Thursday, May 25 | The Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ — Christ appeared to His disciples 11 times after His Resurrection, showing them that He truly destroyed death and the devil. The last appearance to His disciples was 40 days after His Resurrection, the feast-day we celebrate on this day. The Ascension of our Lord happened at the “Mount of Olives.” Jesus’ disciples asked Him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). They still had not fully understood the message of Jesus Christ, but were going to soon, at Pentecost. We see in the icon of the Ascension the Theotokos and the disciples looking upon Christ ascending. We also see two angels together with the disciples; these angels told the disciples, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). This shows us that Jesus Christ will come again to the earth. The first time, He came as its Savior; the second time, He will come as its Judge (“to judge the living and the dead”).
May 21 | Sunday of the Blind Man — today’s Gospel (Jn 9:1-38) describes the miracle of Jesus giving sight to the blind man. Suffering for so long, he is cured of his ailment by our Lord. The Jewish authorities, jealous of Christ, decided to question the man and want him to admit that Jesus did not do this. They even bring in his parents to try and sway his mind. It does not work; rather, he further upsets them since he asks them why they are asking these questions: “Do you want to become His disciples?” They banish him from the synagogue, but he finds his true home when he meets his Lord, confessing that He is the Son of Man and the only way to salvation.
May 14 | Sunday of the Samaritan Woman — when His disciples went into the city, Jesus saw a Samaritan woman. Now, if He was to have followed protocol at that time, He would not have even talked to her; yet, He did more than this. He asked her for a drink of water, to which she declined. Christ, though, promised her “living water”. She thought that it was this kind of “special water” that she would drink and never get thirsty again. Jesus told her that it is more than this. We know today that this “living water” is Jesus Christ Himself, who we receive at every Divine Liturgy by Holy Communion. She told Jesus that the Messiah was to come, to which our Lord Christ gave her the biggest surprise: “I Am He, who is talking to you!” (John 4:26). All of the Samaritans came to meet Jesus, and He stayed with them a few days.
May 7 | Throughout the Pentecostarion Period, we see in the various Biblical readings how the Divinity of Jesus Christ is present, God helping His creation. This is definitely true with the Sunday of the Paralytic. Jesus saw the paralytic waiting by the pool of Siloam and asked him if he wanted to be healthy again. The person replied, “Sir, I have no person to put me in the pool when the water is troubled.” Yet, since Jesus is the Curer of all sicknesses, He healed the man: “Rise, take your pallet and walk.” Jesus Christ did this on the Sabbath, which is the day that no work could be done (according to Jewish law). This shows us that: Jesus Christ is the God-man, and can cure all sicknesses, just like He did for the paralytic – all we must do is believe He can; Jesus is above the Sabbath since the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.
April 30 | This Sunday is dedicated to the Myrrh-bearing Women that went to anoint the body of Jesus with myrrh on the Sunday of Pascha, only to be the first ones to find out about the Resurrection of the Lord. The word Myrrh-bearers comes from the Greek word μυροφόρες, which means “I bring myrrh.” Each of the four Gospels gives different roles of the eight women (both at the Cross and at the tomb on Easter morning). The eight Myrrh-bearing Women are: the Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary; Mary Magdalene; Joanna; Salome; Mary the wife of Cleopas (or Alphaeus); Susanna; and, Mary and Martha of Bethany (Lazarus’ sisters). ‘Myrrh-bearing women, why have you come to the tomb? Why do you seek the living among the dead? The Lord has risen, take courage!’ cries the Angel. (Hymn from Vespers)
April 23 | Thomas Sunday is the Sunday after Pascha and continues the story of the Agape Vespers. Thomas said to the disciples that he did not believe Jesus rose from the dead: “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). The week after, Jesus appeared again to His disciples (this time, with Thomas present). Jesus told Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” And Thomas answered and said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:27-29).
Resurrection Service Hymns
The Katavasiai – The Canon
The 1st Ode. 1st Tone
It is the Day of Resurrection! O people, let us glory in splendor! Pascha, the Lord’s Pascha! For Christ our God has transported us who sing the triumphal hymn from death to life, and from earth to Heaven.
Paschal Catechetical Homily of St. John Chrysostom
Whosoever is a devout lover of God, let him enjoy this beautiful bright Festival. And whosoever is a grateful servant, let him joyously enter into the joy of his Lord. And if any be weary with fasting, let him now receive his reward. If any has toiled from the first hour, let him receive his just debt. If any came after the third, let him gratefully celebrate. If any arrived after the sixth, let him not doubt; for he too shall sustain no loss. If any have delayed to the ninth, let him come without hesitation. Read More
Contemplate the Resurrected Lord Jesus
How Simon Peter and the other disciple ran quickly to the tomb to confirm the news of the Resurrection.
How one after the other entered the tomb and saw the linen clothes and the napkin.
How there were no material obstacles to His appearing in His glorified body wherever He wanted.
Patriarchal Encyclical for Holy Pascha
Beloved brothers and sisters, children in the risen Lord,
“In the world you shall have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16.33) is the reassurance of the Lord, who alone trampled upon death by death, to generations of men and women. “Christ is Risen!” is the cry that we, too, pronounce to all people far and wide from this Sacred See, which has experienced worldly crucifixion and tribulation; but it is also the See of resurrection inasmuch as it is from this corner of the planet, the City of Constantine, that we proclaim “the victory of life” that dispels every form of corruption and death itself. Read More
Encyclical of Metropolitan Sotirios for Holy Pascha
He is risen, He is not here. Although they did not believe that He would die on the Cross, the faithful women disciples of the Lord, the myrrh-bearers, nonetheless went to anoint His body with myrrh and spices, as was the Jewish custom. Upon arriving at the tomb, they found that the great stone that sealed it was rolled to the side, not blocking the entrance. The grave was open. The sacred Body of the Lord was not inside. Only the cloth which covered His Body. Seeing this, they were seized with fear and trembling. Yet, the angel clothed in a white robe shared with them the message of Truth: “He is risen, He is not here.” He resurrected from the dead, no longer in the grave. Read More (Greek & English)