Capua brought the relics to Italy and placed them in the cathedral of Amalf1:where most of them still remain. St. Andrew is honoured as their chief patron by Russia and Scotland.

Orthodox church Pakistan
by: Fr. Cyril Amer

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Apostles of Christ

Apostles ofChrist.

Under this title it may be sufficient to supply brief and essential information. The reader will find at the end of this article various titles of other articles which contain supplementary information on subjects connected with the Apostles.

The Name.

            The word “Apostle,” from the Greek apostello “to send forth,” “to dispatch,” has etymologically a very general sense. Apostolos (Apostle) means one who is sent forth, dispatched — in other words, who is entrusted with a mission, rather, a foreign mission. It has, however, a stronger sense than the word messenger, and means as much as a delegate. In the classical writers the word is not frequent. In the Greek version of the Old Testament it occurs once, in III Kings, 14:6 (cf. ibid, 12:24). In the New Testament, on the contrary, it occurs, according to Bruder's Concordance, about eighty times, and denotes often not all the disciples of the Lord, but some of them specially called. It is obvious that our Lord, who spoke an Aramaic dialect, gave to some of his disciples an Aramaic title, the Greek equivalent of which was “Apostle.” It seems to us that there is no reasonable doubt about the Aramaic word being seliah, by which also the later Jews, and probably already the Jews before Christ, denoted “those who were despatched from the mother city by the rulers of the race on any foreign mission, especially such as were charged with collecting the tribute paid to the temple service” (Lightfoot, “Galatians,” London, 1896, p. 93). The word apostle would be an exact rendering of the root of the word seliah,= apostello.

Various Meanings.

            It is at once evident that in a Christian sense, everyone who had received a mission from God, or Christ, to man could be called “Apostle.” In fact, however, it was reserved to those of the disciples who received this title from Christ. At the same time, like other honourable titles, it was occasionally applied to those who in some way realized the fundamental idea of the name. The word also has various meanings.
            The name Apostle denotes principally one of the twelve disciples who, on a solemn occasion, were called by Christ to a special mission. In the Gospels, however, those disciples are often designated by the expressions of mathetai (the disciples) or dodeka (the Twelve) and, after the treason and death of Judas, even of hendeka (the Eleven). In the Synoptics the name Apostle occurs but seldom with this meaning; only once in Matthew and Mark. But in other books of the New Testament, chiefly in the Epistles of St. Paul and in the Acts this use of the word is current. Saul of Tarsus, being miraculously converted, and called to preach the Gospel to the heathens, claimed with much insistency this title and its rights.
            In the Epistle to the Hebrews (3:1) the name is applied even to Christ, in the original meaning of a delegate sent from God to preach revealed truth to the world.
            The word Apostle has also in the New Testament a larger meaning, and denotes some inferior disciples who, under the direction of the Apostles, preached the Gospel, or contributed to its diffusion; thus Barnabas (Acts 14:4, 14), probably Andronicus and Junias (Rom.16:7), Epaphroditus (Phil. 2:25), two unknown Christians who were delegated for the collection in Corinth (II Cor. 7:23). We know not why the honourable name of Apostle is not given to such illustrious missionaries as Timothy, Titus, and others who would equally merit it.
            There are some passages in which the extension of the word Apostle is doubtful, as Luke 11:49; John 13:16; II Cor. 13; I Thes. 2:7; Ephes. 3:5; Jude, 17, and perhaps the well-known expression “Apostles and Prophets.” Even in an ironical meaning the word occurs (II Cor. 11:5; 12:11) to denote pseudo-apostles. There is but little to add on the use of the word in the old Christian literature. The first and third meanings are the only ones which occur frequently, and even in the oldest literature the larger meaning is seldom found.

Origin of the Apostolate.

The Gospels point out how, from the beginning of his ministry, Jesus called to him some Jews, and by a very diligent instruction and formation made them his disciples. After some time, in the Galilean ministry, he selected twelve whom, as Mark (3:14) and Luke (6:13) say, “he also named Apostles.” The origin of the Apostolate Iies therefore in a special vocation, a formal appointment of the Lord to a determined office, with connected authority and duties. The appointment of the twelve Apostles is given by the three Synoptic Gospels (Mark 3:13-19; Matthew 10:1-4; Luke 6:12-16) nearly in the same words, so that the three narratives are literally dependent. Only on the immediately connected events is there some difference between them. It seems almost needless to outline and disprove rationalistic views on this topic. The holders of these views, at least some of them, contend that our Lord never appointed twelve Apostles, never thought of establishing disciples to help him in his ministry, and eventually to carry on his work. These opinions are only deductions from the rationalistic principles on the credibility of the Gospels, Christ's doctrine on the Kingdom of Heaven, and the eschatology of the Gospels. Here it may be sufficient to observe

§   that the very clear testimony of the three synoptic Gospels constitutes a strong historical argument, representing, as it does, a very old and widely spread tradition that cannot be erroneous;
§   that the universally acknowledged authority of the Apostles, even in the most heated controversies, and from the first years after Christ's death (for instance in the Jewish controversies), as we read in the oldest Epistles of St. Paul and in the Acts cannot be explained, or even be understood, unless we recognize some appointment of the Twelve by Jesus.

Office and Conditions of the Apostolate.

            Two of the synoptic Gospels add to their account of the appointment of the Twelve brief statements on their office: Mark 3:14-15, “He appointed twelve to be with him and to send them to herald, and to have power to heal the illnesses and to cast out demons”; Matthew 10:1, “He gave them power over unclean spirits so as to expel them, and to heal every disease and every illness.” Luke where he relates the appointment of the Twelve, adds nothing on their office. Afterwards (Mark 6:7-13; Matthew 10:5-15; Luke 9:1-5). Jesus sends the Twelve to preach the kingdom and to heal, and gives them very definite instructions. From all this it results that the Apostles are to be with Jesus and to aid Him by proclaiming the kingdom and by healing. However, this was not the whole extent of their office, and it is not difficult to understand that Jesus did not indicate to His Apostles the whole extent of their mission, while as yet they had such imperfect ideas of His own person and mission, and of the Messianic kingdom. The nature of the Apostolic mission is made still clearer by the sayings of Christ after His Resurrection. Here such passages as Matthew, 28:19, 20; Luke 24:46-49; Acts 1:8, 21-22 are fundamental. In the first of these texts we read, “Go ye therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all I have commanded you.” The texts of Luke point to the same office of preaching and testifying (cf. Mark 16:16). The Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles written by the Apostles exhibit them in the constant exercise of this office. Everywhere the Apostle governs the disciples, preaches the doctrines of Jesus as an authentic witness, and administers the sacred rites. In order to fill such an office, it seems necessary to have been instructed by Jesus, to have seen the risen Lord. And these are, clearly, the conditions required by the Apostles in the candidate for the place of Judas Iscariot. “Of the men, therefore, who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John unto the day He was received up from us, of these must one become a witness with us of His Resurrection” (Acts 1:21-22). This narrative, which seems to come from an Aramaic Palestinian source like many other details given in the earlier chapter of Acts was ancient and cannot be set aside. It is further strengthened by an objection made to St.Paul: because he was called in an extraordinary way to the Apostolate, he was obliged often to vindicate his Apostolic authority and proclaim that he had seen the Lord (I Cor. 9:1). Instruction and appointment by Jesus were, therefore, the regular conditions for the Apostolate. By way of exception. an extraordinary vocation, as in the case of Paul, or a choice by the Apostolic College, as in the case of Matthias, could suffice. Such an extraordinarily called or elected Apostle could preach Christ's doctrine and the Resurrection of the Lord as an authoritative witness.

Authority and Prerogatives of the Apostles.

            The authority of the Apostles proceeds from the office imposed upon them by Our Lord and is based on the very explicit sayings of Christ Himself. He will be with them all days to the end of ages (Matthew 28:20), give a sanction to their preaching (Mark 16:16), send them the “promise of the Father,” “virtue from above” (Luke 24:49). The Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles of the New Testament show us the exercise of this authority. The Apostle makes laws (Acts 15:29; I Cor. 7:12 sq.), teaches (Acts  2:37 f.), claims for his teaching that it should be received as the word of God (I Thes. 2:13), punishes (Acts 5:1-11; I Cor. 5:1-5), administers the sacred rites (Acts 6:1 sq.; 16:33; 20:11), provides successors (II Tim. 1:6; Acts 14:22). In the modern theological terms the Apostle, besides the power of order, has a general power of jurisdiction and magisterium (teaching). The former embraces the power of making laws, judging on religious matters, and enforcing obligations by means of suitable penalties. The latter includes the power of setting forth with authority Christ's doctrine. It is necessary to add here that an Apostle could receive new revealed truths in order to propose them to the Church. This, however, is something wholly personal to the Apostles.
            Theologians rightly speak in their treatises of some personal prerogatives of the Apostles; a brief account of them may not be superfluous.
            A first prerogative, not clearly inferred from the texts of the New Testament nor demonstrated by solid reasons, is their confirmation in grace. Most modern theologians admit that the Apostles received so abundant an infusion of grace that they could avoid any error in their teaching.
            Another personal prerogative is the universality of their jurisdiction. The words of the Gospel on Apostolic office are very general; for the most part, the Apostles preached and travelled as if they were not bound by territorial limits, as we read in the Acts and the Epistles. This did not hinder the Apostles from taking practical measures to properly organize the preaching of the Gospel in the various countries they visited.

Apostolate and Episcopate.

            Since the authority with which the Lord endowed the Apostles was given them for the entire Church, it is natural that this authority should endure after their death, in other words, pass to successors established by the Apostles. In the oldest Christian documents concerning the primitive Churches we find ministers established, some of them, at least, by the usual rite of the imposition of hands. They bear various names: priests (presbytero1: Acts 11:30; 14:22; 15:2, 4, 6, 22, 23; 16:4; 20, 17; 21:18; I Tim. 5:17, 19; Titus, 1:5); bishops (episkopo1:Acts 20:28; Phil. 1:1; I Tim. 3:2; Titus, 1:7); presidents (proistameno1:I Thes. 5:12; Rom. 12:etc.); heads (hegoumeno1:Hebrews, 13:7, 17, 24, etc.); shepherds (poimenes, Eph. 4:11); teachers (didaskalo1:Acts 13:1; I Cor. 12:28 sq. etc.); prophets (propheta1:Acts 13:1; 15:32; I Cor. 12:28, 29, etc.), and some others. Besides them, there are Apostolic delegates, such as Timothy and Titus. The most frequent terms are priests and bishops; they were destined to become the technical names for the “authorities” of the Christian community.
All other names are less important; the deacons are out of the question, being of an inferior order. It seems clear that amid so great a variety of terms for ecclesiastical authorities in Apostolic times several must have expressed only transitory functions. From the beginning of the second century in Asia Minor, and somewhat later elsewhere, we find only three titles: bishops, priests, and deacons; the last changed with inferior duties. The authority of the bishop is different from the authority of priests, as is evident on every page of the letters of the martyr Ignatius of Antioch. The bishop — and there is but one in each town — governs his church, appoints priests who have a subordinate rank to him, and are, as it were, his counsellors, presides over the Eucharistic assemblies, teaches his people, etc. He has, therefore, a general power of governing and teaching, quite the same as the modern Catholic bishop; this power is substantially identical with the general authority of the Apostles, without, however, the personal prerogatives ascribed to the latter. St. Ignatius of Antioch declares that this ministry holds legitimately its authority from God through Christ (Letter to the Philadelphians, i). Clement of Rome, in his Letter; to the Church of Corinth (about 96), defends with energy the legitimacy of the ministry of bishops and, priests, and proclaims that the Apostles established successors to govern the churches (xlii-xliv). We may conclude with confidence that, about the end of the second century, the ministers of the churches were everywhere regarded as legitimate successors of the Apostles; this common persuasion is of primary importance.
            Another and more difficult question arises as to the Acts and in the Epistles, the various above mentioned names, chiefly the presbyteroi and the episkopoi (priests and bishops).
            Some authors (and this is the traditional view) contend that the episkopoi of Apostolic times have the same dignity as the bishops of later times, and that the episkopoi of the apostolic writings are the same as the priests of the second century. This opinion, however, must give way before the evident identity of bishop and priest in Acts 20:17 and 28, Titus, 1:5-7, Clement of Rome to the Church of Corinth, xliv.
            Another view recognizing this synonymous character estimates that these officers whom we shall call bishops — priests had never the supreme direction of the churches in Apostolic times; this power, it is maintained, was exercised by the Apostles, the Prophets who travelled from one church to another, and by certain Apostolic delegates like Timothy. These alone were the real predecessors of the bishops of the second century; the bishop priests were the same as our modern priests.
            Mgr. Batiffol (Rev. bibl. 1895, and Etudes d'hist. et de théol. positive, 1, Paris, 1903) expresses the following opinion: In the primitive churches there were (1) some preparatory functions, as the dignity of Apostles and Prophets; (2) some presbyteroi had no liturgical function, but only an honourable title; (3) the episkopo1:several in each community, had a liturgical function with the office to preach; (4) when the Apostles disappeared, the bishopric was divided: one of the bishops became sovereign bishop, while the others were subordinated to him: these were the later priests. This secondary priesthood is a diminished participation of the one and sole primitive priesthood; there is, therefore, no strict difference of order between the bishop and the priest.
            Whatever may be the solution of this difficut question, it remains certain that in the second century the general Apostolic authority belonged, by a succession universally acknowledged as legitimate, to the bishops of the Christian churches. The bishops have, therefore, a general power of order, jurisdiction, and magisterium, but not the personal prerogatives of the Apostles.

The Feasts of the Apostles.

            The memorable words of Hebrews, 13:7: “Remember your presidents who preached to you the word of God,” have always echoed in the Christian heart. The primitive churches had a profound veneration for their deceased Apostles (Clement of Rome, Ep. ad Corinth. v); its first expression was doubtless the devotional reading of the Apostolic writings, the following of their orders and counsels, and the imitation of their virtues. It may, however, be reasonably supposed that some devotion began at the tombs of the Apostles as early as the time of their death or martyrdom; the ancient documents are silent on this matter. Feasts of the Apostles do not appear as early as we might expect. Though the anniversaries of some martyrs were celebrated even in the second century, as for instance the anniversary of the martyrdom of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna (d. 154-156), the Apostles had at this time no such commemoration; the day of their death was unknown. It is only from the fourth century that we meet with feasts of the Apostles. In the Eastern Church the feast of Saint James the Less and Saint John was celebrated on the 27th of December, and on the next day the feast of Saints Peter and Paul (according to St. Gregory of Nyssa and a Syriac menology). These commemorations were arbitrarily fixed. In the Western Church the feast of Saint John alone remained on the same day as in the Eastern Church. The commemoration of the martyrdom of Saint Peter and Saint Paul was celebrated 29 June; originally, however, it was the commemoration of the translation their relics (Duchesne, Christian Worship, p. 277). From the sixth century the feast of Saint Andrew was celebrated on the 30th day of November. We know but little of the feasts of the other Apostles and of the secondary feasts of the great Apostles. In the Eastern Churches all these feasts were observed at the beginning of the ninth century.


Orthodox Church Pakistan
by: Fr. Cyril Amer

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Pakistan delays Asia Bibi blasphemy appeal

Pakistan delays Asia Bibi blasphemy appeal
Supreme court adjourns final appeal in case of Asia Bibi, on death row since 2010, after a judge recuse from bench.

     Asia Bibi, who has been on death row since 2010, has five children 

Pakistan's Supreme courtroom has delayed an attraction into the nation's most notorious blasphemy case against a Christian mother on demise row considering that 2010, after one of the vital judges stepped down.
Countless numbers of safety troops had been deployed within the capital, Islamabad, because the court docket prepared to listen to a final enchantment in the case of Asia Bibi on Thursday.
The courtroom did not instantly set a brand new date for the appeal.
But the hazard of violence was mostly abated when one of the three-choose bench, Justice Iqbal Hameed ur Rehman, instructed the courtroom he needed to recuse himself from the case.
"I was once a part of the bench that used to be listening to the case of Salmaan Taseer, and this case is involving that," he informed the court.

Taseer, a liberal provincial governor, used to be shot dead in Islamabad in 2011 after talking out for Bibi. His assassin, Mumtaz Qadri, used to be hanged prior in 2016 in a step welcomed by using liberals in the nation, however which introduced hardliners into the streets calling for Bibi's demise.
A senior police respectable said that as much as three,000 forces have been deployed in the capital on Thursday."security may be very tight in Islamabad throughout at present. Extra troops had been deployed on checkpoints and city junctions quite often. There may be additionally deployment of paramilitary drive Rangers and FC [Frontier Corps] on some further points," a police supply told AFP information agency.

By: Smantha Corney
dated: 13/09/2016
Christian Global News

Monday, October 10, 2016

Transfiguration of Christ


of Christ 

Appearance of the Kingdom of God

Everybody instinctively longs for happiness. But often one does not know what happiness is, and searches in places where there is no happiness and where it cannot be. By His Transfiguration on Mount Tabor Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated that real happiness lies in union with God. In such union the entire essence of a human changes, or transfigures: unspeakable peace, harmony and joy settle in the soul; the intellect receives enlightenment, and all abilities of a person reach their utmost extent; the soul fills with Divine light and becomes godlike. Now the Kingdom of God enters the human.
Transfiguration of Our Saviour was a revelation of the highest grace of the Kingdom of God “coming with power.” Not physical but spiritual light of Christ's Divine nature, by then hidden under the veil of His human flesh, shone on Mount Tabor. The miracle was that the scales, concealing the spiritual world, fell from the Apostles' physical eyes, and with their spiritual eyes they saw Christ in His Divine Power. Then their hearts were filled with the beatitude they had never experienced before.
Since the Holy Ghost came upon the Apostles and until today, many Christians, especially saints, have joined the Miracle of Tabor, being honored with seeing the gleams of the Divine Light. Those were always unforgettable and most happy moments of their lives. However, the Divine light is not the realm of the few chosen. First coming at the time of the Holy Baptism, it mysteriously resides in every Christian since then. It strengthens up in line with a Christian's improvement and approach to God, specifically after the Holy Communion.
For humans not to fall to laziness and pride, it is not given to them to feel the entire joy of communion with God, which shall be the reward in the world to come. Still the Divine light rests in zealous Christians, and at times Lord out of His Grace gives us to feel this special joy of communion with Him. Such communion is perceived as shining of a mysterious light inside a person. This shining brings forward the particular unforgettable bliss, inexplicable to those who has never experienced it. Compared to it, all worldly joys seem scanty and miserable. We believe that the eternal life will start after this temporary world, and  'Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father' (Matt 13:43).

In this brochure we will discuss the event of Transfiguration of Our Saviour, read Saint Fathers' quotations on the nature of the light of Tabor and its meaning in a life of a Christian, and then tell in brief about the Divine Service on the Feast of Transfiguration, read the English language translation of the canon of mattins, and explain the meaning of consecration of grapes and apples on the Feast of transfiguration. In the conclusion we will speak on the strengthening of spiritual light in ourselves, that is, on the internal transfiguration.

The Event of Transfiguration

The Transfiguration of Lord Jesus Christ on Mount Tabor, where His appearance changed and became light-like, is described by Evangelists Matthew, Mark and Luke. The Transfiguration took place six days after the Saviour had told about His forthcoming Sufferings on the Cross. The Crucifixion followed in about forty days after Transfiguration. The evangelist Matthew described Our Saviour's Transfiguration as follows:

“And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only. And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead. And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them” (Matt 17:1-12).

The place of Transfiguration is not named by any of the Evangelists, but the ancient tradition unanimously points at Tabor, a mountain in Galilee, six kilometers south-east of Nazareth. Jesus Christ spent His youth not far from this mountain and probably many times climbed it and prayed on its top. About one kilometer high, Mount Tabor stately rises above surrounding plains and attracts looks of wayfarers in every direction. From its top a view opens to the Sea of Galilee and the River Jordan lying in the east of it. The mountain is covered with magnificent oaks and pistachio trees from foot to middle.
The Saviour did not bring all His disciples up to the mountain, but only three of them (Peter, James and his brother John the Theologian), while the others stayed at the foot of the mountain. Going uphill was tiring, and the Apostles accompanying Christ lied down for rest and dozed off; the Saviour started praying. During the prayer, the looks of Our Saviour changed: His face shone as the sun, and His clothes became white as the light. The bright light woke up the Apostles and they saw Their Teacher in His heavenly glory of the Son of God. His Divinity shone through His flesh and clothing.
Looking at the Saviour in astonishment, the Apostles saw two unfamiliar figures who, as it turned up later, were ancient prophets Moses and Elias coming to Christ from the world invisible. The Evangelists do not explain why these two prophets came. Supposedly, the coming of the two most authoritative Old Testament righteous people was the evidence of Christ's Divinity for the Apostles and for all Jews. First of all, until that time the rumor had been widespread among common people that Jesus Christ was either Elias, or another ancient prophet risen. The appearance of Elias and Moses witnessed the absurdity of this opinion. The prophets were actually talking to Christ as Messiah and Son of God. Moreover, many of the Jews accused Christ of disregarding the Law and even blasphemously and wrongfully assuming the honor of the Son of God (John 9:16; 10:33), and the appearance of these two most ardent champions of the glory of Jehovah had to convince everyone that Christ really was the promised Messiah and that all His statements were true. It was obvious that Moses who had written the Book of the Law, would not have tolerated any infringement of this Law and would not have stood before the infringer in reverence. And Elias, who had once burnt Jehovah's enemies with fire from heaven, would not have stood humbly before the One Who said He was equal to God Father if He had not been such (Jesus said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). The reading on Elias can be found in 2 Kings 1:10).
The appearance of the ancient prophets who had gone to the better world must convince us the Christians that the life of a human does not end with the death, and that the souls of those who died are not sleeping, as some sectarians erroneously teach, but are awaken, living a full-scale spiritual life. Jesus Christ has power over life and death, as He says, “I have the keys of hell and of death (Rev. 1:18).
The conversation of Moses and Elias with Christ was to encourage the Apostles and strengthen their faith in Christ when the Suffering on the Cross was close ahead. The Apostles indeed thought about their Teacher's suffering as humiliation and dishonor, but the prophets called it “glory” that He intended to manifest in Jerusalem. And right before the Crucifixion the Saviour viewed the impending suffering and dishonorable death as the beginning of glorification of His Father and Himself as the Saviour of the mankind; He said, “Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify Thee (John 17:1).
The special graceful state of the Apostles during the Saviour's Transfiguration was expressed by Saint Peter who said, “Lord, it is good for us to be here! Delighted by the glorious vision, Peter wished that it would last, and last forever, if possible. So Peter suggested to the Saviour to make three tabernacles, or pavilions, on the top of the mountain (Jews and other oriental people made 'tabernacles' by digging a pole in the ground, stretching ropes from its top to pegs driven at a certain distance around it, and covering up with fabric; sometimes skins or leaves and bark were used instead). The Apostle Peter did not want to come back to the insidious and malicious world where his Teacher was threatened by suffering and death.
As the Evangelists say, at that moment everyone on the mountain was overshadowed by a bright cloud, which indicated the presence of God the Father (a dark cloud is symbol and sign of God the Just Judge (Ex. 24:18; 19:18), while a bright cloud is the symbol and sign of the presence of God Merciful. A similar bright cloud, called shekina in the Bible, was at times seen above the Sanctuary, the main part of the Judean temple (1 Kings 8:10-11; Ezek 1:4; 10:4), and a mysterious voice was heard from the cloud like it was during Theophany, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” and also, “Hear Him. These last words were to remind to the Apostles Moses' ancient prophesy of the Forthcoming Great Prophet Who would herald God's will to the Jews. “Whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him,” says God in Deuteronomy 18:19. So here on Tabor fifteen hundred years later God Father gave the evidence of Moses' prophesy about the Messiah as the Greatest of prophets.
Hearing the voice from the cloud, the disciples fell on the ground in fear. Everything was unusual for them here on the mountain: the seclusion and height of the place, the deep silence of nature, the appearance of the prophets of the past, the light of extreme brightness and finally the voice of God Father Himself.
When they were coming down, Jesus forbade the Apostles to tell anyone what had happened on the mountain until His rising from the dead. The Lord transfigured in order to affirm to His trusted disciples that He indeed was the Messiah. Still it was too early to tell about the Transfiguration to the Jewish public at large whose senses would anticipate the Messiah as a powerful king and conqueror. One of the eye witnesses of this event, Apostle Peter, later recalled it as unquestionably trustworthy and brought it forth as proof of Christ's divine nature (2 Peter 1:16-18).

Nature of the Light of Tabor

The Saviour's Transfiguration on Tabor was perceived by His disciples as light. It was not a flux of luminous physical particles, but something else similar to light. This light shone brighter than sun, it warmed but burned not. Its shining was accompanied with sensation of extraordinary peace and joy. It was the vision of the future bliss of heaven.
The word light in the Holy Scripture is often applied to God and things caused by God: truth, moral commandments and good deeds. In this case the word light might be understood as allegory for something kind and life-giving. Indeed, what sunlight is for the physical world, that God is for the world of spirit. Light enables us to see and cognize the world, to move, to develop, to create. Light gives warmth and life to all nature. Without the sun, our planet would turn into a lifeless, gloomy ice block.
In a like way God is the light for spiritual creatures: angels and humans. He enlightens our mind with His truth; He gives us the highest spiritual knowledge; He pours energy and inspiration into us; He warms our hearts with love; He guides our lives to the good goal. We receive all spiritual comforts from God. Moving away from God, our soul sinks in the darkness and perishes.
That is how people of spiritual life perceived their communion with God: “With thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light” (Ps. 36:9); “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Ps. 119:105). Very often the coming of the Messiah was apprehended as spiritual light: “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined” (Is. 9:2). “I am the light of the world,” said Jesus to the Jews, “he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life... Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light” (John 8:12; 12:35-36). In a similar way, St. John the Theologian says that love and good works are “walking in light” and “having light.”
In some places of the Holy Scripture the word light applies to God not allegorically but in expressions, which apparently describe His very nature, as in the following quotations. “Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment” (Ps 104:2). The Apostle James calls God “the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). The Apostle John writes, God is light, and in him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5-7). The Apostle Paul says that God is dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see” (1 Tim 6:16). The Book of Revelation reads, And the city (New Jerusalem) had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it... And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light” (Rev. 21:23-24; 22:4-5).
The nature of the light on Mount Tabor was in great detail discussed by Saint Gregory Palama (1296-1356) who had to advocate the Orthodox teaching of spiritual light against learned monks Barlaam, Akindine and their followers. It was in the epoch of Renaissance when paganism was revitalized in arts, thinking and morals. Philosophers were returning to the heathen understanding of God as transcendent out-of-the-world incomprehensible and inaccessible Absolute. Based on this non-Christian concept of God, Barlaam and Akindine insisted that on Mount Tabor Apostles could not have seen God, but had seen normal physical light.
Gregory Palama opposed that the light on Tabor was only similar to physical light but was totally different by nature. That light shone brighter than sunlight and was whiter than snow, but still it did not cause blindness; it warmed without burning. Its shining was accompanied by the sensation of great felicity. Unlike regular light, the light of Tabor was called by St. Gregory Palama 'unmade divine energy.' The substance of this light was inseparable from the eternal substance of God because God is indivisible. God is not comprehensible in His substance, but still His actions and energy, being inseparable from His divine essence, are comprehensible for us created in His image, after His likeness. And the Son of God became a man in order to associate us into His Divine nature, to deify us. We sense God's presence with our soul, not our fleshly eyes. St. Gregory Palama explains that the ability to see the Divine light is delivered to a human by the Holy Ghost who translates one from the state of flesh to the state of spirit (Homily 34 On Transfiguration). It is like a curtain falling down from the eyes of the seer at the moment of the vision, making him able to see the divine shining. Action of the spiritual light in this life touches the soul. But in the future life it will also extend to the renewed bodies of the righteous, as it is said, “Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”
The nature of the graceful light (“divine energy”) is mysterious and inexplicable as well as the substance of the Creator. However it can be distinctly tangible when the Merciful God permits a human to see the divine light. Then the human feels the heavenly bliss, and all worldly joys compared to it are null.
St. Gregory Palama also writes that on Mount Tabor Christ half-opened His divinity before the Apostles and showed God dwelling in Him, because He is Light from eternity. The skin of Moses' face once shone when God was speaking with him on Mount Sinai. But what happened to him was the effect of God's power on him and thus this shining was, so say, passive, not being caused by internal power inherent to him (i.e. Moses was only reflecting God's light). But the Lord Jesus Christ's shining was inside Himself. On Mount Tabor He manifested to the Apostles the glory of His Divinity. He shone while during prayer, and thus taught us what would be for saints the prerequisite for receiving and the manner of seeing God's light (Discussions from Homilies 34 and 35).
Many righteous people were honored with seeing the light like that on Mount Tabor. In the Holy Scripture and writings of the Holy Fathers the graceful light is described mostly as an internal condition received through prayer, contemplation about God, and particularly Holy Communion. Experienced internally, it is at the same time as real as the visible physical light. External shining of this light is a rarer phenomenon. However, writings of saints contain descriptions of external manifestations of this immaterial Divine light when the zealot's very body and clothes become shining. Visible light was many times described in the Lives of Saints of 4th-6th centuries, Lavsaik and Spiritual Meadow. Here we will cite several cases described by eye witnesses. “Abba Pamvo's face was shining as lightning and he was as king sitting on his throne.” Before death of Abba Sisoi, monks came to say good-bye to him and suddenly saw his face shining as the sun. Someone met Abba Siluan and prostrated himself because Abba's face and body were bright as an angel. A brother came to Abba Arsenius' cell in a secluded monastery, looked through the doorway and saw that the elder was all like fiery. Wonderful light that shone in Sergius of Radonezh attracted everyone who had seen him even once. At the time of singing prayer 'Here we sing to Thee' all the present saw fire, “as if it fell from heaven and moved over the Altar Table, shining all around the altar,” and surrounded Sergius while he was doing the rite. During Eucharist, divine fire entered the chalice and reverend Sergius received it in Communion. St. Seraphim's admirer Motovilov saw him in heavenly light and said, “I cannot look at you, father, because lightning is pouring from your eyes. Your face has become brighter than sun and my eyes ache.”
Visitors of Elder Ambrosius in Optina also sometimes saw him shining. Bishop Theophan the Anchorite and St. Righteous Father John of Kronschtadt were seen with their faces shining. Father John stood before God like before the sun; feeling the inexpressible brilliance of divine light, he closed his eyes and clearly experienced sojourning in the beams of this light, sensed their warmth, joy, and proximity to Christ the Saviour. Out of God's grace, his face had splendor like angel's face, and people wanted to look at him (Note: Attention must be paid to stories of people who had died and then returned to life; after their death they arrived in a world of light and there experienced remarkable peace and joy. Many descriptions of this were collected by Raymond A. Moody, Jr., MD, in his book “Life after Life.” Also see Iskul's brochure “Event Incredible for Many, but Still True.” It might be that God permitted them to see His shining light in order that they stir up faith in the modern rationalistic society.).
The sensation of felicity from divine light can be so powerful that humans feel sad and abandoned after it had ended. St. Gregory the Theologian describes this state as follows, “I wish to stay all by myself and setting aside flesh and the world, not touching anything corporal without extreme need, talking to myself and God, live above all things visible, and always carry in myself clear divine images unmixed with earthly delusive impressions, be and permanently become an unshadowed mirror of God and divinity, acquire light to light, adding the brightest to the paler; and all this until we rise to the Source of illuminations and reach the blessed end. Beloved God pierces the mind with a beam of light and immediately escapes from fast-moving thought. The more we know Him, the greater grows the distance, because He slips from hands, calls and entails the soul.”
St Simeon the New Theologian (949-1022) often received divine illuminations. After one of them he felt that “all feelings of my soul and mind were stuck to the only one inexplicable joy and gladness that had arose out of that solemn light. But when the unmeasurable light that had been shown to me slowly lessened and finally became absolutely invisible, then I came to sense and recognized the marvelous things, which the power of that light performed in me. This light brings joy when it is seen, and leaves sores and aches in heart after it vanishes” (Word 86).
Divine light is mysteriously given to every truly believing Orthodox Christian. However, the Holy Fathers warn against attempting to artificially invoke and see the spiritual shining because such attempts conceal the tremendous danger of falling to the devil's enchantment. A Christian must go the narrow way of repentance, meekness and self-correction. This life is the time of labor; the future life shall be the time of reward.

Orthodox Church Pakistan
by: Fr. Cyril Amer