Orthodox Daily Devotional for November 11-17
Epistles Ephesians 2: For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, 15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, 16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. 17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. 19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
NOTES ON THE EPISTLE FROM MARIUS VICTORINUS: Jesus Christ and his teachings are the foundation for the apostles. The edifice built on this foundation consists in life and character and one’s conduct and discipline. The primary foundation is for life; the rest of the edifice is for its adornment and edification. The primary foundation, I say, is to believe in Christ, hope in him and trust in God. This foundation is the teaching of the apostles, which is also heard in the word of the prophets. Note the order of this distinction, first apostles and then prophets. The apostles beheld [God incarnate]; the prophets received the Spirit. These are the saints mentioned above: those who saw and those who were inhabited by the Spirit. Hence the teachings of the apostles and prophets are indeed the teachings of Christ, which proclaim the foundation of all eternal hope.
*St Theophylact commentary continued…
Mark 7 31–37. And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, He came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis. And they bring unto Him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they, beseech Him to put His hand upon him. And He took him aside from the multitude, and put His fingers into the; man’s ears, and He spit, and touched the man’s tongue;; and looking up. to heaven, He sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened. And, straightway , His ears. were opened, and the bond of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain. And He charged them that they should tell no man: but the more He charged them, so much the more they proclaimed it; and were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: He maketh both the deaf, to hear, and the dumb to speak. He does not linger in the regions of the Gentiles, but quickly departs from them so that, as I have said, He would not give the Jews grounds to say that He transgressed the law by mixing with Gentiles. And having left the region of Tyre and Sidon, He approaches Galilee, There He heals one that was deaf, who had an impediment of speech, whose affliction was from a demon. The Lord first took him aside, for He Who humbled Himself to the level of our poverty was not vainglorious, and for the most part did not wish to work miracles before the eyes of the many, unless it were for the benefit of those who saw,. He spat, and touched the man’s tongue, showing that every part of His holy flesh was divine and holy, so that even His spittle loosed the bonds of the tongue. Although spittle seems worthless, with the Lord all things are marvelous and divine. Looking up to heaven, He sighed, for two reasons: first, as if to beseech the Father to have mercy on the man, and thus to teach us, when we are about to work a miracle, to look to God and to beg from Him the power of miracles; and secondly, to show compassion for the misery of fallen human nature, which had been delivered to the devil, to be mocked, and which suffered such afflictions. And when He had healed, the Lord is proclaimed by,, those who had been healed, though He Himself had commanded them to say nothing. We learn from this that when we do good to others, we ought not to ask for applause and acclaim. But when we ourselves have received some good from the hand of another, then we ought to tell it and proclaim those who have done good, though they do not desire it.
Mark 8:1–9. In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called His disciples unto Him, and saith unto them, I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with Me three days, and have nothing to eat: and if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for some of them came from far. And His disciples answered Him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness? And He asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven. And He commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and He took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to His disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people. And they had a few small fishes: and He blessed, and commanded to set them also before them. So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken pieces that were left seven baskets. And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and He sent them away. The Lord had already worked a similar miracle on a previous occasion,1 and now again He works a miracle, for good reason: the multitude had remained with Him for three days, and everyone’s supply of food was exhausted. He did not always perform miracles with food, lest it appear that the multitudes were following Him for the sake of food. He would not have worked this miracle, were it not for the anticipated danger of hunger among the multitude. See how the disciples are still without understanding, not yet having acquired faith in His power which they had seen in His previous miracles. But He does not scold them, thus teaching us also not to give a harsh rebuke to those who are ignorant, but to forgive them their lack of understanding.
Commentary on the feeding of the 4000 continued…
feast sumptuously from His gifts, especially all those who have remained with Him for three days, that is, who have been baptized. Baptism is called ‘illumination*, and it is performed by means of three immersions; therefore those who stayed with the Lord “three days” signify those who have been illumined by baptism.2 He takes seven loaves, by which I mean the things of the Spirit, for the number seven is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit perfects and completes all things, and in the number seven both our life and this age are completed. The newly illumined eat and are satisfied, and they leave the leftover pieces, for they are not able to digest ail divine truths. But when the Lord worked the miracle with five loaves, there were twelve baskets of broken pieces remaining, for there the multitude numbered five thousand, signifying those who are enslaved to the five senses; and this is why they were not able to eat much, but were satisfied by a little, leaving much left over. But here there are seven baskets, and fewer leftovers, because there are four thousand men, signifying those whose spiritual capacity has been enlarged by their practice of the four virtues5, and who therefore can digest more and leave less. What they could not eat is contained by the seven baskets, signifying those things which are the most spiritual and profound. We should also learn from the literal account that we ought to stop eating when we have satisfied our need, and not look for anything more. See how the multitude did not take for themselves the leftovers from the loaves after they had eaten and were satisfied. Instead, the disciples gathered up the remainder, just as they had done in the previous miracle with the five loaves. Likewise we ought to satisfy our hunger in moderation.
10-12. And straightway He entered into a boat with His disciples, and came into the region of Dalmanutha. And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with Him, seeking of sign from heaven, tempting Him. And He sighed deeply in His spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? Verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation, After the miracle with the loaves, He immediately departed to another place, fearing that the multitude, because of this miracle, would cause an uprising and make Him king. The Pharisees ask for a sign from heaven, such as to make the sun or moon stand still, or to send down a lightning bolt, or to change the winds. For they thought that He would not be able to perform a sign from heaven, thinking that it was only by Beelzebub that He was able to work miracles on earth. But the Lord does not grant them their request. For signs from heaven are appointed for another time, namely, at the second coming of Christ, when the powers of the heavens will be shaken and the moon will no longer give out its light. But at the time of His first coming there are no such miracles, but instead everything that He does is full of meekness. Hence “there shall no sign be given unto this generation,” that is, no sign from heaven.
13–21, And He left them, and entering into the boat again departed to the other side. Now His disciples had forgotten to take bread, neither had they in the boat with them more than one loaf. And He charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, We have no bread. And Jesus, knowing it, saith unto them, Why reason ye, that ye have no bread? Perceive ye not yet, neither understand? Have ye your heart yet hardened? Having eyes, see ye not? And having ears, hear ye not? And do ye not remember when I broke the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of pieces took ye up? They say unto Him, Twelve. And when the seven among the four thousand, how many baskets full of pieces took ye up? And they said, Seven. And He said unto them, How is it that ye do not yet understand? The Lord leaves the Pharisees because they refuse all correction. One must spend time with those with whom there is hope of correction, but turn away from those who refuse to abandon their wickedness. By divine providence the disciples forget to bring bread with them, so that by means of the Lord’s chastisement they might become better, and come to realize His power. When the Lord told them to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, that is, to beware of their teachings, the disciples thought that the Lord was forbidding the leavening of bread. Therefore they were rightly rebuked for not under- standing the power of Christ, Who was able to make bread out of what did not exist. The Lord calls the teaching of the Pharisees and Herodians “leaven” because [like sourdough] it was swelled up with itself and full of old corruption. Anyone who has spent his life in corruption, unable to say anything spiritual that might be of sweetness to the listener, may be said to offer leaven, that is, to offer teaching which corrupts others with its moldering evil, and which in time causes others to regret they had followed that teaching. Who were the Herodians? Recently appeared teachers, who said that Herod was the messiah in whom they should believe.
Mark 8 And He cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto Him, and besought Him to touch him. And He took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the village; and when He had spit on his eyes, and put His hands upon him, He asked him if he saw anything. And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking. After that He put His hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly. And He sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the village, nor tell it to any in the village. It appears that Bethsaida suffered from great unbelief, which is why Christ cries woe unto it, as Matthew records: “Woe unto thee, Chorazin! Woe unto thee, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago.” The Lord, therefore, comes to Bethsaida, and the people bring a blind man unto Him. But the faith of those who bring the blind man was not genuine, which is why the Lord leads him out of the village and then heals him. He spits upon the eyes of the blind man, and puts His hands on him, so that we might learn that both the word of God as well as the action which follows the word are able to work miracles. For the hand is a symbol of action, and the spit is a symbol of the word, coming as it does from the mouth. The blind man himself did not have perfect faith, which is why the Lord does not at once make him to see clearly, but only in part, as his faith was only in part. For healing occurs according to one’s faith. The Lord commands the man not to go back into the village, because,’as I have mentioned, the inhabitants of Bethsaida were unbelieving and would have caused harm to the soul of the man. The Lord also commands him not to tell anyone what was done to him, lest, by not believing him, the villagers draw down upon themselves greater condemnation. And how often are we not also spiritually blind, living in the village, that is, in this world? But when Christ leads us out of the village, that is, from the world and its affairs, then we are healed. But after we have been healed, He tells us to return no more into the village, but to our home. For the home of each one of us is heaven and the dwelling places there.