March 6, 2013 + About the Heir and the Slave
from St. Nikolai Velimirovich, The Prologue of Ohrid, March 6th
"I mean that as long as the heir is not of age, he is no different from the slave" (Galatians 4:1)
As long as the heir apparent is in the cradle, what would make him better than the son of a slave? Neither is his body better, nor are his thoughts more elevated, nor are his wishes or desires more pure. Such is the son of the king; so is the son of the slave; so is the son of the beggar. For a few years the son of the king does not differ from the son of the slave. However, when the son of the king reaches maturity and with full consciousness of his dignity, he receives authority over the kingdom, and when the son of a slave reaches full maturity and with full consciousness, he succumbs to the yoke of slavery. Then the enormous difference is seen. Then it is clearly manifest that the heir and the slave are not equal. The slave has to serve and the king has to rule. The apostle means to say that it is the same with Christians and with those who are not Christians. The non-Christian is a slave to nature and the Christian rules over nature. The non-Christian era of the history of mankind shows us how man was the slave to the elements of nature, the slave of the flesh, the slave of idols and creatures. The Christian era of the history of mankind shows us how man was master and owner, a nobleman of a royal race and heir to all.
Even those who knew about the One True God, as the Israelites knew, were not like children toward God nor heirs toward their father but were slaves and servants toward their Lord and Judge. "But when the fullness of time had come"(Galatians 4:4), the Only-Begotten Son of God came to earth. He made it possible "so that we might receive adoption" (Galatians 4:5), and to address the Spirit of God and cry out, "Abba, Father" (Galatians 4:5).
Brethren why did Christ come to earth? He did so to make us better than slaves and to give us the right of sonship and the duty of the master. The right of sonship, that in the name Christ, we can call God, Father, and the duty of the master to rule over ourselves, over our flesh, over our thoughts, over our desires, and over all nature around us.
O Only-Begotten Son of God, by Your mercy and sacrifice, we have received the adoption of sons. O help us that with Your help we may persevere to the end in purity and in truth.
Uncovering of the Precious Cross and the Precious Nails by the Empress St. Helen in Jerusalem
At the beginning of the reign of St. Constantine the Great (306-337), the first Roman emperor to recognize Christianity, he and his pious mother St Helen decided to rebuild the city of Jerusalem. They also planned to build a church on the site of the Lord’s suffering and Resurrection, in order to reconsecrate and purify the places connected with the Savior’s death and Resurrection from the foul taint of paganism. The empress Helen journeyed to Jerusalem with a large quantity of gold. St. Constantine wrote a letter to Patriarch Macarius I (313-323), requesting him to assist her in every possible way with her task of the restoring the Christian holy places. After her arrival in Jerusalem, the holy empress Helen began to destroy all the pagan temples and reconsecrate the places which had been defiled by the pagans. In her quest for the Life-Creating Cross, she questioned several Christians and Jews, but for a long time her search remained unsuccessful. Finally, an elderly Hebrew named Jude told her that the Cross was buried beneath the temple of Venus. St. Helen ordered that the pagan temple be demolished, and for the site to be excavated. Soon they found Golgotha and the Lord’s Sepulchre. Not far from the spot were three crosses, a board with the inscription written by Pilate (John 19:19), and four nails which had pierced the Lord’s Body.
Now the task was to determine on which of the three crosses the Savior had been crucified. Patriarch Macarius saw a dead person being carried to his grave, then he ordered that the dead man be placed upon each cross in turn. When the corpse was placed on the Cross of Christ, he was immediately restored to life. After seeing the raising of the dead man, everyone was convinced that the Life-Creating Cross had been found. With great joy the empress Helen and Patriarch Macarius lifted the Life-Creating Cross and displayed it to all the people standing about.