April 14, 2010 + From Homily XIV


The Homilies of St. John Chrysostom on the Acts of the Apostles

And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. (Acts 6:1)

So then there was a daily ministration for the widows. And observe how he calls it a "ministration," and not directly alms: extolling by this at once the doers, and those to whom it was done. "Were neglected."  This did not arise from malice, but perhaps from the carelessness of the multitude. And therefore he brought it forward openly, for this was no small evil. Observe, how even in the beginning the evils came not only from without, but also from within. For you must not look to this only, that it was set to rights, but observe that it was a great evil that it existed.

"Then the twelve," etc. (v. 2.) Do you observe how outward concerns succeed to inward? They do not act at their own discretion, but plead for themselves to the congregation. So ought it to be done now. "It is not reason," says he, "that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables." First he puts to them the unreasonableness of the thing; that it is not possible for both things to be done with the same attention: just as when they were about to ordain Matthias, they first show the necessity of the thing, that one was deficient, and there must needs be twelve. And so here they showed the necessity; and they did it not sooner, but waited till the murmuring arose; nor, on the other hand, did they suffer this to spread far. And, lo! they leave the decision to them: those who pleased all, those who of all were honestly reputed, them they present: not now twelve, but "seven, full of the Spirit and of wisdom: well reported of" for their conversation. (v. 3.)

Now when Matthias was to be presented, it was said, "Therefore must one of these men which have companied with us all the time" (ch. i. 21): but not so here: for the case was not alike. And they do not now put it to the lot; they might indeed themselves have made the election, as moved by the Spirit: but nevertheless, they desire the testimony of the people. The fixing the number, and the ordaining them, and for this kind of business, rested with them: but the choice of the men they make over to the people, that they might not seem to act from favor: just as God also leaves it to Moses to choose as elders those whom he knew. (Num. xi. 16.) "And of wisdom." For indeed there needs much wisdom in such ministrations. For think not, because he hath not the word committed unto him, that such an one has no need of wisdom: he does need it, and much too. "But we," saith he, "will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word." (v. 4.)  Again they plead for themselves, beginning and ending with this. "Will give ourselves continually," he saith. For so it behooved, not just to do the mere acts, or in any chance way, but to be continually doing them.

"And the saying," we are told, "pleased the whole multitude." (v. 5, 6.) This too was worthy of their wisdom. All approved of what was said so sensible was it. "And they chose," it says (again it is the people that choose,) "Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: whom they set before the Apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them." They separated them from the multitude, and it is the people that draw them, not the Apostles that lead them.

Observe how he avoids all that is superfluous: he does not tell in what way it was done, but that they were ordained with prayer: for this is the meaning of "putting forth the hand,") or ordination: the hand of the man is laid upon (the person,) but the whole work is of God, and it is His hand which toucheth the head of the one ordained, if he be duly ordained. "And the word of God," it says, "increased: and the number of the disciples multiplied." (v. 7.)  It is not for nothing that he says this: it shows how great is the virtue of alms and good order.

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St. Zosimas of Solovki - April 17

Troparion of St. Zosimas of Solovki, Tone 4

O wise Father Zosimas, thou didst make the wilderness thy dwelling, intent on the Kingdom of Heaven. Thou didst live as an earthly angel in fasting, vigil and prayer. Thy abundant tears made the wilderness sprout and blossom. As thou hast boldness with God, remember thy children.

Kontakion of St. Zosimas of Solovki, Tone 8

Wounded with love for Christ thou didst take His Cross on thy shoulders. In divine armour with unceasing prayer as thy lance thou didst hew down the legions of demons. So we cry to thee: Rejoice, Father Zosimas, holy adornment of monks.