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Monday, May 20, 2024

Maundy Thursday: “Today he hangs on a tree”

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    Μ&epsilon ;γλη: «σμεκρεαι Ι ξyλου»

    The Last Supper, the Betrayal of Judas and the Immaculate Conception – See live image from the Apostle Barnabas Cathedral

    On Maundy Thursday the Church remembers the Last Supper. The Divine Drama culminates and the hymn of the day is related to the Passion of Christ, the Crucifixionand his death. In the evening, the liturgy of Good Friday is sung in the churches and the 12 Gospels are read. Between the 5th and 6th Gospels, the antiphon “Today he hangs on a tree…” is sung and the Crucified One is chanted by the priests.

    The fact that Maundy Thursday is the day on which traditionally the whole Orthodox world comes to partake of the Immaculate Mysteries, is due to the fact that today was the delivery of the horrible mystery of the Eucharist during the Last Supper. There Christ, in view of Easterof the Hebrew, at one of the previous ones (not at the last final banquet of the Jewish Passover when they sacrificed the lamb the first) he ate with His disciples; and after taking bread in His hands, He gave thanks, blessed it, and gave it to them saying: Take, eat, this is my body”.

    Since then the Eucharist constitutes the Church. To experience the event of the Church, we do the Liturgy. And just as the wheat was gathered from every corner of the field and ground and made into bread, so we also gather one by one from each corner, around the prefect of the Eucharist, and copying the practice of Christ, according to His command: “Do this in remembrance of me” (do this to remember me), “and as many times as you eat this bread and drink this wine, you will denounce and testify to my Resurrection, the truth of my Divinity”, we also congregate and do the Liturgy, and thus recommend the Church. And we are all invited to partake of this immortal table, but under conditions. Not impure, not impure, not unrepentant like Judas.

    So conditions are needed, and not for anyone to pass it by saying that it is the morning coffee that we have to go and drink, because that is how we are used to it and that is what the church protocol says or the custom of the day and so on. Saint Chrysostom says: “It is not the day that makes him worthy, but he who is worthy, whatever day has a holiday, has Easter, has Christmas.” Because he is ready and communicates worthily.

    As for prayer, what can I say to you, who are the ones experiencing the great mystery of prayer? You are the cultivators of mental and monologue prayer. It is you who struggle to keep the apostle Paul's “pray without ceasing.” Only for our brothers, the pilgrims, I can say that Christ gave us a model of prayer, and indeed with this prayer the struggle according to His human nature.

    The agony was in His human nature, so that no one would get the idea, as later on the Monophysites, that He was “a man after all” and not a perfect man.

    That is why the agony appeared and the sweat dripped like clots of blood from His forehead. It was the human nature which asserted its truth at that moment, and certainly not the divine nature, which never had any anxiety, for God is dispassionate, and never had any reservation in drinking the cup which the Father gave , that is to accept the Cross, the Passion, Death for the salvation of His brothers, the salvation of the world.

    But he gave us a pattern of prayer. Let me recall only one word of Saint Gregory the Theologian, if I am not mistaken: “it is better to remember God or to breathe” (It is more necessary to pray and invoke the name of God than to breathe). How long can one go without breathing? To close his nose, not to take in oxygen? For a few minutes, the body endures the so-called silent breathing, the oxygen it receives through the pores of the body. But how much? Then the person dies.

    How long will the person, the soul, endure without prayer? We need prayer more than we need oxygen. The man who cut himself off from prayer and stopped mentioning God's name is dead! This one is for memorial services with plerezas and for crying and mourning without a fairy tale. Prayer is that which shows that the heart is beating from within. That there is life, that man is alive.

    See live image from the Apostle Barnabas Cathedral:

    Source: cyprustimes.com

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