Feast of the Descent of the Holy Spirit
May 19, 2013
John 20:21-23 - Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld." (ESV - Gospel at Matins)
The Breath of Life - Theodore of Mopsuestia (A.D. 350-428) teaches that after Jesus breathed on them he mentioned the Spirit. Why? So that his disciples would believe that the body was made imperishable through the resurrection because of the power of the Spirit. He said to them, you must truly believe in what has been said to you and must have no doubts about the resurrection. You must not reject the honor of the apostolate because you are scared of being sent as messengers of a new doctrine into the world. You will indeed receive the effect of the Spirit, which, at the right time, will confer on you resurrection and immortality.
Through the Spirit you will receive - in this life - an amazing, supernatural strength to perform unheard-of-miracles by a mere word. You will be able to face any afflictions that may befall you because of those who oppose your preaching. And even though there were many other things to be accomplished in them through the Spirit, without mentioning them he mentioned the most important argument of all. Here, he says, is what will clearly demonstrate to you the strength of the Spirit. Indeed, as soon as you receive it you will be able to absolve the sins of whomever you want, as well as to pronounce a sentence of condemnation against anyone. If you, a man, after receiving the gift of the Spirit, will be able to do all these things that are of God – indeed, only he has the power to judge – I leave you to consider what the effectiveness of the Spirit is. Once you have received it you must no longer doubt. (Adapted from Theodore' of Mopsuesita's commentary on John)
Still no word on kidnapped Orthodox prelates in Syria
- Created on 08 May 2013
CWN - Church leaders in Syria have not been able to establish the whereabouts of two Orthodox bishops who were kidnapped on April 22, or to understand the motive for the abductions.
“We are groping in the dark,” admitted Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart of Aleppo. The Melkite Catholic archdiocese has been seeking to make contact with the kidnappers—to date, without success. Orthodox Church leaders have remained quiet about the matter, hoping to avoid the spread of false or alarming stories.
Archbishop Jeanbart reports that the continuing civil war in Syria has strained the resources of the people in Aleppo, causing shortages of food, fuel, and other resources. With electrical and internet service breaking down, the only communication with the outside world is by cell phones, he said.
Syria: ‘prayers mingled with tears’ at Easter
- Created on 07 May 2013
CWN - Easter, which was celebrated on May 5 on the Julian calendar, was a time of continued weeping for Syria’s Christians, according to the Chaldean Catholic bishop of Aleppo, the nation’s largest city. The Syriac Orthodox and Greek Orthodox archbishops of Aleppo were kidnapped on April 22, following the abduction of two priests in February.
“They sang, ‘Christ is risen,’ and while repeating those words of joy and victory, they all had tears in their eyes,” said Bishop Antoine Audo, SJ. “All their prayers mingled with their tears.”
“Everyone is wondering what will become of the bishops and priests,” he continued. “The time that goes by is not a good sign.”
“The daily struggle for survival also prevents one from having a clear overall perception with regard to the ongoing conflict, the consequences of Israeli air raids and the dangers of contagion at a regional scale,” he added. “We are often with no electricity, no water … As president of Caritas, I spend all the time receiving people who are looking for help. And I also had to cancel every transfer from Aleppo, because every movement has become dangerous.”