Redeeming the Time
An Orthodox Christian
Journal
St Nicholas Orthodox Church, Dallas Home Page St Nicholas the Wonderworker Go to the bottom of the page
Russian Orthodox Church
of St Nicholas
Dallas, Texas
Redeeming the Time
July 31/ August 13, 2000
Vol. 04.12


See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
redeeming the time, because the days are evil.


PRINTABLE Version



NEWS 3

DORMITION FAST

TRANSFIGURATION

SUMMARY OF THE DORMITION FAST

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE HOLY PROPHET ELIAS

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE FEEDING OF THE 5000

THOUGHTS ON THE FEEDING OF THE 5000, AND HOLY PROPHET ELIAS

GLEANINGS FROM THE FATHERS

Who wins?

Do you really love God?

True patience

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ABOUT THE HOLY PROPHET ELIAS

Answer 1

Answer 2

Answer 3

Answer 4

Answer 5

Answer 6

Answer 7

Answer 8

Answer 9

Answer 10

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ABOUT THE FEEDING OF THE 5000

Answer 1

Answer 2

Answer 3

Answer 4

Answer 5

Answer 6

Answer 7

Answer 8

Answer 9

Answer 10

News

Dormition Fast

Tomorrow (August 14th, on the civil calendar), we begin a two week fast in honor of the Holy Theotokos, in preparation for the celebration of her holy Dormition (falling asleep). Our fast ends on Monday August 28th (civil date), the day we celebrate the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos.

The Dormition fast is short, but is stricter than all the other fasting periods except Great Lent. We fast on all days from the usual non-lenten foods, such as all animal products (meat, poultry, alligator, armadillo, rattlesnake, milk, cheese, etc.) and olive oil and wine. In addition, we also abstain from fish on all days of the fast, including weekends, except for the feast of the Transfiguration, when we may ease our fasting by having fish, wine and olive oil. On the two weekends which fall during the fast (Saturday and Sunday), the fast is relaxed a little bit, and we may have wine (or vodka for those so inclined!), and olive oil, but no fish.

Transfiguration

The celebration of the Transfiguration of our Lord falls on this coming Saturday. Those who are zealous and careful concerning their salivation, and not detained by necessity will celebrate the feast with vigil Friday evening at 6:30 PM, followed by divine Liturgy Saturday, and 10:00 AM.

Summary of the Dormition Fast

Aug 1/14 Mon

STRICT FAST

NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS, FISH, WINE, OLIVE OIL

Paraclesis
@Rectory 7:00 PM

Aug 2/15 Tue

STRICT FAST

NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS, FISH, WINE, OLIVE OIL

Paraclesis
@Rectory 7:00 PM
Aug 3/16 Wed

STRICT FAST

NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS, FISH, WINE, OLIVE OIL

Paraclesis
@Rectory 7:00 PM
Aug 4/17
Thu

STRICT FAST

NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS, FISH, WINE, OLIVE OIL

Paraclesis
@Rectory 6:30 PM
~7 PM - Choir Practice

Aug 5/18
Fri

STRICT FAST

NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS, FISH, WINE, OLIVE OIL

Vigil 6:30 PM

Aug 6/19 Sat
TRANSFIGUR-ATION

FESTAL
FAST

NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS BUT FI SH, WINE & OLIVE OIL MAY BE EATEN

Liturgy- 10:00 AM

Aug 7/20 Sun

WEEKEND
FAST

NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS & FISH BUT WINE & OLIVE OIL MAY BE EATEN

Aug 8/21 Mon

STRICT FAST

NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS, FISH, WINE, OLIVE OIL

Paraclesis
@Rectory 7:00 PM
Aug 9/22 Tue

STRICT FAST

NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS, FISH, WINE, OLIVE OIL

Paraclesis
@Rectory 7:00 PM
Aug 10/23
Wed

STRICT FAST

NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS, FISH, WINE, OLIVE OIL

Paraclesis
@Rectory 7:00 PM
Aug 11/24
Thu

STRICT FAST

NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS, FISH, WINE, OLIVE OIL

Paraclesis
@Rectory 7:00 PM

Aug 12/25
Fri

STRICT FAST

NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS, FISH, WINE, OLIVE OIL

Paraclesis
@Rectory 7:00 PM

Aug 13/26 Sat

WEEKEND
FAST

NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS & FISH BUT WINE & OLIVE OIL MAY BE EATEN

Aug 14/27
Sun
WEEKEND
FAST
NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS & FISH BUT WINE & OLIVE OIL MAY BE EATEN

Vigil 2:00 PM
Aug 15/27 Mon

DORMITION

NO FASTING

Questions about the Holy Prophet Elias

The Holy Prophet Elias is celebrated on July 20th (August 2 on the civil calendar)

Question 1
We hear nothing of the Holy Prophet Elias (a.k.a. Elijah), until, in a mysterious way, he appeared, subsequently, there would be other even more wondrous appearances and disappearances), made a bold pronouncement to an apostate king, which came true, during which this time, he lived by a brook, and was fed in a wondrous way.
In which book does the Holy Prophet Elias first appear?

If you did not have a Bible handy, but were in the church with all the service books available, where could you find the most important stories about the Holy Prophet, to answer these questions:
1. What appellation was given to the Holy Prophet? What does it mean?
2. Who was the king?
3. What did Elias tell the king, and why?
4. What was the brook?
5. How was the prophet fed in a wondrous way?
6. The Holy Prophet continually showed in his actions great zeal, great fearlessness and unconcern for his personal circumstances, because of his great faith in God. We stand in awe of his exploits and intimacy before God, and have much to learn from him. What does the order of events (the holy prophet first rebuking Achab, then foretelling a serious drought, and then being told where to go during the drought) teach us?

Question 2

During the drought the Holy Prophet lived by the brook as the Lord commanded him, until it dried up. Then the Lord told him to go to another place to meet a certain person, for his sustenance.
1. Who was this person?
2. Describe their meeting and the miracle that occurred.

Question 3

The Holy Prophet was much loved by the small family, who were his benefactors, and he stayed with them for a long while. "And it came to pass", as the Holy Scripture puts it, that a great calamity befell the family, and the Holy prophet worked a great miracle by the power of his bold prayer.
1. What was the calamity?
2. What was the reaction of the mother?
3. The Holy Prophet did more than pray. His actions mystically pointed to the cross and resurrection. How?

Question 4

We must yet tarry a little while on the great miracle of Elias regarding the widow's son. His successor also performed such a miracle, and in this case, the cross and resurrection were even more strongly and unmistakably prefigured. Describe this miracle.

How was the cross so strongly prefigured?

What do we mean by "prefigured" anyway?

What is a another word used to mean the same thing as a "prefigurement"?

Question 5

After the drought had lasted many days the Holy Prophet was told to again confront the apostate king. What were his bold denunciation and orders to the king? Describe Elias' great miracle, which put to shame the apostate followers of idols. What happened after this miracle?

Question 6

After the Holy Prophet brought rain and destroyed the prophets of Baal, he received a message. What was it, and what did he do? Elias became depressed. Why? What did the Lord do, and where did Elias go? What did the meals that he ate foreshadow? When he reached a certain place, God manifested Himself to him intimately. Describe the experience. Has it anything to teach us?

Question 7

There are many unique aspects to the life of the Prophet Elias (a.k.a. "Elijah"). He shares a very unique status with only three other human beings that have ever walked the earth. Who are the others, and what is this status?

Question 8

The holy Prophet Elias is known far and wide for his powerful intercessions, especially concerning which two things? Speculate why.

Question 9

"The angel in the flesh, the foundation of the prophets, the second forerunner of the Coming of Christ, the glorious Elijah from on High sent down grace upon Elisha to dispel infirmities and cleanse lepers. Wherefore, he poureth fourth healings upon them that honor him." Troparion for Elijah

The Holy Prophet is called in his troparion a "second forerunner of the Coming of Christ."
1. Why?
2. Who was the first forerunner of the coming of Christ?
3. Did the Jews understand this about Elias? What is the proof?

Question 10

Have the so-called Orthodox ecumenists of this age of compromise anything that they can learn from the Holy Prophet Elias? Do you think that his type of piety would offend them? Why or why not?

Questions about the Feeding of the 5000

Question 1

There are four accounts in the Gospels where a multitude are fed. Summarize in one sentence each occurrence, and state the Gospel it is found in. Extra credit: When are these various texts Read During the church year?
Question 2

The Church particularly values the spiritual truths presented in the "Feeding of the Five Thousand", so much so, that there is a service constructed around this event. What is it, and when is it served? Describe the service.
Question 3

Why did Jesus enter a ship and cross over the sea immediately after this miracle?
Question 4

According to the Fathers, what great virtue is taught by the sharing of the five loaves and two fishes, and the abundance left over?
Question 5

The Lord makes a point to tell the disciples, who are concerned for the people, and have asked Him to send them away to buy food: "They need not depart; give ye them to eat " Mat 14:16) What is the significance of this instruction?
Question 6

Jesus does a very simple thing before having the apostles distribute the food to the people, that we would do well to emulate at all times. What is it?
Question 7

There is a mystical meaning to the five thousand, and the five loaves and two fishes. What is it?
Question 8

There is an outer and inner meaning to the twelve baskets full. What is it?
Question 9

According to one account, the is miracle was the precursor to another teaching, wondrous to behold, about another kind of bread. Which?
Question 10

The Feeding of the five thousand occurred at what part of Jesus' ministry (early, in the middle, or late)?

Thoughts on the Feeding of the 5000, and Holy Prophet Elias

In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen1

Today is the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost, when we read about the feeding of the 5000. Today is also the day that we commemorate the Holy Prophet Elijah (or Elias). We hear of a great miracle in the feeding of the 5000. It's full of great inner meaning, because it really points to the Church very, very clearly2. I would like to talk about that, and we will, later, after trapeza,, but I would like to talk about even more about something else right now, a GREATER miracle. Christ has said to His disciples, "Greater things than these shall ye see."3, and indeed it is true. The great miracle I'm speaking of is one that is hidden in the Epistle for the Prophet Elias. It mentions him a little bit in the epistle - not very much, only a sentence or two, but a great miracle is hidden in the words, and it is not that rain came or didn't come for three and a half years.

It says, "Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months."4 This is the great miracle. It was not the drought, nor the rain after the drought, but a man with passions prayed fervently to God, and God heard him. Something that seemingly is impossible was asked for, to keep rain from falling. It might seem rather possible nowadays in Texas that this could happen5. To keep rain from falling from the sky? We have no ability to do that. That's not within our province. Can we heal the sick as is mentioned also in this Epistle of St. James? We don't have the ability to cure incurable diseases, to cleanse lepers. All these things are impossibilities to us. We don't have the ability.

The greatest miracle - the greatest miracle - that God works is when He changes a heart. And if you see your heart start to change, if you see yourself turning to God, even if it's only happening slowly, you can be assured that this is a greater miracle than raising the dead. God can raise the dead anytime He wants, but for a man to truly change, this involves great effort as well as God's grace. It is the greatest news, the best news there has ever been, that a heart CAN turn to God.

We celebrate Elias so extravagantly because he was a man of like passions as us. You read his story6. He was not perfect, no not al all. In fact, he showed great weakness even after he had performed perhaps the greatest of his signs, what most would call the greatest of his miracles. This was when he went and rebuked Achab, and had them set up two sacrifices, one for the priests of Baal (or Baalim) and one for the True God, he gave them a little wager: We will pray. You pray to your god and I will pray to mine, and no fire will be put underneath, and whichever holocaust is burned, He is God. The people said, 'that's a good proposition'. The priests of Baal prayed the entire day through the afternoon, and Elias mocked them with great fervor and with great bravery, because these were people who wanted to kill him, and there were many of them and he was few. Then we all know what happened. He prayed to God with faith. We are told that he was a man with passions now, a weak man. And the entire sacrifice, and the twelve stones, and the water and everything, the dust, the stones and dirt was all consumed by the fire of the Lord. And then the rain came and during this time of the rain coming, Jezebel, that name which will live in infamy, sent him a message saying my 'gods will do this to me and more besides if I don't have you dead by this time tomorrow.' And what happened to Elias? He was afraid. It says right in the Scriptures, he was afraid. So - yes, he has passions just like us, weaknesses just like us.

It doesn't matter how weak a man is, not if he has faith in God. This was just a slight misstep for the prophet, because a scant 40 days later, God appeared to him in the cave - not in the wind, not in the earthquake, not in the fire -but in the still, small voice. Elias was very worthy of receiving this; it didn't matter that he had weaknesses.

Emulate Elias. Not his fear. We don't emulate the saints when they are weak. We emulate their strengths, and this is a man with many strengths, great fervor, great love for God, and because of that, he could pray and that which is impossible would happen. Now each one of us, from my experience as a confessor, I tell you, each one of us has something we consider to be impossible in our life. If you pray with fervor it will no longer be impossible. You've got to believe this. Despite the fact that there is so much evidence in the life of the Church, we find it difficult to really believe this. This is why we celebrate the saints, that so magnificently show what faith can do. Whether it is stopping the heavens and starting them again, or whether it is consuming a burnt offering that is soaked in water, or whether it is giving up one's life even in the bloom of youth, such as St. Marina did, who was celebrated just a few days ago, this is from God changing a heart.
God can change your heart. It will take an effort from you, though. If you're lazy, your heart won't change. You'll never believe. You'll never really believe. What a tragedy. We read in the Scriptures of these exploits of the saints, and is it going to be for us like watching a movie? Watching a movie about, let's say, the Everglades, but never being there? Never experiencing it? Never understanding what it's like to be there? The exploits of the saints are not a movie or a book for us. They are a way of life and they lead us, if we follow the path, to the greatest of miracles - our heart changing. Truly it excites me to think of the saints. They are our destiny, you know. God has shown in them what we will be like if we follow, if we live according to faith. Even the ones that sin grievously sometimes, eh? Even like David who combined two sins in one, adultery and murder. And so many of the other saints that had difficulty in their lives. But they also had great faith. We must exercise that faith, brothers and sisters. You must believe that you can be changed. If you believe this, then God will change you. It's going to take some effort on your part. It's going to take some pain as well, because there are things that we like that we don't want to let go of. We hold onto them. We get dragged along the ground with the wild horses that are our passions, but we don't let go of the rope. But the first and foremost thing you must do if you are to conquer your passions - you must believe that they can be conquered. This is just another way of saying that you must believe in the resurrection.

May God help you to truly have this belief, to truly know that the purpose of your life is an intimate knowledge with God. That is your destiny. It is the purpose of your being, and it is possible. Through the prayers of the Holy Prophet Elias may we have firm, real, living faith in our Savior. Amen.
Bibliography:
* Questions and Answers about St Elijah: http://www.orthodox.net/questoins/elias_1.htm
* The end of Third Kings, and part of Fourth Kings

Gleanings from the Fathers

Who wins?
It is not the clever, the noble, the polished speakers, or the rich who win, but whoever is insulted and forbears, whoever is wronged and forgives, whoever is slandered and endures, whoever becomes a sponge and mops up whatever they might say to him. Such a person is cleansed and polished even more. He reaches great heights. He delights in the theoria of mysteries. And finally, it is he who is already inside paradise, while still in this life.

Monastic Wisdom: The Letters of Elder Joseph the Hesychast.

Do you really love God?
The person who truly loves God and Christ, even though he may perform a thousand good works, considers himself as having done nothing because of his insatiable longing for the Lord. Even if he should tear down the body with fasts and vigils, he considers himself as though he had never even yet begun to develop virtues. Although various gifts of the Spirit or even revelations and heavenly mysteries may be given to him, he believes that he has acquired nothing because of his immense and insatiable love for the Lord. But daily he perseveres in prayer with a hungering and a thirst in faith and love. He has an insatiable desire for the mysteries of grace and for every virtue. He is wounded with love for the heavenly Bridegroom through grace which he has dwelling within himself.
St. Macarius, Spiritual Homily 10.4

True patience

True patience consists in bearing calmly the evils others do to us, and in not being consumed by resentment against those who inflict them. Those who only appear to bear the evils done them by their neighbors, who suffer them in silence while they are looking for an opportunity for revenge, are not practicing patience, but only make a show of it. Paul writes that 'love is patient and kind.' It is patient in bearing the evils done to us by others, and it is kind in even loving those it bears with. Jesus himself tells us: 'Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who persecute and calmniate you.' Virtue in the sight of others is to bear with those who oppose us, but virtue in God's sight is to love them. This is the only sacrifice acceptable to God.
St. Gregory the Great, Be Friends of God.

Answers to Questions about the Holy Prophet Elias

Answer 1

In the 17th chapter of the Third Book of Kings, the Holy Prophet Elias appears, being called only "Elias the Tishbite (or, Thesbite), of the inhabitants of Galaad". The word "Tishbite" is interpreted "that makes captive", and most probably indicated the place of the Holy Prophet's birth. Josephus, the Jewish Historian, supposes that "Tishbi" was some place in the land of Giliead. (See Easton's Bible Dictionary)
The Holy Prophet boldly rebuked the apostate king Achab, who had married the pagan Jezebel, and submitted, for the sake of her charms, to idolatry:

"And Achab, the son of Amri, did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him.{31} Nor was it enough for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam, the son of Nabat: but he also took to wife Jezabel, daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians. And he went, and served Baal, and adored him. {32} And he set up an altar for Baal, in the temple of Baal, which he had built in Samaria; {33} And he planted a grove: and Achab did more to provoke the Lord, the God of Israel, than all the kings of Israel that were before him." (3 Kings:16:30-33, Douay-Reims)
The Holy Prophet warned him that a drought would occur, because of Achabs' wickedness. During the first portion of the drought, the Holy Prophet lived by the brook Cherith, where he was fed by ravens:
And Elias the Thesbite, of the inhabitants of Galaad, said to Achab: As the Lord liveth, the God of Israel, in whose sight I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to the words of my mouth. {2} And the word of the Lord came to him, saying: {3} Get thee hence, and go towards the east, and hide thyself by the torrent of Carith, which is over against the Jordan; {4} And there thou shalt drink of the torrent: and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there. ... {6} And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the torrent. (3 Kings:17:1-4,6 Douay-Reims)
The most important stories concerning the Holy Prophet Elias are read during the Vespers service commemorating him, and is therefore found in the Menaion for July 20. Throughout his life, Elias showed utter disdain for his personal circumstances and safety, and he was unafraid to tell the truth, even to those who could kill him. He foretold a great drought, with his righteous anger obscuring from him even his own bodily needs, and the Lord did not abandon his chosen one, but led him to the brook Cherith, to feed him with ravens. We see this pattern throughout the Prophet's life. He acts according to zeal, and the Lord protects him, rewarding his great faith. We must also strive to have such zeal and faith, and stand in the truth only, obeying the words of our Savior: "Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? {32} (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. {33} But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Mat 6:31-33)
Take courage, Christian. Don't compromise your faith because of fear, whether for your position or job, or title, or comfort, or anything else.

Answer 2

"After the brook Cherith dried up, the Lord said: "Arise, and go to Sarephta of the Sidonians, and dwell there: for I have commanded a widow woman there to feed thee." 3 Kings 17:9

This set the stage for the wondrous dialogue between the poverty stricken woman who, with her only son, expected to die, and the Holy Prophet, and teaches us much about the virtues of obedience and hospitality.
"He arose, and went to Sarephta. And when he was come to the gate of the city, he saw the widow woman gathering sticks, and he called her, and said to her: Give me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. {11} And when she was going to fetch it, he called after her, saying: Bring me also, I beseech thee, a morsel of bread in thy hand. {12} And she answered: As the Lord thy God liveth, I have no bread, but only a handful of meal in a pot, and a little oil in a cruise: behold I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it, for me and my son, that we may eat it and die. {13} And Elias said to her: Fear not; but go, and do as thou hast said but first make for me of the same meal a little hearth cake, and bring it to me, and after make for thyself and thy son. {14} For thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel: The pot of meal shall not waste, nor the cruise of oil be diminished, until the day wherein the Lord will give rain upon the face of the earth. {15} She went, and did according to the word of Elias: and he ate, and she, and her house: and from that day {16} The pot of meal wasted not, and the cruise of oil was not diminished according to the word of the Lord, which he spoke in the hand of Elias." (3 Kings 17:9-16)
I believe Holy Tradition holds that the widow's son was none other than St Jonah, the prophet.

Answer 3

While Elias was staying with the widow and her son, the boy fell grievously ill and died. The woman believed that it was because of her sins that the boy had died. What a piteous scene! The family had only just been saved from starvation by the Holy Prophet, and now the woman has lost her only son. Elias took her son and went into his room. In the heat of his own grief, with compassion for the widow, he cried out to the Lord: "...O Lord, my God, hast thou afflicted also the widow, with whom I am after a sort maintained, so as to kill her son?" (3 Kings 17:20) Now we are vouchsafed to see a great miracle, and the power of sincere prayer, and a prophesy of the power of the cross:
And he stretched, and measured himself upon the child three times, and cried to the Lord, and said: O Lord, my God, let the soul of this child, I beseech thee, return into his body. {22} And the Lord heard the voice of Elias: and the soul of the child returned into him, and he revived." (3 Kings 17:21-22)
We worship the same God as Elias. Why are our prayers so weak, and why do we ask for so little? He saw only in a figure the redemption of the cross, and we have had it revealed to us fully. The Holy Paul certainly included Elias among those great ones of God whose exploits in turn rebuke and exhort us:
"And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: {40} God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect. {12:1}Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, {2} Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.(Heb 11:39-40,12:1-2)
Through the prayers of the Holy Prophet Elias, may we live as believers in the redemption of the cross!

Answer 4

The Lord chose Elisha to be the successor of the Holy Prophet Elias. This holy prophet also worked a miracle that even more strongly prefigures the resurrection, and prophesies that our redemption will come through the cross. A "prefigurement" is an event which occurs in the Old Testament and points to an event in the New Testament. It is also called a "type". Another example of a "type" is when Moses struck his staff in the bitter waters, and they were made sweet (drinkable). This also is a prefigurement of the cross, which will make "sweet" our life which would without the cross end in bitter death. There are hundreds of examples in the Old Testament, which the Holy Church understands and meditates upon in the holy services. In fact, the best way to become a true scholar of the Old Testament is to listen attentively to the services of the church, which always understand it in the light of the New!
The Holy Elisha worked an even greater miracle than Elias. He was often a guest at the house of a Shunamite woman who was barren. Through his prayers, she conceived and bore a son. When the lad was a young boy, though able to work with his father in the fields, he took sick suddenly and died. The woman immediately saddled her ass and rode to Mount Carmel, where the prophet was living. Although the prophet sent Gehazi, his servant, to lay his staff upon the boy, he did not revive. This staff represents the Old Covenant, which is not able to give life.
In the meantime, Elisha had followed the Shunamite woman back to her home, at her insistence. In the miracle of the son's resurrection, we see clearly the type of the cross:
"Eliseus, therefore, went into the house, and behold the child lay dead on his bed: {33} And going in, he shut the door upon him, and upon the child, and prayed to the Lord. {34} And he went up, and lay upon the child: and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and he bowed himself upon him, and the child's flesh grew warm. {35} Then he returned and walked in the house, once to and fro: and he went up, and lay upon him: and the child gaped seven times, and opened his eyes." 4 Kings:4:32-35
The staff represents the Old Covenant, which is superceded by the New and brought in by the cross, which Elisha clearly prefigured by laying upon the boy in the form of a cross. (Read the entire story in 4 Kings 4:1-37)

Answer 5

"After many days, the word of the Lord came to Elias, in the third year, saying: Go, and shew thyself to Achab, that I may give rain upon the face of the earth. " (3 Kings18:1)
On the way to Achab, Elias met Abidias, the governor of Achab's house, who had been sent to forage for feed and water for the livestock. There ensued a rather funny discussion between them, as Elias asked Abidias to announce his coming to Achab, but the servant feared doing this because:
"And when I am gone from thee, the Spirit of the Lord will carry thee into a place that I know not: and I shall go in and tell Achab; and he, not finding thee, will kill me: but thy servant feareth the Lord from his infancy. {13} Hath it not been told thee, my lord, what I did when Jezabel killed the prophets of the Lord; how I hid a hundred men of the prophets of the Lord, by fifty and fifty in caves, and fed them with bread and water? {14} And now thou sayest: Go and tell thy master: Elias is here: that he may kill me. (3 Kings 18:12-14)
Elias prevailed upon Abdias to announce him, and came to Achab, who immediately denounced the Holy Prophet, blaming him for the drought. The Holy prophet fearlessly denounced the king because of his idolatry, and ordered him to gather people together, setting the stage for a great miracle.

"And when he had seen him, he said: Art thou he that troublest Israel? {18} And he said: I have not troubled Israel, but thou and thy father's house, who have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and have followed Baalim. {19}Nevertheless send now, and gather unto me all Israel, unto Mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, who eat at Jezabel's table." (3 Kings 18:17-19)
The Holy Prophet then rebuked the people and challenged the "prophets of Baal" (pagan priests):
"And Elias coming to all the people, said: How long do you halt between two sides? If the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people did not answer him a word. {22} And Elias said again to the people: I only remain a prophet of the Lord: but the prophets of Baal are four hundred and fifty men. {23} Let two bullocks be given us, and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it upon wood, but put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under it. {24} Call ye on the names of your gods, and I will call on the name of my Lord: and the God that shall answer by fire, let him be God. And all the people answering, said: A very good proposal." (3 Kings 18:21-24)
The Holy Prophet had a flair for the dramatic, as well as great zeal. He gave the pagan priest the first opportunity to prove that their "god" was better. They prayed from the morning until the "time of the giving of sacrifice", and even cut themselves with knives and wailed, to no avail. In the middle of their fruitless gesticulations, Elias, with great humor told them:
"... Cry with a louder voice: for he is a god; and perhaps he is talking, or is in an inn, or on a journey; or perhaps he is asleep, and must be awaked. " (18:27)
Near the end of the day, the prophet called to people unto him, and did a very strange thing, showing that he not only possessed a sublime sense of humor, but also a flair for the dramatic. He built an altar of twelve stones, for the twelve tribes of Israel, and dug a trench to contain water. After cutting up the bullock and placing it on the altar, he did a very strange thing:
"18:34. And he said: Fill four buckets with water, and pour it upon the burnt offering, and upon the wood. And again he said: Do the same the second time. And when they had done it the second time, he said: Do the same also the third time. And they did so the third time. {35} And the water run round about the altar, and the trench was filled with water." (18:34-35)
Elias then prayed to the Lord, and:
"Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the holocaust, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. " (18:38)
After this, understandably the people believed in the Lord, and Elias ordered that all the prophets of Baal be immediately slain.

Answer 6

After the prophets were killed, the pagan queen Jezebel sent Elias a message telling him she would not rest until he was dead:
"And Jezabel sent a messenger to Elias, saying: Such and such things may the gods do to me, and add still more, if by this hour to morrow I make not thy life as the life of one of them." (19:12)
Elias, the holy prophet, as a man felt fear, and fled from Jezebel. He went into the desert, and cast himself down by a Juniper tree, and desired to die, because he knew that all of Israel was in the throes of apostasy, and he could not bear to endure anymore.
"And he went forward, one day's journey into the desert. And when he was there, and sat under a juniper tree, he requested for his soul that he might die, and said: It is enough for me, Lord; take away my soul: for I am no better than my fathers." (19:4)
The prophet was fed two times by an angel, with bread and water, then commenced to take a forty day journey across the desert to Mount Horeb. This bread foreshadows the "heavenly bread", which empowers a man to do anything, if he has faith.
Upon arriving at the cave, Elias renewed his complaint to the Lord:
"And when he was come thither, he abode in a cave. and behold the word of the Lord came unto him, and he said to him: What dost thou here, Elias? {10} And he answered: With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant: they have thrown down thy altars, they have slain thy prophets with the sword, and I alone am left, and they seek my life to take it away." (19:9-20)
Then the Lord revealed Himself to the Holy Prophet, in a still small voice:
" {11} And he said to him: Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord: and behold the Lord passeth, and a great and strong wind before the Lord, overthrowing the mountains, and breaking the rocks in pieces: but the Lord is not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake: but the Lord is not in the earthquake. {12} And after the earthquake, a fire: but the Lord is not in the fire. And after the fire, a whistling of a gentle air. {13. And when Elias heard it, he covered his face with his mantle, and coming forth, stood in the entering in of the cave, and behold a voice unto him, saying: What dost thou here, Elias? And he answered: {14} With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of hosts: because the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant: they have destroyed thy altars, they have slain thy prophets with the sword; and I alone am left, and they seek my life to take it away. {15} And the Lord said to him: Go, and return on thy way, through the desert, to Damascus: and when thou art come thither, thou shalt anoint Hazael to be king over Syria; {16} And thou shalt anoint Jehu, the son of Namsi, to be king over Israel: and Eliseus, the son of Saphat, of Abelmeula, thou shalt anoint to be prophet in thy room."
St. Elias only heard the Lord when he was still and quiet. We can only hear him when our passions are stilled and quieted.

Answer 7

The Holy Prophet Elias was taken up from the earth in a fiery chariot, hence, he did not die a natural death, as it is wont for all flesh to do. He shares this distinction with Enoch, of whom the scripture states: And he walked with God, and was seen no more: because God took him." (Genesis 5:24). Enoch and Elias abide in the heavens with two others who have flesh, albeit in a perfected state, namely, Jesus Christ the God-man, who deified his flesh by rising from the dead and ascending into heaven, and His most pure mother, who died as anyone else must, but was taken up into the heavens by her son.

Answer 8

The church prays to the Prophet Elias to alleviate drought, and bring rain, since by his prayers the rains were stopped, and by his prayers they came again. His intercessions are also a powerful aid to the sick, as the resurrection of the widow's son proves unmistakably. The church's experience, has confirmed again and again, and her services, for those who listen, teach this clearly.
"O prophet, preacher of Christ, thou dost never depart from the throne of Majesty, and ever intercedest for every one afflicted with sickness. Ministering in the highest, glorified in all places, thou dost bless the whole world. Ask thou for cleansing for our souls" (Glory, at the Aposticha, service for St Elias, July 7)
"The angel in the flesh, the foundation of the prophets, the second forerunner of the Coming of Christ, the glorious Elijah from on High sent down grace upon Elisha to dispel infirmities and cleanse lepers. Wherefore, he poureth fourth healings upon them that honor him" Troparion for Elijah

Answer 9

Just as the Holy Baptizer of Christ, John, heralded the first coming of Christ, when He came meekly, as a servant, so the glorious Elias will herald the second coming of Christ, when He will come in al power and majesty, as a King, swiftly, from the Mount of Olives. The church knows that both Enoch and Elias will come back to the earth in it's very last days, and preach Christ. They will be slain by the antichrist, and lay in the streets for three days, after which the Lord will come and usher in the New, unwaning age.
The Jews of Jesus' day certainly understood this about Elias, although they were confused, and thought that perhaps Christ himself was Elias: "When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? {14} And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. " (Mat 16:13-14)

Answer 10

The Holy Prophet Elias burned with zeal for the truth, and this zeal made him never consider compromise with falsehood. In our day, Orthodox compromise the truth with regularity, first by being wishy washy about where the church is, and where it is not. Sometimes they compromise the truth because of fear, and oftentimes because of desire for political or material gain, or because of an unwholesome, ignorant pursuit for "unity", which they mistakenly equate as the only indicator of true love. Their apostate way of thinking has even led some to worship in services with pagans. Their actions have even been captured on video tape, and their words have been printed, for all with eyes to see.
Here is one small example. The Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew, is attempting union with the Papist Roman Catholics, but this union is not being pursued in truth. Instead of teaching them where they have erred, and making it clear to them that they have fallen away from the truth, he uses Byzantine flattery which clearly shows that he fully accepts that they are members of the church of Christ, ignoring the clear teaching of the church that obdurate heretics are anathema (outside the church). Here is a portion from a recent speech by one of the Patriarch's operatives, on the sad occasion of yet another concelebration of the Orthodox and the Papists, during their celebration in Rome of the Feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul:
"It is indeed for the sake of this sacred cause of unity that our two churches are officially engaged in theological dialogue so that on the basis of their common heritage of the first thousand years of the Church's life they may remove the obstacles to full communion that have appeared since the tragic Schism which has separated us for almost a millennium now. The bitter experience of this long period of separation has made us all aware of the need to accelerate the process of restoring our full communion so that the approaching third millennium of the Christian era may find the Church of God visibly united as she was before the great Schism. As Your Holiness has aptly put it some years ago, East and West are the two lungs by which the Church breaths; their unity is essential to the healthy life of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. (emphasis F.S.)" (Metropolitan John Of Pergamon, speech in Rome, on the occasion of the (Latin) Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, June 29, 1998. This speech was distributed via the "Orthodox News mailing list" (majordomo@list.goarch.org), and is also available at http://www.goarch.org/worldnews.)

I hope everyone can recognize the heresy and accommodation to falsehood in these words. Anyone who understands the Holy Prophet Elias would know that he would not be welcome in such an assembly. The only way to stand for the truth fearlessly is to live in it. May the ecumenists come to their senses, and stand for the truth, instead of uttering false and oily platitudes, through the prayers of the Holy Prophet Elias.

Answers To Questions About The Feeding Of The 5000

Answer 1

In the Gospel of St. Matthew, the "Feeding of the Five Thousand" is recounted, where a multitude of 5000 men "besides women and children", were fed by Christ, who multiplied five loaves of bread and two fishes to the extent that all were satisfied, and the apostles collected twelve baskets of leftovers. (Matthew 14:14-22)
In the Gospel of St. Mark, two separate events are described. The feeding of the five thousand is recounted in Mark 6:32-42. A wholly separate miracle, recorded in Mark only, tells of four thousand who are fed from seven loaves and a few small fishes, after which seven baskets of left over food are collected. (Mark 8:1-10)
St. Luke recounts the feeding of the five thousand in much the same way as St. Matthew, providing the additional detail that the apostles were told to make the men sit "by fifties" in the grass. (Luke 9:7-18)
In the Gospel of St. John, the same feeding of the Five Thousand is recounted, with the additional detail being provided that the bread was barley loaves. (John 6:3-14)
* Matthew 14:14-22 is read on the 8th Sunday After Pentecost
* Mark 6:30-45 is read on the 15th Thursday after Pentecost
* Mark 8:1-10 is read on the 16th Friday after Pentecost
* Luke 9:7-18 is read on the 21st Thursday after Pentecost

Answer 2

The service of Litya is served at most Vigil services (although, in current practice, alas, not at most Saturday evening Vigils), after Great Vespers, and immediately before Matins, or in some cases, when the Vigil consists of Great Compline and Matins, (such as the Nativity of the Savior, and Theophany), after Great Compline.
It consists of long prayers, asking God, by the intercession of many named Holy ones, for mercy. The prayers are chanted by the priest (or deacon), and answered by the faithful with various numbers of "Lord have mercy", sung to sweet melody. The service is conducted in front of a table, on which are placed 5 loaves of bread, and small vessels filled with wheat, wine and oil. This table is usually in front of an icon of the Saint or event being commemorated. In Russian practice, the clergy stand at the entrance to the nave, by the narthex, when the long prayers are intoned, then move in front of the table, which is in the center of the church, when the Aposticha are sung. After the Aposticha hymns, sung in sticheric melody, the troparion (troparia) of the feast is sung (3 times), while the table is censed round about on all four sides three successive times. At the conclusion of the troparia, the priest blesses "these loaves, wheat, wine and oil". The bread and wine are brought into the altar, are cut up, and dipped in the wine, for the faithful to partake of after the Gospel reading at Matins.
In earlier, more zealous times, this food was the only sustenance the people had for the All Night Vigil, which went on all night, ending with the Divine Liturgy in the early morning.

Answer 3

The people saw Christ's miracle in a military context. They wanted to make him king, mount an army (which would have no trouble with provisions), and drive back the hated Romans. St. John states this plainly:
"When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone." (John 6:15)
Christ avoided this by leaving the area. When the Pharisees caught up with Him, it is evident, as recounted in St. John's Gospel, that they did not understand the implications of the miracle, as Christ told them:
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed." (John 6:26-27)

Answer 4

Blessed Theophylact comments that our Lord's command to the disciples to "give them to eat" even when there was so little is a clear command to the Christian to exercise hospitality.
Such love will be abundantly rewarded, as the twelve baskets full show, although this reward may be in the next life, for we are told elsewhere that "great is your reward in heaven" (Mat 5:12), and "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal." (Mat 6:19-20)

Answer 5

The Lord gave authority to His apostles, and through them, to the entire church, and their successors, the bishops. We are "given to eat" from the mellifluous flow of their teachings, and the entire mind of the church. Nothing in the Christian life is out of the context of life in the church, and obedience to what we have been taught, from Christ to the Apostles and the Apostles to us. The account given in St. Luke, where the apostles are told to organize the men in "fifties", further illustrates the organization of the divine organism of the body of Christ, the church. He who is not in a group of fifty, obedient to the teachings of the church, which are life, because they have preserved the words and teaching of the one Who is life, is outside of the church. Perhaps such a one is at the base of the mountain, from which Jesus did teach before feeding the people, but he is not on the grass, partaking of the bread of life.
He who has eyes to see, let him see. He who has ears to hear, let him hear, and not be offended unto his own death.

Answer 6

"... and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude." (Mat 14:19, partial)
Before we do any task, or eat any food, we must ask God's blessing upon it. This is why Orthodox Christians make the sign of the cross so readily. We ask God's blessing in all that we do. Without this blessing, we cannot expect our actions to be of good effect.
"He looks up to heaven and blesses the loaves, as if both to confirm that He is not opposed to God but that He came from the Father and from heaven, and also to teach us to give thanks when wee begin a meal and only then to eat" (Blessed Theophylact, commentary of St. Matthew)

Answer 7

According to blessed Theophylact: "The five thousand are those who are sick in their five senses, and who are healed by the five loaves".
Our Lord heals the whole man, all five senses denoting the totality of our physical being, and by extension, our whole essence, including our soul which is diseased and in need of healing.
Blessed Theophylact continues to explain that the two fish are the words of the fisherman, preeminently contained in the gospels and epistles. In additions, some have understood the five loaves to signify the Pentateuch of Moses (the first five books of the Old Testament)

Answer 8

The leftovers were abundant, and there were twelve apostles called upon to gather them up, in twelve baskets. We see that God will provide for us abundantly, if we only trust in Him. Blessed Theophylact explains that even Judas the unworthy one was called upon to fulfill this task, so that "thus remembering the miracle (he would not) rush headlong into betrayal".
The mystical meaning is very profound, and important. We are poor people, with limited understanding. We fall on our own, but are saved if we become part of the mind of the church, through our actions and beliefs. We are unable to assimilate on our own divine truth, if we do not submit to those who know the truth, the church.
"Twelve baskets were lifted up and carried by the apostles; for whatever we, the multitude, are unable to eat, that is, to understand, the apostles carried and held, that is, they accepted and understood". (Blessed Theophylact, commentary of St. Matthew)
The Christian who wishes to be saved would do well to be humble himself, and lean not on his own understanding, and look to the church for guidance in all things. May you, O reader, find the repository of all truth, and be fed continually from the bread of life, held in the baskets which you have neither the strength or knowledge to hold on your own.

Answer 9

After He fed the five thousand, and His apostles crossed over the sea in a ship, in which He joined them halfway into their voyage by walking upon the water, Jesus was met by the unbelieving Pharisees, and another multitude. Then He expounded those words which are sweet to the believer and terrible and unbelievable to the carnal man. He is the Bread of Life.
"Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." (John 6:32-25)
"I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." (John 6:48-51)
Then, as now, these words were hard to behold, and require a man to truly believe in Him Who said them.
"The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? {53} Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. {54} Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. {55} For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. {56} He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. {57} As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. {58} This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever." (John 6:52-58)
Do you, O reader, believe the words spoken plainly by our Lord? These very words were understood from the beginning by the apostles (after their enlightenment by the Holy Spirit), and have been in the mind of the church ever since. Are you in one of the groups of fifties, partaking of this bread, or do you subscribe to a foreign interpretation, and invention, unknown even to those outside the church for over a thousand years?

Answer 10

Immediately after the beheading of the honorable Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John, Jesus departed into a desert place. Blessed Bede believes that this was 1 year before His passion.

"Redeeming the Time" is an almost weekly Journal of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, Dallas Texas. Distribute this text if you wish, but only if attribution and all contact information are included. I would appreciate being contacted if any large-scale use of this text is desired. All unsigned or unattributed portions (c) 1999 Fr Seraphim Holland. All rights reserved
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1 This homily was transcribed from one given On July 20th, 1998 according to the church calendar, being the eighth Sunday after Pentecost, and the day appointed for the commemoration the Holy Prophet Elijah. It is hoped that something in these words will help and edify the reader, but a sermon read from a page cannot enlighten a soul as much as attendance and reverent worship at the Vigil service, which prepares the soul for the Holy Liturgy, and the hearing of the scriptures and the preaching of them in the context of the Holy Divine Liturgy. In such circumstances the soul is enlightened much more than when words are read on a page.
2 See Questions and Answers about the Feeding of the 5000, at http://www.orthodox.net/questions/five_thousand.htm
3 Cf. John 1:50
4 James 5:17
5 There was a drought at the time.
6 For much information about St Elias, see http://www.orthodox.net/questions/elias_1.htm

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