My beloved brothers and sisters in Our Risen Lord, God, and SaviorJesus Christ.
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN!
ON THIS DAY, THE WEDNESDAY OF THE PARALYTIC,
OUR HOLY ORTHODOX CHURCH COMMEMORATES
THE FEAST OF MID-PENTECOST.
Standing and teaching in the midst of the feast, Christ the Messiah is
in the midst of the teachers.
This feast of Mid-Pentecost is celebrated by us in honor of the two great feasts of Pascha and Pentecost. This is the midpoint between that period of time after Christ’s death, burial, and Resurrection–when He promised the coming of the Comforter (Holy Spirit)–and that time when the Divine Spirit would be poured forth abundantly. But since we just commemorated Jesus’ miracle for the paralytic, we also need to understand the set of circumstances of today’s Mid-Feast and the commemoration that was called the middle of the feast in the time of our Lord.
Wednesday of Mid-Pentecost [John 7:14-30]
"Now it already being the middle of the feast, Jesus went up into the
temple and began to teach" [John 7:14]. "And the Jews were wondering,
saying, ‘How knoweth this One letters since He hath not learned" [John 7:15].
Saint Kyril of Alexandria states: "They uttered, ‘Where is that man?’ More severe punishment then shall they undergo who were not ignorant than they who were: for to the one their ignorance is an excuse, to the other their knowledge condemnation. Therefore, is it said that to some it is better not to have known the way of truth. For in knowledge there is greater punishment because men are lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. Jesus then, according to the rising doubts of the Jews, knew letters, having not learned, whereas Moses was learned (as it is written) in all the wisdom of Egyptians, and yet as knowing nothing at all, albeit exceeding wise among those, was he instructed unto better knowledge by the oracles from God. The wisdom of the world was convinced as feeble, through the more divine and excellent wisdom, in which or through which we are instructed in the things of Christ, receiving the understanding which is truly from above and from God. Christ… both Wisdom and Understanding, has the excellency not by teaching for it is innate. And verily the Prophet Isaiah says to Him, that ‘before the Child shall know good or evil. He refuseth evil, to choose good’ [Isaiah 7:16]. And let us not foolishly suppose that the Divine and Heavenly Offspring, in discernment of reasoning or by the choice of the better, turns away from evil and applies Itself rather to good: but as if one should say of fire, that it refuses cold; its not admitting the being cold does not indicate choice of wills in it, but rather most steady adherence of nature to what is its own, so is it in respect of Christ."
Saint John Chrysostom says, "Dost thou observe how the Evangelist shows here their marveling to be full of wickedness? For John does not say that they admired Jesus’ teaching, or that they received the words, but simply that they ‘marveled’; that is, they were thrown into a state of astonishment, and doubted, saying, ‘When hath this man these things?’ Indeed, they ought from this very difficulty to have known that there was nothing merely human in Him. But because they would not confess that this, but stopped at wondering only, hear what He saith: ‘My doctrine is not Mine."
"Jesus answered them and said, ‘My teaching is not Mine, but of the One who sent Me" (John 7:16).
Saint John Chrysostom notes: "Again He answers to their secret thoughts, referring them to the Father, and so desiring to stop their mouths."
About the MIDDLE OF THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES, He went up again to the Temple and taught. The Jews, marveling at the wisdom of His words, said, "How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?" But Christ first reproached their unbelief and lawlessness, then proved to them by the Law that they sought to slay Him unjustly, supposedly as a despiser of the Law, since He had healed the paralytic on the Sabbath.
Therefore, since the things spoken by Christ in the middle of the Feast of Tabernacles are related to the Sunday of the Paralytic that is just passed, and since we have already reached the MIDPOINT OF THE FIFTY DAYS BETWEEN PASCHA AND PENTECOST, the Church has appointed this present feast AS A BOND BETWEEN THE TWO GREAT FEASTS, THEREBY UNITING AS IT WERE, THE TWO INTO ONE, AND PARTAKING OF THE GRACE OF THEM BOTH. Therefore today’s feast is called Mid-Pentecost, and the Gospel Reading, "At Mid-feast" –though it refers to the Feast of Tabernacles–is used.
It should be noted that there were THREE GREAT JEWISH FEASTS: THE PASSOVER, PENTECOST, AND THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES. Passover was celebrated on the 15th of Nisan, the first month of the Jewish calendar, which coincides roughly with our March. This feast commemorated that day on which the Hebrews were commanded to eat the lamb in the evening and ANOINT THE DOORS OF THEIR HOUSES WITH ITS BLOOD. Then, having escaped bondage and death at the hands of the Egyptians, they PASSED THROUGH THE RED SEA TOCOME TO THE Promised Land. It is also called "The Feast of Unleavened Bread," because THEY ATE UNLEAVENED BREAD FOR SEVEN DAYS. Pentecost was celebrated 50 days after the Passover, first of all, because the Hebrew Tribes had reached Mount Sinai after leaving Egypt, and there received THE LAW FROM GOD; secondly, it was celebrated TO COMMEMORATE THEIR ENTRY INTO THE Promised Land, where also they ate bread, after having been fed WITH MANNA FORTY YEARS IN THE DESERT. Therefore, on this day they offered to God A SACRIFICE OF BREAD PREPARED WITH NEW WHEAT. Finally, they also celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles from the 15th to the 22nd of "THE SEVENTH MONTH," which corresponds roughly to our September. During this time, THEY LIVE IN BOOTHS MADE OF BRANCHES IN COMMEMORATION OF OUR FORTY YEARS SPENT IN THE DESERT, LIVING IN TABERNACLES, THAT IS, TENTS [Exodos 12:10-20].
Dismissal (Apolytikion0 of the Feast. Plagal of Fourth Tone
At Mid-feast give Thou my thirsty soul to drink of the waters of piety;
for Thou, O Savior, didst cry out to all: Whosoever is thirsty, let
him come to Me and drink. Wherefore, O Well-spring of life, Christ our
God, glory to Thee.
Kontakion Hymn. Fourth Tone
O SOVEREIGN Master and Creator of all things, O Christ our God,
Thou didst cry unto those present at the Judaic Mid-feast and
address them thus: Come and draw the water of immortality
freely. Wherefore, we fall down before Thee and faithfully cry out:
Grant Thy compassion unto us, O Lord, for Thou art truly the Well-
spring of life for all.
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy and Glorious Resurrection,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George