Σάββατο 27 Νοεμβρίου 2021

St John the Compassionate, Patriarch of Alexandria (November 12)

In Communion 

St John was Patriarch of Alexandria in the seventh century. When he was elected Patriarch he immediately asked that a list be drawn up of “all my masters, down to the least of them.” When asked what he meant by this strange request, St John replied “The people whom you call poor and beggars are my masters and helpers, for it is only they who can really help us and bring us to the Kingdom of Heaven.” The list ended up contains 7000 names, and to each one St John allotted a daily allowance of money.

St John then issued decrees about commerce, imposing penalties for those who cheated others in the markets, and then built seven hospitals, each with forty beds. To women who came to give birth in these hospitals, he gave a ‘maternity benefit’ upon leaving. He also built homes for the aged and infirm, and houses of hospitality for strangers.

He cared particularly for Syrian refugees when, in 614 the Persians invaded Syria. Many came to Alexandria, where he provided generously for them. The Persians also sacked Jerusalem, leading the saint to send large amounts of money and food to the city, and ransomed captives there.

St John was also a peacemaker. Twice a week he would sit outside his cathedral and would settle disagreements and advocate for justice for the oppressed. At one point, St John was stopped by a woman who was seeking a mediator for a conflict with her son-in-law, and the other religious officials tried to dismiss her and hurry St John along, no doubt to do what they considered important ecclesial work. St John rebuked them and said “How can I expect God to listen to my prayers if I do not listen to what this woman wants?”

Icon from here

St John loved to get money from the wealthy to give to the poor. One time a certain wealthy person tried to ingratiate the saint by buying him a lavish gift. St John sold it and gave the money to the poor, so another gift was given. This kept happening and St. John said “We shall see who gets tired of this first!” He would also say “If in order to help the needy one is able, without ill-will, to strip the rich down to their shirts, one is not doing wrong, especially if they are heartless skinflints.”

St John's compassion, mercy, and peaceability made him immensely popular with his people. Before him, Christianity in Alexandria was remarkably conflicted and at times violent, but through his peaceful mercy he was reportedly able to increase the number of churches tenfold.

St John the Compassionate/Merciful: the Mission named after him in Toronto Canada (photo)

Τετάρτη 24 Νοεμβρίου 2021

Great Martyr Catherine of Alexandria, Egypt (November 25), & her relics in the Holy Monastery of Sinai


Click here please.
Saint Catherine, Patron Saint of the Holy Monastery of Sinai

The Orthodox monastery of the God-trodden Mount Sinai

Saint Catherine was born in Alexandria towards the end of the third century, and was educated in philosophy, rhetoric, poetry, music, mathematics, astronomy, and medicine. She was renowned for her beauty, her aristocratic birth, and her wide learning. Rejecting all offers of marriage, she was converted to Christianity through a Christian hermit who lived in the outlying deserts, and took Christ as the true Bridegroom of her soul. During the persecutions of Maxentius in the early fourth century, she confessed her faith in Christ and condemned the worship of idols. The emperor appointed fifty rhetoricians to argue with her, but her presentation of Christianity was so brilliant, and her condemnation of the pagan religion so devastating, that they were themselves converted to Christ. Saint Catherine resisted all the emperor’s promises, threatenings, and tortures, and was at last beheaded for her faith. Her memory is celebrated on November 25.

Following her martyrdom, angels bore her body to the peak of Mount Saint Catherine, where they rested until they were translated to the catholicon of the Holy Monastery of Sinai. Here they continue to emit a sweet fragrance, and many miracles are wrought to this day. The veneration of Saint Catherine spread throughout the West, especially after the translation of relics of Saint Catherine to Rouen by Symeon Pentaglosses, in the early eleventh century. The numerous pilgrims to the monastery from that time resulted in the gradual change of name from the Holy Monastery of Sinai to that of Saint Catherine’s Monastery.

The church on the peak of Saint Catherine, established on the rock where her body was found
Saint Catherine’s Reliquary

The marble chest containing the relics of Saint Catherine is located at the south side of the sanctuary in the catholicon of the holy monastery. It is the construction of Procopius the stonecutter, who took nine years to complete the shrine in honor of Saint Catherine. This shrine replaced the earlier marble chest, which is preserved today in the monastery’s treasury. Inside are to be found two precious reliquaries given by the Russian Empire for this purpose, the one enshrining the precious head of the martyr, and the other her left hand. The relics of Saint Catherine are brought out for the veneration of the faithful on special occasions, at which time each pilgrim is given a silver ring bearing the monogram of the saint, in honor of the ring that Saint Catherine received from Christ. These are preserved by pilgrims as a blessing from the saint.


An Orthodox Christian Voice from Zambia about the feast of the Entry of the Holy Theotokos into the temple (November 21)


Orthodox Metropolis of Zambia

The feast of the Entry of the Holy Theotokos into the temple is a marvelous model of our entry into the Heavenly Kingdom. The church itself symbolizes the Kingdom of God on earth. In church we see the altar table, which is like a throne on which the Lord God sits, just as He does on His heavenly throne. In church, through the partaking of holy communion, we become united with the Lord Himself. In church, as in heaven, we are surrounded by hosts of angels and saints. In church, by means of the divine services we glorify God, as do the angels and saints in heaven.
When the righteous Joachim and Anna brought the Holy Virgin to the temple, they offered to the Lord a gift that was most pure.

So should we, in order to enter the Heavenly Realm, be absolutely pure, because the Lord Himself said that nothing unclean can enter the Kingdom of God. But we can cleanse ourselves of our sins and all manner of spiritual impurity only through the sacrament of penitence, through confession and communion.

As the righteous parents of the Holy Virgin prepared to take Her to the temple, they first dressed Her in royal garments, adorned Her, and provided Her with an escort of maidens carrying lighted candles. So should we, in order to enter the Heavenly Realm, first clothe our souls in the garment of obedience to the Lord’s commandments, adorn our souls with virtues, and accompany them with the lighted candles of prayer and charity.

Upon arriving at the temple, the 3-year-old Infant Mary had to make an effort to ascend 15 high steps in order to enter the temple. So should we, in order to enter the Heavenly Realm, make the effort to ascend the ladder of virtues, to labor at fasting and prayer. The Holy Virgin went up the steps by Herself, without any help from others, but with the miraculous help of God. So should we, in our attempt to attain the Heavenly Realm, make the effort ourselves, but constantly asking God for help along the way.

Such is the lesson we receive from this wondrous holiday! The Holy Mother of God, by entering the temple, clearly shows us the Way, and through the earthly temple lies the way into the heavenly temple, the Kingdom of God. Let us follow the Holy Theotokos into the temple, into the church. Now is the time of the Nativity fast, a time for preparing oneself to greet the Saviour on earth, a time for purifying oneself through fasting, prayer and repentance, a time of increased church attendance. Let us not pass by this important period of time, for from this holiday, and throughout the entire Nativity fast, we will hear in church the joyous tidings of our coming salvation, we will hear the joyous appeal: “Christ is born – glorify Him!”

The Entry of the Holy Theotokos into the Temple is one of the twelve major church feasts and is numbered among those that affect our salvation. What takes place on this day? The three-year-old Child, the Most-holy Virgin Mary, is brought by Her parents to the temple of Jerusalem. She is placed on the temple steps and, moved by Divine revelation, the high priest Zacharias comes out to Her and leads Her into the Holy of Holies – the place where God Himself was mysteriously present, the place which no man could ever enter except the high priest, who, moreover, went in only once a year and not without sacrificial blood. And it is precisely this place, the Holy of Holies, which the Virgin Mary enters, invisibly carrying within Herself a new, living sacrifice – the forthcoming Christ, Saviour of the world, Who will sacrifice Himself in order to deliver all men from sin and death.

Photo: the reast of Theotokos in the holy diocese of Arusha, Tanzania (here)

This holiday is “wondrous,” as sings the Church, not finding words to express the inexpressible joy, hope and expectation which commence with today’s event.

From a mysterious and grace-filled seed there will grow up a new covenant between God and man. The Saviour’s most-pure, animate temple – the Most-holy Maiden, precious bridal chamber, sacred treasure of God’s glory – is led into the Lord’s temple. And She brings with Her the foreshadowing of God’s goodwill to all of mankind, the beginning of a new covenant between God and man, the end of the many centuries of man’s alienation from God, and the end of our bondage to sin. Only a brief time remains, only several more years, for the fulfillment of that which the entire humanity awaits – the appearance of God Himself in the flesh, by way of the Most-holy Virgin.

She will be brought up in God’s temple – a place of holiness, purity and the power of God. She will be nourished by Divine grace, in order to become capable of containing Divinity Itself, so that the mystery of God’s incarnation could take place through Her. She must become used to conversing with the angels, in order to harken to the Archangel Gabriel’s glad tidings. She must encompass God within Her heart, in order to truly become a new temple of God.

We are all familiar with the words of the Apostle Paul: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” This mystery is revealed to us because we are called upon to become the temples of God, and this is the reason for today’s celebration.

Today’s feast reminds us of the unique significance of man-made temples (i.e. churches). Let us ponder today: what is a church of God? When we come here today to celebrate the feast, we not only participate in wondrous hymn-singing, but we touch upon eternity, which is always present in a church of God. And nothing else in life makes sense except in the light of eternity. We should ponder this and repent of how often we remain deaf and blind to these great mysteries, and reject God’s gifts.

The Church cannot save us by itself. For our salvation we must actively participate in church life. The Lord calls upon us today to think of this, and to see the sinful condition in which each one of us lives. The Lord continues to await our repentance. He continues to patiently tolerate our detrimental lack of faith, and continuously wishes to enfold us within His grace, in order that we may be saved from the terrible misfortunes that are coming upon the world.

And we know that the Most-holy Virgin Mary, Mother of the suffering mankind that is being destroyed by its sins, will surely intercede for all those who appeal to Her with faith and love, and who offer their lives unto Her.

The feast of Theotokos in the holy diocese of Goma, DRC (here)

Let us thank God that our churches are still standing, and that the Lord and the Mother of God are present in them along with us. We magnify Thee, O Most-holy Virgin, God-chosen Maiden, and we honor Thine Entry into the Temple of the Lord.

The feast of the Entry of the Holy Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, into the temple is a feast of the Church itself. It is also a feast of all of us, because the Holy Virgin, ascending the steps of the temple of Jerusalem, presages not only Her future life, Her ascension into the Holy of Holies, but also presages the affiliation of mankind with Christ’s way of the cross and with His Resurrection. This feast tells us that the Mother of God, Who now enters the Holy of Holies, is even greater than the Holy of Holies. By the grace of God She is more honorable than the cherubim and beyond compare more glorious than the seraphim. She is above all creation. And not only by the grace of God, but by the hope of all of mankind, which has rushed towards this light, towards this holy of holies, towards this focal point of life and the source of life itself – the Lord – through the darkness of ages, through all sorrows, through all the sins and horrors of history.

The entry of the Most-holy Mother of God into the Holy of Holies is revealed to us as the path each one of us must take. It has been said: “The virgins that follow Her shall be brought unto the king, Her companions shall be brought unto Thee” (Psalm 45:14). This has been said about every person and primarily about children. For this reason children participate in a special way in today’s feast along with us. This is always very joyful, because if everyone were to participate in what the Lord gives us, our entire being would be transformed. The salvation which the Lord grants us depends on our offering of our children and on our own lives. It also depends primarily on how we lead our children through life, for what we prepare them and to what we actually dedicate them. What Joachim and Anna did was a great labor of love. Having been barren their entire life, they gave up their sole daughter. They gave Her to God, dedicated Her to the Lord, as though they separated Her from themselves, in order that She belong entirely to God alone.

What Joachim and Anna have done, offering to God the fruit of their prayers, far exceeds any spiritual labors that we could set up as an example. But let us ponder the following: often we find ourselves in a situation similar to these people – Joachim and Anna, – when misfortune befalls us, when we are in need, when we are ready to promise the Lord everything, say all kinds of words of love, just so He would help us, would deliver us from such a state. And then sorrow passes, need passes. But when the time comes to fulfill our promise, we begin to vacillate. We begin to delay the fulfillment of our own words: “I will definitely do this, Lord, only I pray Thee, do such-and-such for me, what I ask of Thee…”. And for this reason our life turns out to be barren. It is barren not in terms of childlessness (although that may also be possible), but in a deeper and more significant sense.

Thinking about this, we should pray today to the Lord and the Mother of God that we may be granted the grace of understanding that we have a true life, that we may be aware that the event which the Church celebrates today is the entry of the holy 3-year-old maiden into the Holy of Holies and Her sanctification by the grace of God for Her future encompassing of God the Word. And all of this for the fulfillment of the sacrament of God’s incarnation and for our salvation, which is already coming to pass. For it is not in vain that we sing:“Christ is born – glorify Him, Christ descends from heaven – meet ye Him.”

Remember that our salvation has actually come to pass already, and it is not only a remembrance. Over and over again we are given the Lent and the approach to the Nativity of Christ in order for our life to become truly more profound, truly deepen with the knowledge of the one unique mystery – that God has become man, that He is present in the life and destiny of each one of us. He always hears our every prayer, because there is no longer that curse which used to hang over every person, there is no longer that inescapable and ineffaceable stamp of evil which tainted mankind before Christ’s incarnation. The way to heaven is open to every person. We must only desire and want genuine truth, genuine beauty, and the light which had once shone for us, the light which the Lord sometimes gives back to us, and without which everything becomes extinguished.

What can we bring to the Lord on this feast day? The parents of the Most-holy maiden Mary – Joachim and Anna – brought Him their own child, but what shall we give the Lord? Does the One to Whom belongs the entire earth and before Whom all the stars in heaven shine need the candles and the vigil lights which we offer to God? They are needed only to testify to the meaningfulness of our prayers and our standing before God. There are no other sacrifices which we can offer Him except one, of which He says: “Son, give Me thy heart,” because our heart is the only thing which does not yet fully belong to Him. He has given us His own heart and wishes us to give Him ours. He, Who loves us and gives all of Himself for us, is waiting for our love in return.Let us pray to God that we may learn this love. Every person understands what reciprocal love is, and how terrible is unrequited love. It is precisely love which each person needs, every human soul needs. And the Lord Himself needs us to love Him with all our heart, all our thoughts, all our strength, our entire life. And to love God means to keep His commandments, as He Himself has said. Only when we keep His commandments can we learn what this all means and of what kind of love Christ is speaking. Only then can we learn this love and be worthy of the Lord, be able to stand up for Christ’s honor in this world where childhood, purity, and sanctity are being defiled. And this we can accomplish only when we go to church and receive God’s grace there, which is always given as long as we are turned towards the Lord.

Let us entreat the Lord for this incorruptible wealth, which He bountifully grants to all of us by the prayers and intercession of the Holy Theotokos. Let us also entreat Him for the ability to respond to His immeasurable gifts with our love, our entire life, the offering of our children to Him. And most precious of all – the unity which we achieve through Him. Amen.

Photo from here

Τρίτη 23 Νοεμβρίου 2021

Ενώ ζούμε στον 21ο αιώνα, χιλιάδες παιδιά δυσκολεύονται να έχουν τα άκρως απαραίτητα!...


Στον Ορθόδοξο Αμπελώνα της Αφρικής

Ενώ ζούμε στον 21ο αιώνα, αιώνα όπου η τεχνολογία έχει εκτοξευθεί στα ύψη και καυχόμαστε για τον πολιτισμό μας, χιλιάδες παιδιά εδώ στο Κονγκό της Αφρικής αυτή τη στιγμή δυσκολεύονται να έχουν τα άκρως απαραίτητα. Ένα ποτήρι γάλα και μία φέτα ψωμί. Αυτό το διαπιστώνουμε, καθώς επισκεπτόμαστε χωριά της Μητροπολιτικής μας Περιφέρειας, η οποία σε έκταση ισοδυναμεί με δύο Ελλάδες. Συναντούμε περιπτώσεις πολυάριθμων οικογενειών που τρώνε κάθε δύο ημέρες. Προτιμούν οι γονείς να μην φάνε οι ίδιοι, για να χορτάσουν τα παιδιά τους με μπουκάρι (αλεύρι από καλαμπόκι).
Επίσης, στο Λουμπουμπάσι, που είναι η συμπρωτεύουσα του Κονγκό, ζούνε παιδιά παρατημένα από τους γονείς τους, απροστάτευτα, με κίνδυνο κάποιοι να τα εκμεταλλευτούν ποικιλοτρόπως και κάποια από αυτά να χαθούν ή να έχουν άσχημο τέλος. Σε σημεία της πόλης βλέπεις ομάδες παρατημένων παιδιών, να ζητάνε βοήθεια για να πάρουνε ένα (pistole) ένα μικρό ψωμάκι, για να ξεγελάσουν την πείνα τους και να περάσουν μόνο με αυτό.
Τέτοια περιστατικά και πολλά άλλα ενώνουν το πάζλ της εικόνας ενός πιάτου άδειου φαγητού. Όχι μόνο εδώ στην Λαϊκή Δημοκρατία του Κονγκό, αλλά και σε πάρα πολλές χώρες της Αφρικής συμβαίνει αυτό.
Πολλές φορές, οι άνθρωποι, συναισθηματικά, προσπαθούμε να κατανοήσουμε με το μυαλό την πείνα των παιδιών. Δυστυχώς, δεν γεμίζουμε τις κοιλιές των παιδιών μόνο με κατανόηση και συμπόνια. Χρειάζεται να γίνουμε ενεργοί. Με ποιο τρόπο; Να γίνουμε κι εμείς ένας κρίκος αυτής της αλυσίδας των αδειανών πιάτων των παιδιών της Αφρικής. Να ενώσουμε το δικό μας γεμάτο πιάτο με το δικό τους το άδειο πιάτο.
Εν κατακλείδι, η μεγάλη ήπειρος που λέγεται Αφρική, έχει τεράστιο γεωργικό πλούτο που μπορεί να θρέψει ολόκληρη τη γη. Όμως, η ίδια δεν μπορεί να θρέψει τα σπλάχνα της, τα παιδιά της. Ας γίνουμε αρωγοί σε αυτή την προσπάθεια που γίνεται για τα παιδιά της Αφρικής. Τουλάχιστον, κατά την ώρα της κρίσεως, όταν ανοίξουμε τα χέρια μας μπροστά στο Θεό, μπορεί να μην είναι καθαρά, αλλά να είναι γεμάτα από πράξεις αγάπης. 

Αρχιμανδρίτης Κοσμάς Θασίτης, Πρωτοσύγκελος της Ιεράς Μητροπόλεως Κατάνγκας

*Φωτογραφία από τα παιδιά του Γυμνασίου του Κολουέζι

Democratic Republic of Congo 
Orthodox Democratic Republic of Congo  

KANANGA, ταινία του Παύλου Τριποδάκη (πρεμιέρα 29 Μαρτίου 2018)

Μαδαγασκάρη: "Το ρύζι είναι άχρηστο τρόφιμο, δεν υπάρχει νερό για να βράσει!"

Ιεραποστολή στην Επισκοπή Τολιάρας και Νοτίου Μαδαγασκάρης

Πρωινή εξόρμηση στο κέντρο της χώρας. Φορτηγό γεμάτο σακιά ρύζι. Κούραση, ζεστή, λακκούβες, ζαλάδα και οι παράγκες ξεπροβάλλουν. Κόσμο τρέχει κατά πάνω μας. Γνώριμη αίσθηση. Αγωνία για να μοιράσουμε δίκαια, μη φύγει κανείς δίχως να πάρει μην υπάρξουν εντάσεις για ένα κιλό ρύζι. Η πείνα κάνει τον άνθρωπο να σβήνει πολλά από αυτά που μυρίζουν ευγένεια. Κατεβήκαμε από το όχημα, ανοίξαμε την πόρτα και εμφανίστηκε το φορτίο. Παγωμένη ατμόσφαιρα. Ούτε φωνές, ούτε σπρώξιμο, ούτε τίποτα. 

Σάστισα. Ρωτώ τον πρόεδρο τι συμβαίνει. "Τίποτα!", απάντησε. "Και τότε γιατί δεν πλησιάζει κανείς;", Συνεχίζω εγώ. "Διότι, εδώ και μήνες το ρύζι είναι άχρηστο τρόφιμο, δεν υπάρχει νερό για να βράσει!". Αμήχανη σιωπή. Τηλεφώνημα στην υδροφόρα να σπεύσει στην περιοχή. Το άχρηστο φορτίο μπήκε στην αποθήκη. Ζήτησα από όλους συγγνώμη. Δεν περίμενα στη ζωή μου ότι για κάποιους αδελφούς υπάρχει χειρότερο βιοτικό πρόβλημα από την έλλειψη φαγητού.

Στον Ορθόδοξο Αμπελώνα της Αφρικής


Μαδαγασκάρη: Ο επίγειος παράδεισος που δεν μπορεί να θρέψει τα παιδιά του  

Iringa, Tanzania: Orthodox Divine Liturgy in a thatched hut in the village of Mkobe // Θεία Λειτουργία σε αχυροκαλύβα στο χωριό Μκόμπε Τανζανίας

Ουγκάντα – Κένυα: Η συμβολή της Ορθόδοξης Εκκλησίας στον αγώνα για την ανεξαρτησία της Αφρικής

Ενώ ζούμε στον 21ο αιώνα, χιλιάδες παιδιά δυσκολεύονται να έχουν τα άκρως απαραίτητα!...

Δευτέρα 22 Νοεμβρίου 2021

Saint Iakovos Tsalikis of Euboea († November 21, 1991), the Elder of love, forgiveness and discernment


Saint Elder Iakovos TsalikisSaint Elder Iakovos Tsalikis


Saint elder Iakovos Tsalikis was among the holiest Elders, who lived in Greece the past decades. His holiness is acknowledged by almost all Greeks and thousands of faithful from the rest world. His entire holy life and the miracles he worked and is still working today, place him among the biggest recent Saints of the Orthodox Christian Religion.

Fr. Iakovos Tsalikis was born in Livisi, Asia Minor on November 5, 1920.  He was one of nine children that his mother Theodora gave birth to.  His father Stavros was taken captive by the Turks in the catastrophe of Asia Minor, when the Greeks lost the war.  The father was later released and joined his family in Greece.  Because of the difficult times in which the Elder’s family lived only three of the nine children lived beyond infancy.

Young Iakovos lived through the upheaval of the Orthodox Christian population of Asia Minor in 1922. Initially the family settled in the village of Saint George in Amfissa, where the living conditions were appalling.  In fact, the conditions there were close to starvation.  In 1925, the family moved to Farakla in Northern Evia, Greece.  The Elder Iakovos was educated in the village Church School of Saint Paraskevi.  Young Iakovos expressed from a young age an inclination for monastic life.  He was known as the monk in the village because of his monastic practices of fasting and prayer. While still a young boy he had a visitation from Saint Paraskevi, who revealed to him in detail the religious life that he would follow in his life.

His fervor for the Church from a young boy was so profound that he learned by heart the whole text of the Divine Liturgy at age seven.  He became seriously ill at the age of fifteen but survived.  The Second World War broke out five years later.  His health was impaired again during the war and he lost his mother in 1942.  During the German occupation of Greece, he and many of his fellow villagers were taken prisoners by the Germans.  They were taken to the village Strofilia.  He and his fellow Greeks suffered terribly during the German occupation of Greece and later with the civil war that broke out with the communists.  He was drafted into the Greek army in 1947 and was discharged in 1949.  In 1949 his father passed on to eternal life.

 Saint Elder Iakovos TsalikisSaint Elder Iakovos Tsalikis

The Elder’s sister got married in 1951. The same year elder Iakovos decided to enter the monastic life.  He chose to enter the Monastery of Saint David in Evia [Euboea], which at that time had only three monks. The conditions at the Monastery were very difficult at the beginning.  The Monastery had been almost abandoned and the monks that lived there did not do anything to improve the facilities.  Because of these difficulties that he encountered the Elder returned to Farakla for a while.  He returned to the Monastery again and was tonsured a monk on November 31, 1952.  The following month, he was ordained a deacon on the 17th of December in Halkida and two days later he was ordained a priest.  He was chosen to be the Abbot of the Monastery of Saint David in 1975.  But prior to this the Elder had become well known and beloved by the faithful in that part of Evia.  The faithful would visit the Monastery for the sacrament of confession and for pastoral counseling.  The number of faithful Christians visiting the Monastery increased drastically and the income of the community was increased dramatically to the point where many improvements were made to the Monastery.

The Elder Iakovos Tsalikis is a contemporary of the Elder Porphyrios.  Both men were miracle-workers. Elder Tsalikis died November 21, 1991 and the Elder Porphyrios died December 2, 1991. They have had a great spiritual impact upon the contemporary Orthodox Church. This impact has continued even more profoundly after their departure for eternity.

 Saint Elder Iakovos TsalikisSaint Elder Iakovos Tsalikis

What is unusual in the life of Elder Tsalikis is his visible battles with demons that assailed him and how he was able to subdue them. Following his experience with these spirits of darkness, he then was given the grace to become a very effective exorcist.  He was able with the sanctified skull of St. David, the founder of his Monastery, to banish many demons from faithful people of the Church, who were possessed. It was early on in his monastic life that the demons would attack Fr. Iakovos physically to the point of knocking him out cold.  On the heels of these merciless attacks by the demons Fr. Iakovos was given the grace to banish demons from people.  The demonic method of attacking people is well known from Holy Scripture and in the history of the Church. They are able to inflict such demonic influence on human beings that they become blind followers of Satan.  It was especially during the 1980’s that possessed people were brought frequently to the Monastery for the prayers of exorcism.  Father Iakovos would read the prayers of exorcism over them and then bless them with the blessed skull of Saint David.  The Monastery was established by Saint David in 1550.  The relics of Saint David are very fragrant to this very day.

Translated from the Greek by:
+Fr. Constantine (Charles) J. Simones, Waterford, CT, USA, October 21, 2013

Elder Iakovos (Tsalikis) of Evia canonized by Constantinople

According to exclusive information from the Greek-language Orthodox site Romfea, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate resolved today to officially number the blessed Elder Iakovos (Tsalikis) of Evia among the saints of God.

The meeting was chaired by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

St. Porphyrios said of the late Elder Iakovos, “Mark my words. He’s one of the most far-sighted people of our time, but he hides it to avoid being praised.”

He lived for the Divine Liturgy, which he celebrated every day, with fear and trembling, dedicated and, literally, elevated. Young children and those with pure hearts saw him walking above the floor, or being served by holy angels. As he himself told a few people, he served together with Cherubim, Seraphim and the saints. During the Preparation, he saw angels of the Lord taking the portions of those being remembered and placing them before the throne of Christ, as prayers. When, because of health problems he felt weak, he would pray before the start of the Divine Liturgy and say, “Lord, as a man I can’t, but help me to celebrate.” After that, he said, he celebrated “as if he had wings.”

He was a wonderful spiritual guide, and through his counsel thousands of people returned to the path of Christ. He loved his children more than himself. It was during confession that you really appreciated his sanctity. He never offended or saddened anyone. He was justly known as “Elder Iakovos the sweet.”

He always had the remembrance of death and of the coming judgement. Indeed, he foresaw his death. He asked an Athonite hierodeacon whom he had confessed on the morning of November 21, the last day of his earthly life, to remain at the monastery until the afternoon, in order to dress him. While he was confessing, he stood up and said, “Get up, son. The Mother of God, St. David, St. John the Russian and St. Iakovos have just come into the cell.” “What are they here for, Elder?” “To take me, son.” At that very moment, his knees gave way and he collapsed. As he’d foretold, he departed “like a little bird.” With a breath like that of a bird, he departed this world on the day of the Entry of the Mother of God. He made his own entry into the kingdom of God. It was 4:17 in the afternoon.

His body remained supple and warm, and the shout which escaped the lips of thousands of people: “Saint! You’re a saint,” bore witness to the feelings of the faithful concerning the late Elder Iakovos. Now, after his blessed demise, he intercedes for everyone at the throne of God, with special and exceptional confidence. Hundreds of the faithful can confirm that he’s been a benefactor to them.

The memory of Elder Iakovos will be celebrated on November 22 according to the New Calendar.

Read a fuller life of Elder Iakovos (Tsalikis) of Evia immediately below.


The Elder of love, forgiveness and discernment

Orthodox Christianity - Source: Pemptousia

November 21, 2016

Elder Iakovos Tsalikis (5/11/1920-21/11/1991)

Our age and today’s culture has, unfortunately moved away from the vision and pursuit of sanctity. The Orthodox faith is based on the presence of the saints. Without these, our Church is on the path towards secularization. Naturally, as we know from Scripture, God alone is holy, and sanctity derives from our relationship with Him, and therefore sanctity is theocentric rather than anthropocentric. Our sanctity depends on the glory and the grace of God and our union with Him, not on our virtues. Sanctification assumes the free will of the person being sanctified. As Saint Maximos the Confessor says, all that we bring is our intentions. Without those, God doesn’t act. And Saint John the Damascan repeats that we render honour to the saints ‘for having become freely unified with God and having Him dwell in them and by this participation having become by grace what He is by nature’. The saints didn’t seek to be glorified, but to glorify God, because sanctity means participation in and communion with the sanctity of God.

The source of sanctity in the Orthodox Church is the Divine Eucharist. By partaking of the Holy One, Jesus Christ, we become holy. The ‘holy things’, the Body and Blood of Christ, are given as communion ‘to the holy’, the members of the Church. Sanctity follows on from Holy Communion. The ascetic struggles of the saints are not an aim but a means which leads to the aim, which is Eucharistic communion, the most perfect and complete union with the Holy One. In the Lord’s prayer, the ‘Our Father’, we see that sanctification is associated with the Kingdom of God. We ask that His Kingdom come into the world so that everyone can praise Him and can partake of His sanctity and His glory, which is what we call ‘deification’.

The Kingdom of God and deification are an eternal extension of the Divine Liturgy within space and time, as Saint Maximos the Confessor writes. By taking part in the Divine Eucharist, the saints become gods by grace, but they’re aware that ‘they have the treasure in vessels of clay’ and they see ‘through a glass darkly’. They await and expect the time when the gate of heaven will open and they’ll see God ‘as He is’. Their struggle against the passions and the demons is continuous and they believe that everyone else will go to Paradise except them. They know their insignificance and unworthiness, they don’t believe in their moral superiority and worthiness and, with the humility which they feel, they see others as saints, especially when these people render them honours. This is due to love, which is the one thing which will remain in the Kingdom of God.

An example of their love for God is their personal struggle to observe His commandments. Submission to the will of God cleanses people of their passions and prepares the place for grace to take up its dwelling. All the saints are characterized by an attitude of asceticism and self-sacrifice. According to Saint Isaac, the ascetic life is the mother of sanctification ‘from which is born the first taste of the sense of the mysteries of Christ’. Or, as Saint Maximos the Confessor puts it: ‘By their voluntary mortification, denying all evils and passions… they have made themselves pilgrims and strangers to life, fighting boldly against the rebellions of the world and the body… and have preserved the honour of their soul’.

Such a vessel of grace and dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit, was Elder Iakovos Tsalikis, one of the most important and saintly personalities of our day, a great and holy Elder, a true friend of God.

He was a living incarnation of the Gospel, and his aim was sanctification. From early childhood he enjoyed praying and would go to different chapels, light the icon-lamps and pray to the saints. In one chapel in his village, he was repeatedly able to speak to Saint Paraskevi. He submitted to God’s call, which came to him when he was still a small child, denied himself and took up the Cross of Christ until his last breath. In 1951, he went to the Monastery of Saint David the Elder, where he was received in a miraculous manner by the saint himself.

He was tonsured in November 1952. As a monk he submitted without complaint and did nothing without the blessing of the abbot. He would often walk four to five hours to meet his Elder, whose obedience was as parish-priest in the small town of Limni. The violence he did to himself was his main characteristic. He didn’t give in to himself easily. He lived through unbelievable trials and temptations. The great poverty of the monastery, his freezing cell with broken blinds and cold wind and snow coming in through the gaps, the lack of the bare essentials, even of winter clothing and shoes, made his whole body shiver and he was often ill. He bore the brunt of the spiritual, invisible and also perceptible war waged by Satan, who was defeated by Iakovos’ obedience, prayer, meekness and humility. He fought his enemies with the weapons given to us by our Holy Church: fasting, vigils and prayer.

His asceticism was astonishing. He ate like a bird, according to his biographer. He slept on the ground, for two hours in twenty-four. The whole night was devoted to prayer. Regarding his struggle, he used to say: ‘I do nothing. Whatever I do, it’s God doing it. Saint David brings me up to the mark for it’.

His humility, which was legendary and inspiring, was his main characteristic. The demons which were in the possessed people who went to the monastery cursed him and said: ‘We want to destroy you, to neutralize you, to exterminate you, but we can’t because of your humility’. He always highlighted his lack of education, his inadequacies and his humbleness. It was typical of him that, when he spoke, every now and again he’d say: ‘Forgive me’. He was forever asking people’s forgiveness, which was a sign of his humble outlook. Once, when he was invited to visit the Monastery of Saint George Armas, where the abbot was the late Fr. George Kapsanis, he replied: ‘Fathers, I’m a dead dog. What will I do if I come to see you? Pollute the air?’ He always had the sense that he was a mere nothing.

And when he became abbot he always said that he wasn’t responsible for what happened in the monastery: ‘Saint David’s the abbot here’, he maintained. When he served with other priests, he went to the corner of the altar, leaving them to lead the service. When they told him: ‘This isn’t right, you’re the abbot of the monastery’, he’d reply: ‘Son, Saint David’s the abbot here’.

Although he didn’t seek office, he agreed to be ordained to the diaconate by Grigorios, the late Bishop of Halkida, on 18 December 1952. The next day he became a priest. In his address after the ordination, the bishop said: ‘And you, son, will be sanctified. Continue, with God’s power, and the Church will declare you [a saint]’. His words were prophetic. He was made abbot on 27 June, 1975, by Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Halkida, a post he held until his death.

As abbot he behaved towards the fathers and the visitors to the monastery with a surfeit of love and understanding and great discernment. His hospitality was proverbial. Typical of him was the discernment with which he approached people. He saw each person as an image of Christ and always had a good word to say to them. His comforting words, which went straight to the hearts of his listeners, became the starting-point of their repentance and spiritual life in the Church. The Elder had the gift, which he concealed, of insight and far-sight. He recognized the problem or the sin of each person and corrected them with discretion. Illumined by the Holy Spirit he would tell each person, in a few words, exactly what they needed. Saint Porfyrios said of the late Elder Iakovos: ‘Mark my words. He’s one of the most far-sighted people of our time, but he hides it to avoid being praised’.

In a letter to the Holy Monastery of Saint David, the Ecumenical Patriarch, Vartholomaios, wrote: ‘Concerning the late Elder, with his lambent personality, the same is true of him as that which Saint John Chrysostom wrote about Saint Meletios of Antioch: Not only when he taught or shone, but the mere sight of him was enough to bring the whole teaching of virtue into the souls of those looking at him’.

He lived for the Divine Liturgy, which he celebrated every day, with fear and trembling, dedicated and, literally, elevated. Young children and those with pure hearts saw him walking above the floor, or being served by holy angels. As he himself told a few people, he served together with Cherubim, Seraphim and the Saints. During the Preparation, he saw Angels of the Lord taking the portions of those being remembered and placing them before the throne of Christ, as prayers. When, because of health problems he felt weak, he would pray before the start of the Divine Liturgy and say: ‘Lord, as a man I can’t, but help me to celebrate’. After that, he said, he celebrated ‘as if he had wings’.

One of the characteristic aspects of his life was his relationship with the saints. He lived with them, talked to them and saw them. He had an impressive confidence towards them, particularly Saint David and Saint John the Russian, whom he literally considered his friends. ‘I whisper something in the ear of the Saint and he gets me a direct line to the Lord’. When he was about to have an operation at the hospital in Halkida, he prayed with faith: ‘Saint David, won’t you go by Prokopi and fetch Saint John, so you can come here and support me for the operation? I feel the need of your presence and support’. Ten minutes later the Saints appeared and, when he saw them, the Elder raised himself in bed and said to them: ‘Thank you for heeding my request and coming here to find me’.

One of his best known virtues was charity. Time and again he gave to everybody, depending on their needs. He could tell which of the visitors to the monastery were in financial difficulties. He’d ask to speak to them in private, give them money and ask them not to tell anyone. He never wanted his charitable acts to become known.

Another gift he had was that, through the prayers of Saint David, he was able to expel demons. He would read the prayers of the Church, make the sign of the Cross with the precious skull of the saint over the people who were suffering and the latter were often cleansed.

He was a wonderful spiritual guide, and through his counsel thousands of people returned to the path of Christ. He loved his children more than himself. It was during confession that you really appreciated his sanctity. He never offended or saddened anyone. He was justly known as ‘Elder Iakovos the sweet’.

He suffered a number of painful illnesses. One of his sayings was, ‘Lucifer’s been given permission to torment my body’. And ‘God’s given His consent for my flesh, which I’ve worn for seventy-odd years, to be tormented for one reason alone: that I may be humbled’. The last of the trials of his health was a heart condition which was the result of some temptation he’d undergone.

He always had the remembrance of death and of the coming judgement. Indeed, he foresaw his death. He asked an Athonite hierodeacon whom he had confessed on the morning of November 21, the last day of his earthly life, to remain at the monastery until the afternoon, in order to dress him. While he was confessing, he stood up and said: ‘Get up, son. The Mother of God, Saint David, Saint John the Russian and Saint Iakovos have just come into the cell’. ‘What are they here for, Elder?’ ‘To take me, son’. At that very moment, his knees gave way and he collapsed. As he’d foretold, he departed ‘like a little bird’. With a breath like that of a bird, he departed this world on the day of the Entry of the Mother of God. He made his own entry into the kingdom of God. It was 4:17 in the afternoon.

His body remained supple and warm, and the shout which escaped the lips of thousands of people: ‘Saint! You’re a saint’, bore witness to the feelings of the faithful concerning the late Elder Iakovos. Now, after his blessed demise, he intercedes for everyone at the throne of God, with special and exceptional confidence. Hundreds of the faithful can confirm that he’s been a benefactor to them.


Πέμπτη 18 Νοεμβρίου 2021

From the Orthodox Metropolis of Zambia about the Parable of the Good Samaritan

Orthodox Metropolis of Zambia (photo from here)

What is the meaning of the Parable of the Good Samaritan?

The Parable of the Good Samaritan is precipitated by and in answer to a question posed to Jesus by a lawyer. In this case the lawyer would have been an expert in the Mosaic Law and not a court lawyer of today. The lawyer’s question was, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" (Luke 10:25). This question provided Jesus with an opportunity to define what His disciples’ relationship should be to their neighbors. The text says that the scribe (lawyer) had put the question to Jesus as a test, but the text does not indicate that there was hostility in the question. He could have simply been seeking information. The wording of the question does, however, give us some insight into where the scribe’s heart was spiritually. He was making the assumption that man must do something to obtain eternal life. Although this could have been an opportunity for Jesus to discuss salvation issues, He chose a different course and focuses on our relationships and what it means to love.

Jesus answers the question using what is called the Socratic method; i.e., answering a question with a question: “He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?’" (Luke 10:26). By referring to the Law, Jesus is directing the man to an authority they both would accept as truth, the Old Testament. In essence, He is asking the scribe, what does Scripture say about this and how does he interpret it? Jesus thus avoids an argument and puts Himself in the position of evaluating the scribe’s answer instead of the scribe evaluating His answer. This directs the discussion towards Jesus’ intended lesson. The scribe answers Jesus’ question by quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. This is virtually the same answer that Jesus had given to the same question in Matthew 22 and Mark 12.

In verse 28, Jesus affirms that the lawyer’s answer is correct. Jesus’ reply tells the scribe that he has given an orthodox (scripturally proper) answer, but then goes on in verse 28 to tell him that this kind of love requires more than an emotional feeling; it would also include orthodox practice; he would need to “practice what he preached.” The scribe was an educated man and realized that he could not possibly keep that law, nor would he have necessarily wanted to. There would always be people in his life that he could not love. Thus, he tries to limit the law’s command by limiting its parameters and asked the question “who is my neighbor?” The word “neighbor” in the Greek means “someone who is near,” and in the Hebrew it means “someone that you have an association with.” This interprets the word in a limited sense, referring to a fellow Jew and would have excluded Samaritans, Romans, and other foreigners. Jesus then gives the parable of the Good Samaritan to correct the false understanding that the scribe had of who his neighbor is, and what his duty is to his neighbor.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan tells the story of a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho, and while on the way he is robbed of everything he had, including his clothing, and is beaten to within an inch of his life. That road was treacherously winding and was a favorite hideout of robbers and thieves. The next character Jesus introduces into His story is a priest. He spends no time describing the priest and only tells of how he showed no love or compassion for the man by failing to help him and passing on the other side of the road so as not to get involved. If there was anyone who would have known God’s law of love, it would have been the priest. By nature of his position, he was to be a person of compassion, desiring to help others. Unfortunately, “love” was not a word for him that required action on the behalf of someone else. The next person to pass by in the Parable of the Good Samaritan is a Levite, and he does exactly what the priest did: he passes by without showing any compassion. Again, he would have known the law, but he also failed to show the injured man compassion.

The next person to come by is the Samaritan, the one least likely to have shown compassion for the man. Samaritans were considered a low class of people by the Jews since they had intermarried with non-Jews and did not keep all the law. Therefore, Jews would have nothing to do with them. We do not know if the injured man was a Jew or Gentile, but it made no difference to the Samaritan; he did not consider the man’s race or religion. The “Good Samaritan” saw only a person in dire need of assistance, and assist him he did, above and beyond the minimum required. He dresses the man’s wounds with wine (to disinfect) and oil (to sooth the pain). He puts the man on his animal and takes him to an inn for a time of healing and pays the innkeeper with his own money. He then goes beyond common decency and tells the innkeeper to take good care of the man, and he would pay for any extra expenses on his return trip. The Samaritan saw his neighbor as anyone who was in need.

Because the good man was a Samaritan, Jesus is drawing a strong contrast between those who knew the law and those who actually followed the law in their lifestyle and conduct. Jesus now asks the lawyer if he can apply the lesson to his own life with the question “So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?" (Luke 10:36). Once again, the lawyer’s answer is telling of his personal hardness of heart. He cannot bring himself to say the word “Samaritan”; he refers to the “good man” as “he who showed mercy.” His hate for the Samaritans (his neighbors) was so strong that he couldn’t even refer to them in a proper way. Jesus then tells the lawyer to “go and do likewise,” meaning that he should start living what the law tells him to do.

By ending the encounter in this manner, Jesus is telling us to follow the Samaritan’s example in our own conduct; i.e., we are to show compassion and love for those we encounter in our everyday activities. We are to love others (vs. 27) regardless of their race or religion; the criterion is need. If they need and we have the supply, then we are to give generously and freely, without expectation of return. This is an impossible obligation for the lawyer, and for us. We cannot always keep the law because of our human condition; our heart and desires are mostly of self and selfishness. When left to our own, we do the wrong thing, failing to meet the law. We can hope that the lawyer saw this and came to the realization that there was nothing he could do to justify himself, that he needed a personal savior to atone for his lack of ability to save himself from his sins. Thus, the lessons of the Parable of the Good Samaritan are three-fold: (1) we are to set aside our prejudice and show love and compassion for others. (2) Our neighbor is anyone we encounter; we are all creatures of the creator and we are to love all of mankind as Jesus has taught. (3) Keeping the law in its entirety with the intent to save ourselves is an impossible task; we need a savior, and this is Jesus.

There is another possible way to interpret the Parable of the Good Samaritan, and that is as a metaphor. In this interpretation the injured man is all men in their fallen condition of sin. The robbers are Satan attacking man with the intent of destroying their relationship with God. The lawyer is mankind without the true understanding of God and His Word. The priest is religion in an apostate condition. The Levite is legalism that instills prejudice into the hearts of believers. The Samaritan is Jesus who provides the way to spiritual health. Although this interpretation teaches good lessons, and the parallels between Jesus and the Samaritan are striking, this understanding draws attention to Jesus that does not appear to be intended in the text. Therefore, we must conclude that the teaching of the Parable of the Good Samaritan is simply a lesson on what it means to love one’s neighbor.
“ἀγάπα τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν”

Ο καλός Σαμαρείτης

Οι «άνθρωποι του Θεού»

—Διδάσκαλε, τι πρέπει να κάνω για να κληρονομήσω την αιώνια ζωή; ρώτησε κάποτε ένας νομοδιδάσκαλος τον Κύριο θέλοντας να Τον παγιδεύσει. Κι Εκείνος τον παρέπεμψε στις εντολές του Μωσαϊκού Νόμου. Τότε ο νομοδιδάσκαλος ανέφερε τις δύο βασικότερες εντολές της Παλαιάς Διαθήκης, την αγάπη προς το Θεό και την αγάπη προς τον πλησίον. Θέλοντας όμως να δικαιολογηθεί, επειδή έθεσε ένα ερώτημα στο οποίο του ήταν γνωστή η απάντηση, έθεσε κι ένα δεύτερο: Ποιον πρέπει να θεωρώ πλησίον μου; Αυτό το ερώτημα στάθηκε η αφορμή να διηγηθεί ο Κύριος μία υπέροχη παραβολή, την παραβολή του καλού Σαμαρείτη.

Κάποιος άνθρωπος, είπε, κατέβαινε από τα Ιεροσόλυμα στην Ιεριχώ και έπεσε σε ενέδρα ληστών, οι οποίοι τον λήστεψαν, τον έγδυσαν, τον καταπλήγωσαν και τον εγκατέλειψαν μισοπεθαμένο. Κάποια στιγμή ένας ιερεύς που κατέβαινε στο δρόμο εκείνο, ενώ τον είδε από μακριά, πέρασε από το απέναντι μέρος χωρίς να του δώσει καμία βοήθεια. Παρόμοια και κάποιος Λευίτης, υπηρέτης του ναού, έφθασε στο μέρος εκείνο. Αυτός φάνηκε ακόμη πιο άσπλαχνος. Ήλθε πολύ κοντά, είδε την άθλια κατάσταση του πληγωμένου ανθρώπου κι έφυγε. Ο ιερεύς έφυγε από ενστικτώδη φιλαυτία, ενώ ο Λευίτης έπειτα από υπολογισμό.

Και τα δύο όμως πρόσωπα, ο ιερέας και ο Λευίτης είχαν κάτι κοινό: Ήταν δύο πρόσωπα που είχαν αξίωμα και έργο ιερό. Αυτοί εξαιτίας της ιδιότητάς τους θα έπρεπε περισσότερο από κάθε άλλο άνθρωπο της εποχής εκείνης να είναι συμπονετικοί και σπλαχνικοί, να δείξουν αγάπη στον ετοιμοθάνατο διαβάτη. Αυτοί λόγω της θέσεως τους δίδασκαν και τους άλλους το καθήκον της αγάπης προς τον πλησίον. Κι όμως αθέτησαν το καθήκον τους αυτό. Είναι θλιβερό, εκείνοι που θα έπρεπε να δίνουν το παράδειγμα της αγάπης, να γίνονται παραδείγματα σκληρότητάς. Οι άνθρωποι του Θεού να δυσφημούν τόσο πολύ το Θεό.

Κάτι τέτοιο δυστυχώς επαναλαμβάνεται πολλές φορές μέσα στην ιστορία σε «ανθρώπους του Θεού». Και είναι φοβερό να συμβαίνει κάποτε και σε μας. Σε μας που θέλουμε να είμαστε άνθρωποι της Εκκλησίας, να αποδεικνυόμαστε στην πράξη άσπλαχνοι, σκληροί, αδιάφοροι στον ανθρώπινο πόνο. Είναι τραγικό να ισχύει κάτι τέτοιο και για μας. Εάν δεν δείξουμε εμείς οι πιστοί χριστιανοί αγάπη, ποιος άλλος θα δείξει; Ο Κύριός μας το ξεκαθάρισε ότι χωρίς την αγάπη προς τον συνάνθρωπό μας, Βασιλεία ουρανών δεν πρόκειται να κληρονομήσουμε. Η αγάπη προς τον πλησίον είναι η σφραγίδα της γνησιότητός μας, η βασική προϋπόθεση της σωτηρίας μας.

Ο Χριστός, καλός Σαμαρείτης

Η συνέχεια της παραβολής είναι γνωστή. Κάποια στιγμή ένας Σαμαρείτης που διάβαινε από το δρόμο εκείνο είδε τον καταπληγωμένο άνθρωπο, πλησίασε κοντά του και τον σπλαχνίστηκε. Δεν φοβήθηκε μην πάθει τα ίδια, έμεινε κοντά του, έπλυνε τα τραύματά του, τα άλειψε με λάδι και κρασί, τα έδεσε με επιδέσμους. Και αφού με πολύ κόπο ανέβασε τον άνθρωπο αυτόν στο ζώο του, τον μετέφερε σε κάποιο πανδοχείο και τον περιποιήθηκε όλη τη νύχτα. Και την άλλη μέρα το πρωί έδωσε δύο δηνάρια στον ξενοδόχο και του είπε: Περιποιήσου τον για να γίνει καλά. Και ό,τι άλλο ξοδέψεις, καθώς θα επιστρέφω στην πατρίδα μου και θα περάσω πάλι από εδώ, θα σου το εξοφλήσω.
Λοιπόν, ρώτησε ο Κύριος το νομοδιδάσκαλο, ποιος από τους τρεις αυτούς επιτέλεσε το καθήκον του προς τον πλησίον; Κι εκείνος απάντησε: Αυτός που τον συμπόνεσε και τον ελέησε. Ο Κύριος τότε του είπε: Πήγαινε και κάνε κι εσύ το ίδιο.

Αυτή την προσταγή δίνει και σε μας ο Κύριος. Μας ζητά δηλαδή να δείχνουμε αγάπη σε κάθε άνθρωπο που πάσχει, χωρίς να εξετάζουμε αν αυτός είναι δικός μας, ξένος ή εχθρός μας, και χωρίς να υπολογίζουμε θυσίες και κόπους και δαπάνες. Αυτό μας το δίδαξε ο Κύριος όχι μόνο μέσα από την παραβολή αυτή αλλά πολύ περισσότερο μέσα από τη ζωή του. Διότι ο ίδιος έγινε ο καλός Σαμαρείτης για μας. Αγάπησε τους ανθρώπους μέχρι θανάτου. Η αγάπη του κορυφώθηκε και έλαμψε σε όλο το μεγαλείο επάνω στο Σταυρό. Και μας ζητά να μάθουμε κι εμείς να αγαπάμε, να γινόμαστε καλοί Σαμαρείτες στους γύρω μας.

Δυστυχώς όμως στην εποχή μας, ενώ όλοι μιλούμε για αγάπη, πραγματική αγάπη δεν έχουμε. Κι αυτό φαίνεται περισσότερο στις σχέσεις μας με τα δικά μας πρόσωπα. Πώς τους μιλάμε, πώς τους φερόμαστε; Αλλά αν δυσκολευόμαστε να αγαπήσουμε τους δικούς μας, πόσο μάλλον τους ξένους; Γι΄ αυτό υποφέρουμε. Διότι αγάπη σημαίνει θυσία, σημαίνει να δίνουμε κι όχι να απαιτούμε να γίνουν οι άλλοι καλοί για να τους αγαπήσουμε. Αγάπη σημαίνει να γίνει πλατιά η καρδιά μας όπως των αγίων για να χωράει όλους, ακόμη κι αυτούς που μας δυσκολεύουν. Να τους προσφέρουμε την αγάπη μας με απαλό τρόπο, χωρίς να έχουν την αίσθηση ότι κάνουμε προσπάθεια για να τους αγαπήσουμε. Να ακούμε με πόνο τον πόνο τους, να τους ανακουφίζουμε στο πρόβλημά τους. Κατανοώντας το χαρακτήρα τους, να διαισθανόμαστε την κούρασή τους, τις δυσκολίες τους, τις επιθυμίες τους. Και να τους προσφέρουμε την αγάπη μας άλλοτε μ’ ένα στοργικό λόγο κι άλλοτε με τη σιωπή μας· άλλοτε με τη διακονία μας κι άλλοτε με θυσίες που κοστίζουν ίσως πολύ. Έτσι θα γίνουμε καλοί Σαμαρείτες. Έτσι θα δούμε πρόσωπο Θεού.