Saturday, February 4, 2017

A Selected Letter to Saint Barsanuphius of Gaza.

Saints Barsanuphius and John of Gaza.
   Question from a brother to the Old man: "Father, I ask you to tell me how it is that the daughter of the Canaanite woman and the servant of the centurion contributed [to their faith] in order that they may be healed. Even the other paralytic only asked for bodily health, and yet he first received forgiveness of sins. Therefore, where is their contribution in this case?. The Lord, too, says to the apostles: "Whatever you loose on this earth shall also be loosed in heaven", and: "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them". He did not say: "If they contribute". So please explain this to me". Response:
   Brother, affliction comes to those who do not understand how things are. For the daughter of the Canaanite woman and the servant of the centurion had lost their minds: the first from madness, the second from the danger of the illness. So they were unable to contribute to the faith of those who were pray­ing for them.
The paralytic contributed his faith to the healing of body and was deemed worthy of receiving something greater through the loving-kindness of the Master. For the Savior him­self, in order that the people may believe that he had come, from the very outset performed signs without the cooperation [of those healed]; and yet people were healed gratuitously, in order that the word of the prophet might be fulfilled: "He has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases".
   Therefore, people were justified of their sins and were healed by his grace, without their contribution being demanded, except insofar as they should keep this afterward, as it is said: "Behold, you have been made well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you. About him, Saint John the Evangelist again says: "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world". Look at what he says: "Of the whole world." Those who did not ac­cept him, however, did not receive healing; and about these, the word is fulfilled: "If the unbeliever separates, let it be so." He also gave to the apostles the authority to heal and to forgive the sins of those who contributed with their prayer. Let Saint James himself, who received such an authority, convince you, when he says: "The prayer of the righteous is very powerful and effective."
   Therefore, the prayer became effective in the case of the apos­tles and the other saints; but it was different in the case of the Savior. In His case, all those who accepted Him were saved and healed. Those who did not accept him, but instead pushed him away, perished. Let us, then, become established in the faith in order that we may be saved in the name of God, to whom is due glory to the ages. Amen.

Chryssavgis J. (2007), Barsanuphius and John Letters, Volume 2, the Catholic University of America Press, Washington D.C., U.S.A.