My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The Daily Readings of the Gospel and Epistle and even the readings from the night before for Vespers, are all interconnected and combined are a centralized teaching that the Church Fathers wanted to present to us. Saturday morning's Epistle and Gospel are an excellent example of this. The Epistle, for Saturday, teaches us the concept that "So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please..." our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:9) and the Gospel explains what it means to please Him. So whether or not we have gone home to Christ in Heaven or away still in this life we ought to do the things that are well pleasing to Christ. What are the things that are well pleasing to the Lord? The Gospel explains that we ought to "... preach the kingdom of God and to heal." What does it mean to heal? It means to bring people to Christ so He can heal them of what spiritually ails them.
It is only Christ who heals and works miracles. When Christ performed the miracle of the Loaves and the Fishes, the His Holy Apostles distributed them to the people there present. In doing so, the Apostles shared in Christ's Glory. It is the same with the Orthodox Christian today, each and everyone of us has the mandate from Christ to bring people to Him to receive the Loaf that came down from Heaven (Himself, His Body and Blood in Holy Communion). If the person is Orthodox, we are just bringing him or her back Home. If the person is not Orthodox, then we are fulfilling the first part of the teaching to preach the Gospel so the person can learn about Christ and find Him, who they have hungered for, in the Church His Body.
But the Epistle also makes it clear this is also the duty of those who are in Heaven and are with Christ. How does this work? St. Nektarios of Pentapolis, whose feast we will celebrate soon on November 9th, is reported to have said after his repose, "It's as if we saints are in retirement... The people don't pray to us, don't entreat us, don't ask us for anything, don't give us any handiwork to do. They don't give us the opportunity to pray to God for them." A dear friend of mine said to me very recently, "... in 100 years St. Nektarios has not abandoned us and he won't now!" The same is true of all the Saints, they will not abandon us. These days unfortunately the Saints do not have much to do as not too many people ask them for help spiritually, we ought to ask them to help us so that they can continue their Christian duties. Our beloved St. Nicholas, along with St. Nektarios, and our Sweet Panagia the Mother of our Christ are very excited to help us spiritually in our daily struggles. We just have to give them the excuse to help by asking.
Many St. Nicholas together with St. Nektarios and the Most Holy Theotokos, the Mother of our Lord pray for us always!
Fr. Simeon Pardalis, FrSimeon@stnicholastarpon.org