May-June 2017

Post date: Jul 31, 2017 1:09:17 PM

“He is not here; he has risen!” These words of the angel to the myrrh-bearing women transformed their sorrow into joy and brought to all of us the hope of the resurrection. And so we greet one another with “Christ is risen,” proclaiming the same message of joy that the myrrh-bearers received.

After the resurrection, Christ was with His disciples for forty days. What did Christ do in that time? St. Luke tells us that on the very day of the resurrection He met Luke and Cleopas on the road to Emmaus. There, “beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Lk. 24:27). After that encounter, Jesus continued teaching: “He said to them, ‘This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.’ Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” (Lk 24:44-45). Jesus had been teaching – both the disciples and the people – prior to the resurrection: “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people” (Mt. 4:23). Yet, in order to make sure that the Scriptures would be properly understood in the light of the resurrection, He continued to teach while He was still with His disciples.

St. Luke seems to emphasize the importance that Jesus placed on teaching the disciples after the resurrection, but it is not just those in the “inner circle” of the faith (if such a thing even existed) that are supposed to know the Scriptures and their interpretation. St. Matthew relates this commandment of Jesus’s: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-20). The disciples obeyed and did exactly that. The letters of the apostles are full of instruction in the faith to the communities that he founded. And, of course, we have the story of the Ethiopian eunuch:

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian[a] eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”

Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.

“How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading:

“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,

and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,

so he did not open his mouth.

In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.

Who can speak of his descendants?

For his life was taken from the earth.”

The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. (Acts 8:26-35)

By virtue of our baptism we have become disciples of Christ and, as disciples, we are to be engaged in a life-long process of learning about Christ and how to obey His commandments. And, just like the disciples and the Ethiopian eunuch, we, too need instruction in order to understand. There are several ways to receive this instruction.

The first is through the services and hymns of the church. Especially at great feasts, the Old Testament readings at Vespers are placed in a context that illuminates their understanding in the Church. The hymns for those feasts also reference Old Testament themes that find their fulfillment in the feasts we celebrate. Other hymns, especially the katavasiae at Orthros, also connect Old Testament themes with the New Testament.

The second way of receiving instruction is through reading the works of the saints and other trustworthy materials. The sermons and writings of St. John Chrysostom, St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. Ambrose of Milan, and many others, are full of useful instruction in both the faith and the practical application of that faith.

The third way is to avail ourselves of educational opportunities: seminars, webinars, presentations, retreats, and educational series provided by parishes and dioceses. The Metropolis of Chicago, for example has resources available at (Metropolis department of religious education) and (family ministry). And, as always, if there is a topic you would like to learn more about, I would love to hear from you, so I can include it in one of our educational series.

May God grant us the thirst for knowledge about God that the Ethiopian eunuch had and may He grant us guides that can lead us to encounter the risen Christ.

With love in Christ,

+Fr. Peter