Today we commemorate St. Jacob Netsvetov, a mixed Russian and Native American Aleut, who endeavored for many years to be the Enlightener of the Yupik People in Alaska. It was through his missionary efforts that thousands of Yupik Eskimos of the three river basins were brought to the Orthodox Christian faith. Holy Father Jacob pray unto God for Us!
This Sunday we hear the gospel lesson from St. Matthew 8:28-9:1 concerning demons and possession. Jesus himself did not reject the popular notion of his time that Satan and his demons had power over the fallen world, causing physical and spiritual sicknesses and bringing about a distortion of the divine likeness of human beings.
Today we hear the story of the Roman officer who came to Jesus to ask him to heal his servant, saying, “but only say the word and my servant will be healed”. Upon hearing his request Jesus said, “not even in Israel have I found such faith…be it done for you as you have believed.” The centurion’s servant was healed at that very moment!
This weekend we celebrate the end of the Apostles Fast and the coming of the Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, whom the Church calls, “the chief of the apostles”. From the Gospels we know that the Apostle Peter was the first who confessed Jesus as the Son of the living God, the leader of the early Church in Jerusalem and the future Bishop of Rome. St. Paul was known as the Apostle to the Gentiles and the preeminent missionary of the Christian faith, the Apostle who has been called the “One after the One (Christ).
Today is the Feast of Pentecost which comes 50 days after Pascha. It was on this day God gave humanity the gift of the Spirit, the pledge of a new Promised land, God’s coming kingdom. The Risen Christ after his resurrection and at the Ascension told his followers to wait in Jerusalem for in a few days they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit for, “You will be filled with power, and you will be witnesses for me in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:4-5,8)
On this the seventh Sunday after Pascha, the Church celebrates the Sunday of the Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council at Nicea in 325 AD. Through these Father’s and Doctors of the Church, God has given as the Creed of our faith, better known as the Nicene Creed, which we still recite and sing in our churches in the context of our liturgies and baptisms.
On the Thursday of the Sixth week after Pascha, we in the Orthodox Faith celebrate the Great Feast of the Ascension of our Lord and God. The Feast marks the end of Christ’s post resurrection appearances, for it signifies the enthronement of Jesus Christ as our Lord who exercises sovereignty over all things.