4th SUNDAY OF PASCHA — Tone 3. Paralytic, Repose of St. Alexis Toth, Confessor and Defender of Orthodoxy in America (1909).
Tone 3 Troparion (Resurrection)
Let the heavens rejoice! Let the earth be glad! For the Lord has shown strength with His arm. He has trampled down death by death. He has become the first born of the dead. He has delivered us from the depths of hell, and has granted to the world// great mercy.
Tone 4 Troparion (St. Alexis)
O righteous Father Alexis, our heavenly intercessor and teacher, divine adornment of the Church of Christ, entreat the Master of All to strengthen the Orthodox Faith in America, to grant peace to the world// and to our souls great mercy!
Tone 5 Kontakion (St. Alexis)
Let us, the faithful, praise the Priest Alexis, a bright beacon of Orthodoxy in America, a model of patience and humility, a worthy shepherd of the flock of Christ! He called back sheep who had been led astray and brought them by his preaching// to the Heavenly Kingdom.
Tone 3 Kontakion (Pentecostarion)
By Your divine intercession, O Lord, as You raised up the Paralytic of old, so raise up my soul, paralyzed by sins and thoughtless acts; so that being saved I may sing to You:// “Glory to Your power, O compassionate Christ!”
Tone 6 Prokeimenon
O Lord, save Your people, / and bless Your inheritance! (Ps. 27:9a)
V. To You, O Lord, will I call. O my God, be not silent to me! (Ps. 27:1a)
Tone 7 Prokeimenon
The righteous shall rejoice in the Lord / and shall hope in Him. (Ps. 63:11a)
Acts 9:32-42 (Epistle)
Now it came to pass, as Peter went through all parts of the country, that he also came down to the saints who dwelt in Lydda.There he found a certain man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years and was paralyzed. And Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Arise and make your bed.” Then he arose immediately. So all who dwelt at Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord. At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did. But it happened in those days that she became sick and died. When they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. And since Lydda was near Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him, imploring him not to delay in coming to them. Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them. But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on the Lord.
Galatians 1:11-19(Epistle, Saint)
But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
V. I will sing of Your mercies, O Lord, forever; with my mouth I will proclaim Your truth from generation to generation. (Ps. 88:1-2)
V. For You have said: Mercy will be established forever; Your truth will be prepared in the heavens. (Ps. 88:3)
V. Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commandments. (Ps. 111:1)
John 5:1-15 (Gospel)
After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath. The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, “It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.” He answered them, “He who made me well said to me, ‘Take up your bed and walk.’” Then they asked him, “Who is the Man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” But the one who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a multitude being in that place. Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” The man departed and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.
John 10:1-9 (Gospel, Saint)
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them. Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.
The fourth Sunday is dedicated to Christ’s healing of the paralytic (Jn 5). The man is healed by Christ while waiting to be put down into the pool of water. Through baptism in the church we, too, are healed and saved by Christ for eternal life. Thus, in the church, we are told, together with the paralytic, “to sin no more that nothing worse befall you” (Jn 5.14).
In the middle of this fourth week, the middle day between Easter and Pentecost is solemnly celebrated. It is called the feast of Mid-Pentecost, at which Christ, “in the middle of the feast” teaches men of his saving mission and offers to all “the waters of immortality” (Jn 7.14). Again we are reminded of the Master’s presence and his saving promise: “If anyone is thirsty let him come to Me and drink” (Jn 7.37). We think also once again of our death and resurrection with Christ in our baptism, and our reception of the Holy Spirit from him in our chrismation. We “look back to one, and anticipate the other” as one of the hymns of the feast puts it. We know that we belong to that kingdom of the Risen Christ where “the Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who is thirsty come, let him who desires take the water of life without price” (Rev 22.17; Is 55.1).
In the middle of the feast, O Saviour, fill my thirsting soul with the waters of godliness, as Thou didst cry unto all: If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink! O Christ God, Fountain of life, glory to Thee! (Troparion).
Christ God, the Creator and Master of all, cried to all in the midst of the feast of the law: Come and drink the water of immortality! We fall before Thee and faithfully cry: Grant us Thy bounties, for Thou art the Fountain of our life! (Kontakion).
St. George who was late for the Liturgy
Around 1903, an Orthodox Arab named Khalil Abufarha, the churchwarden of the cave church in the Syrian village of Betshakhur, went to church to light the icon lamps and prepare it for Matins. Approaching the church, he heard unfamiliar voices; to his surprise, a service was already in progress at the church. What was his amazement when, having stepped inside, he became an eyewitness of the Divine Liturgy being celebrated by the angels and the Most Holy Theotokos Herself! Khalil froze. Suddenly, the clatter of a horse’s hooves was heard outside, and a young warrior entered the cave church. Then he hurriedly went to the Queen of Heaven.
“Where have you been, St. George?” She asked him loudly. “Why are you late?”
“O Sovereign Lady, the Most Holy Mother of God, a boat was sinking in the open sea, and I ran to save people who began to invoke my name.”
Having said this, St. George took off his wet cloak, splashing Khalil’s face and clothes. At the end of the Liturgy Khalil was vouchsafed to receive antidoron from the hands of the Most Pure Virgin Herself. After this, the Mother of God, St. George, and the angels disappeared. A little later, when the village priest and the parishioners entered the church, they found Khalil, still wet from the splashes from St. George’s cloak and carefully holding the antidoron received from the Most Holy Theotokos in his hand.