Seraphim of Chicago and Detroit
"During These Bright Days We Should Think More Often
of Our Savior, Learn More About Him"
the Wednesday of Mid-Pentecost, that is, the halfway mark of the
celebration of Pascha, which lasts for 40 days, until the holiday
of the Ascension of the Lord.
light shines long for Christians who desire to be illumined and
sanctified by it. During these bright days we should think more
often of our Savior, learn more about Him. Of course, all the
important things about our Lord Jesus Christ are written in the
Holy Gospel and the Epistles. Virtually everyone has this book,
but most of us rarely open it. Is this not so? Well, we did read
it once… Everything in it we already know. But of course this
is not so, for spiritual persons have through experience learned
that the more this great book of life is read, the more Divine
secrets are opened to us.
book contains only a portion of what the Savior did and said during
His earthly life. This is clearly witnessed by Holy Apostle John
the Theologian at the end of his Gospel, in which he writes: "And
there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if
they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world
itself could not contain the books that should be written."
And so lovers
of the Word of God often carefully gathered the deeds and words
of Christ the Savior from all available sources unrecorded in
Holy Scripture. Such compendia are called "Agrapha,"
which is Greek for "unwritten." Recently I came across
one such book written in our day and published in Poland in the
Russian language in 1938. This book is exceedingly interesting,
and I wish to share at least some of its spiritual treasures.
all it must be said that there is no reason to doubt the authenticity
of these words of Christ unwritten in Holy Scripture. They are
not taken from the Apocrypha, that is, the accounts of Jesus Christ
not recognized by the Church, but from the extant writings of
the Holy Fathers of the first centuries of Christianity.
a few words of Christ not contained in the Gospel can be found
in the Acts of the Holy Apostles written down by St Luke the Gospel
writer, or in the epistles of Apostle Paul. For instance: "It
is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35).
of Christ are also almost universally known: "Let not the
sun go down upon your wrath," and they are not in the Gospel,
but in the Epistle of Apostle Paul to the Ephesians, Chapter 4,
verse 26. There are many such citations, I will not speak of them
further, but refer those who are interested to the New Testament.
I wish to
bring up a few remarkable words whose authenticity is confirmed
by the Apostles. Many of you often hear in church, during sermons
and in private conversations on spiritual topics the words of
Christ: 'In whatsoever things I shall take you, in these I shall
judge you." They are not found in the New Testament. But
the Church deems them to be the genuine words of Christ. The great
Apostle, St Justin the Philosopher recorded them in his dialog
Here is a
wonderful moment from the appearance of Christ to his relative,
James, preserved for us by St Jerome, the famous translator of
Holy Scripture from the Greek into Latin, called the "Vulgate."
In the New
Testament, Apostle Paul, in his first Epistle to the Corinthians,
Chapter 15, verse 7, speaks very laconically: "After that,
he was seen of James; then of all the apostles."
Here is what
Blessed Jerome reports on this event on the basis of ancient manuscripts
he found: "The Lord…went to James and appeared before him.
For James had sworn that he would not eat bread from the moment
that he drank of the Lord's chalice until he would see Him arisen
from the dead… Said the Lord: 'Bring a table and some bread."
Taking the bread and blessing it, He gave it to Jerome the Just
and said: 'My brother, eat your bread, for the Son of Adam has
been raised from among those who sleep.'"
not truly a remarkable complement to the words of Apostle Paul?
important words of Christ are given to us by Holy Apostle Barnabas
of the Seventy in his epistle, which is considered authoritative
by the Church:
who wish to behold Me, and lay hold of My kingdom, must through
tribulation and suffering obtain Me."
Alexandria, as well as Origen, cite the following commandment
of Christ as authentic: "Seek what is great and the little
things shall be added; seek what is heavenly and earthly things
shall be given to you."
this is a paraphrase of the great words of the Gospel: "But
seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all
these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33); but
what an interesting paraphrase!
words of consolation of the Savior were found in Egypt in 1897,
which are considered in theological science to be a "proto-Gospel":
who is alone, there am I with him." These remarkable words
were preserved for us by St Ephrem the Syrian in his writings.
Here is an
interesting addition to the story of the wealthy youth, recorded
in the books of Matthew, Mark and Luke:
words of Christ to sell his possessions and distributing his money
to the poor, the rich youth began to fret, and he was not pleased
by this. And the Lord said to him: "How can you say, I have
fulfilled the law and the prophets, when it is written in the
law: You shall love your neighbor as yourself and many of your
brothers, sons of Abraham, are covered with filth, dying of hunger,
and your house is full of many good things, none of which goes
out to them?” And He turned and said to Simon, his disciple, who
was sitting by Him, “Simon, son of Jonah, it is easier for a camel
to go through the eye of a needle than for the rich to enter the
Kingdom of Heaven.”
is taken from the oldest apocryphal Gospel of the Hebrews, a portion
of whose text, in addition to the above, is considered by the
Holy Fathers to contain the actual words of Christ. In this case,
the clarity, the directness and power of the witness speak for
another interesting passage from the same source:
said to His disciples that they be "as sheep in the midst
of wolves" (Matthew 10:16)… "Peter, interrupting Him,
says: 'But what if the wolves rend the sheep? Jesus said to Peter:
let the sheep fear not the wolves, who may do nothing but slay
them, and you fear not those who kill you and can do nothing more,
but fear Him Who has power over the spirit and flesh and upon
your slaying will cast you into fiery Gehenna."
a fascinating variation on the well-known Gospel words of Christ
on the wolves and sheep!
are the words of Christ recorded in the "Teachings of the
Holy Apostles," a monument of the first century:
to those who have, yet hypocritically take or grant themselves
more from others; for each will give his response to the Lord
God on the day of judgment."
will give his answer to the Lord on the day of judgment, especially
those who already have and yet hypocritically take more from others!
It is beneficial
to think about this to wealthy American politicians who spend
large sums of money to achieve power instead of using their wealth
to God-pleasing ends. But this applies to each of us individually,
who gather great estates for themselves, spending most of their
time in this endeavor, yet barely thinking of God's work.
Let us end
our discussion with one other passage quoted by St Clement, the
fourth Bishop of Rome (91-100 AD)"
ye be gathered together with Me in My bosom, and do not My commandments,
I will cast you away and will say unto you Depart from Me, I know
you not whence ye are, ye workers of iniquity!"
words of Christ should be heeded and considered by all of us;
let us ponder them and with the help of our conscience decided:
do these words apply to many of us as well?
I svet vo t'me svetit ["And Light Illuminates the Darkness,"]