35th Sunday after Pentecost
St. Nicholas Bulletin - February 7, 2021
Christ is in our midst! Христос међу нама! Cristo entra esta nosotros
Believing is Seeing
Homily from Sarah Byrne-Martelli
preached at St. Mary Orthodox Church in Cambridge, MA
Today, a blind man, who has lived his life by the side of the road, asks our Lord for healing. Like the blind man, we all suffer with some form of blindness – if not perhaps with our physical eyes, then blindness within our hearts and minds. We focus on the wrong places and this leads us into suffering and despair. Perhaps we gaze ahead with extreme farsightedness, focused on what's in front of us: our calendars, our careers, our plans for next month, next year.  Perhaps we stare at others too much: noticing what they have, what they do for a living, how they look and act; we develop envy, scorn, we judge and desire. Or we focus only on personal needs, while oblivious to the real needs of those around us.  

When our eyes are closed, we miss what is right in front of us. When we look elsewhere, with envy or greed or mindless distraction, we miss what is right in front of us. We stare into space, we are scattered, we suffer and blindly fall into sin. Is this how God calls us to live?

Blindness of any type can be crippling, and this was true for the man who sat begging on the side of the road. He calls out to Jesus two times: “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus orders the man be brought to him. And then – I always thought this was interesting – though He is the Christ, the son of living God, and it was probably pretty obvious what type of healing the man needed, Jesus doesn't just go ahead and heal him. Instead, Jesus says to the man, “What do you want me to do for you?”

Picture Christ walking up to you and saying, “What do you want me to do for you?” What would you say? Would you know where you need healing? Would you stammer? Would you be rendered silent, scrambling for a response?  

What's funny is when you present it like this – Christ walking up to us and saying "What do you want me to do for you?" it seems kind of odd, like it might never really happen. We might have this idea that we will meet God only after death. We become complacent, forgetting that a life of prayerful repentance is ongoing. I see this in my work as a chaplain caring for people at the end of life. Ignoring our relationship with God, and our need for healing, is very tempting, and very normal. We are so caught up in everything else…it’s like we’re living with blinders on. When we find ourselves in a crisis, suddenly in need of God, we can’t find the words of prayer. There is despair, regret, panic. We are so busy doing other things that we have no insight. We are rendered silent, with our spiritual eyes closed.

A wise mentor once relayed to me that it's a good idea, when offering prayers for a sick or dying person, to do so with your eyes open. I laughed and said to her, “Oh, no problem, I'm Orthodox Christian! We always pray with our eyes open!” Of course! But do we, really? Yes, we pray in the presence of icons, with their vibrant and colorful images. We see Christ and his parables, His miracles, His birth in a humble cave, His transfiguration. We see His crucifixion, His resurrection from the dead, His trampling down death by death. Colors, lights, shadows, lovingly written into the icons, every brush stroke writing a prayer of praise to God. The reds, blues, golds, greens: all of this, infused with God.  

Do those colors fade when we exit the sanctuary? These colorful icons are windows into Christ’s kingdom, images of God in our world. Do we see the icons around us? Do we see the heavens declaring the glory of God? God's glorious image imprinted in the very people before us? Perhaps it’s easier to look away…even to keep our eyes closed.

We rely on God to open our eyes, to help us see the icons around us. Even more, we need God’s help to see ourselves as His living icons. And we are offered this help every day of our lives. Christ always asks us this question, “What do you want me to do for you?” and He always wills that we answer Him with honesty. It is an ongoing dialogue, a conversation. Walking up to receive Holy Communion, we encounter the Christ who knows us and calls us by name. Participating in the Sacrament of Confession is a chance to name the places where we need healing. Even though God knows our hearts, and knows our needs, there is something in the asking, in giving voice, that is imperative in our relationship with God. We name it, even if it seems obvious.

The blind man names his request. He trusts that God is able to heal him. When his sight is granted, the first person he sees is…Christ! And when we pray for restored spiritual sight, we, too, may see Christ before us, in everyone! The blind man becomes a witness to God’s power. In his gratitude and perseverance, he himself becomes an icon of praise, with Christ imprinted on him. And that gratitude is contagious! Those around him rejoice. The reds, blues, golds, greens of God’s icons come to life in the people surrounding the healed man.

Asking for our sight to be healed, to see depth and colors and light, means living through joy and sorrow in the light of Christ. It means seeing everything in God’s illuminating love: the real situation of our own sin, our own habits, our own judgments and failings. We do this by calling out to God, sometimes more than once, as the blind man did. It requires patience, perseverance.

And now that he is well, what defines the blind man? Not his burden. He can’t call himself the "blind man by the side of the road" any more. Now he is a man with perfect vision, seeing Christ. The possibility of new life is here – right now – and what will he do with it? Does he stay in the safe, familiar – if dark – spot by the side of the road? Does he hold his breath, skeptical, thinking it’s too good to be true? Does he, like the nine lepers, receive his healing and leave without thanking God? No! His belief gives him courage, joy, and gratitude.

Giving thanks to God and looking out with new eyes, instead of stumbling forward for worldly gain, we see the race that God has set before us. Looking at others with healed eyes, we see Christ in them. Looking at ourselves with healed eyes, we see ourselves as God does – as His children, worthy of love and compassion and healing.

In chaplaincy, we witness this healing – whether physical or spiritual – and it is a testament to our belief that with God, all things are possible. I have seen a critically ill young man sit up in bed, responding to hymns sung by his bedside. He had not spoken for weeks, but suddenly, he was singing. I have seen forgiveness flow among family members who were crippled by anger and pride. I have seen small moments of wholeness, flickers of joy in the midst of suffering. Even in the midst of ongoing pain, even in grief, we can offer acts of love to bring the image of Christ to those around us. As the eyesight of my 90-year old Hospice patient Rita failed in the last weeks of her life, her faith yet continued to grow. The darkness in her eyes increased, but the light in her soul helped her ask her daughter for forgiveness. The light in her heart guided her to be brave, to set her mind on God, and to shine with the peace that surpasses understanding.  She believed that she would see God. She beheld the icon of God in her daughter, as she humbly sought healing in their relationship. In her faith, she beheld God ever more perfectly as she departed this life. We, too, believe that we will see God. We have heard the term "seeing is believing." With Christ, believing is seeing.

~Hymnography of the Day~
When You descended to death, O Life Immortal, You destroyed hell with the splendor of Your Godhead. And when from the depths You raised the dead, all the powers of heaven cried out: O Giver of life, Christ our God, glory to You!

Truly you were revealed to your flock as a rule of faith, an image of humility and a teacher of abstinence; your humility exalted you; your poverty enriched you. Hierarch Father Nicholas, entreat Christ our God that our souls may be saved.

The sweet-sounding shepherd’s pipe of your theology overpowered the trumpeting of the orators; for eloquence was also bestowed on you, as one who searched the depths of the Spirit. Pray to Christ God, Father Gregory, that our souls may be saved!

Hell became afraid, O almighty Savior, seeing the miracle of Your Resurrection from the tomb! The dead arose! Creation, with Adam, beheld this and rejoiced with You, and the world, my Savior, praises You forever.

Steadfast Protectress of Christians and constant Advocate before the Creator; despise not the cry of us sinners, but come speedily to help those who call on You in faith. Hasten to hear our petition and to intercede for us, O Theotokos, for You always protect those who honor You!

~Scripture Readings of the Day~
Matins: Nicholas Ressetar Epistle: Marijana Rocknage
Matins Next Week: Milan Radanovic Epistle Next Week: Dasha Gencturk

EPISTLE: I Timothy 1: 15-17
DEACON:      Let us pay attention. 
PRIEST:        Peace be unto all!
READER:      And with your spirit!
DEACON:      Wisdom.
READER:      The Prokeimenon in the Second Tone: The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my Salvation!
CHOIR: The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my Salvation!
READER: v: The Lord has chastened me sorely, but He has not given me over to death.
CHOIR: The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my Salvation!
READER: The Lord is my strength and my song;
CHOIR: … He has become my Salvation!
DEACON: Wisdom!
READER: The Reading is from the first Epistle of the Holy Apostle Paul to Timothy.
DEACON: Let us attend!
READER: Timothy, My Son, this is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.  However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
PRIEST: Peace be unto you, reader!
READER: And with your spirit! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
CHOIR: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
READER: May the Lord hear you in the day of trouble! May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!
CHOIR: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
READER: Save the King, O Lord, and hear us on the day we call!
CHOIR: Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
АПОСТОЛ: I Тимотеју 1:15-17 

Ђакон:          Пазимо
Свештеник: Мир свима!
Читач:           I Духу Твоме!
Ђакон:           Премудрост
Читач : ПРОКИМЕН- глас 2 Господ је снага моја и пјесма; Он ми постаде спасење.
Хор: Господ је снага моја и пјесма; Он ми постаде спасење.
Читач: Карајући покара ме Господ, али ме смрти не предаде.
Хор: Господ је снага моја и пјесма; Он ми постаде спасење.
Читач: Господ је снага моја и пјесма;
Хор: Он ми постаде спасење.
Ђакон: Премудрост
Читач: Читање је од Први посланице Светог апостола Павла до Тимотеју.
Ђакон: Пазимо
Читач: Чедо Тимотеје, истинита је ријеч и свакога примања достојна да Христос Исус дође у свијет да спасе грјешнике од којих сам први ја. Али због тога бих помилован да би Исус Христос показао на мени првоме све дуготрпљење, за примјер онима који ће вјеровати у њега за живот вјечни. А Цару вијекова, непролазноме, невидљивоме, јединоме премудроме Богу, част и слава у вијекове вијекова. Амин.
Свештеник: Мир ти читачу!
Читач: I Духом Твоме! Алилуиа, Алилуиа, Алилуиа
Хор: Алилуиа, Алилуиа, Алилуиа
Читач: Нека те услиши Господ у дан жалосни, нека те заштити име Бога Јаковљевога.
Хор: Алилуиа, Алилуиа, Алилуиа
Читач: Господе, помози цару и услиши нас кад Те зовемо.
Хор: Алилуиа, Алилуиа, Алилуиа

Luke 18: 35-43

Then it happened, as He was coming near Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the road begging. And hearing a multitude passing by, he asked what it meant. So they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. And he cried out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him, saying, “What do you want Me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.” Then Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.


Лука 18: 35-43

У вријеме оно, кад се Исус приближаваше Јерихону, слијепац неки сјеђаше крај пута просећи. Па када чу како народ пролази, распитиваше: Шта је то? И казаше му да Исус Назарећанин пролази. И повика говорећи: Исусе, сине Давидов, помилуј ме! А они што иђаху напријед кораху га да ућути, а он још јаче викаше: Сине Давидов, помилуј ме! А Исус стаде и заповједи да му га доведу; а кад му се приближи, запита га говорећи: Шта хоћеш да ти учиним? А он рече: Господе, да прогледам. А Исус му рече: Прогледај! Вјера твоја спасла те је. И одмах прогледа, и пође за њим славећи Бога. И сав народ који видје даде хвалу Богу.

~ The Week Ahead: Scriptures and Services ~
February Birthdays
Linsay Barry (Feb 1), Lincoln Grey Moore (Feb 5), Pete & Joe Petrovich (Feb 6), Jasmine Jacobs (Feb 6), Rod Vorkapich (Feb 8), Sladjana Gligorevic (Feb 9), Ruby Cangialosi (Feb 12), Waad Jacobs (Feb 15), Blake Bazdar (Feb 16), Susan Jacobs (Feb 18), John Semic (Feb 21), Emily Fithian (Feb 22), Ethan Imschweiler (Feb 22), Janet Krnjaic (Feb 24), Michael York (Feb 24), Steve Cashman (Feb 27), Alan Radanovic (Feb 29), Mike Sunajko

February Anniversaries
Dean & Karen Stefan (Feb 6), Ferris & Jody Atty (Feb 28)
~Bulletin Board~
At the direction of His Grace, Bishop IRINEJ and the Diocesan Council, we will not be having an in person Annual Assembly this year. Parish Council Officers will remain the same as in 2020. We will have a virtual meeting which will present informational reports only, on Sunday, February 7, at 1pm. This will enable our continued transparency, while maintaining a safe environment for all parishioners.

Thanks to God for all of those who tried to participate in the Virtual St. Sava Day Program. Even though we have not been able to physically gather, it was truly a blessing to still do our best to honor our Patron, St. Sava, the First Archbishop of Serbia. May God enable us to celebrate more fully next year!

The season for house blessings will soon be upon us. We will not be scheduling house blessings as normal this year. Father Christopher will be able to visit those who request a blessing during the weeks following Holy Theophany. Appointments can be made with Daria Milletics by calling into the Church Office. Later in the year, a time for normally scheduled blessings will occur once restrictions have been eased.

Peggy Radanovic is collecting club dues once again. Please mail your dues to her at her new address (203 Community Circle, Palmyra 17078) or here at church. You may call her with questions at 717-641-4249.

JoAnn Filepas is collecting 2021 dues for the St Nicholas Seniors. Please mail your dues to her at (7054 Red Top Road, Harrisburg 17111). Dues are $5 for the year.
February Charity
St. Sava School of Theology in Libertyville, IL

St. Sava School of Theology is named in memory of St. Sava, the first archbishop, teacher and enlightener of the Serbian people. On January 27th we celebrated St. Sava’s Day and it is fitting that we also offer support to the theological seminary in the US named for him. The main mission and goal of the school is to provide religious education and train candidates for the Holy Priesthood in the Serbian Orthodox Church specifically as well as interested Orthodox Christian individuals of other ethnic jurisdictions. St. Save School is the educational center for individuals committed to serving the Serbian Orthodox Church and her people in a multi-lingual environment. The school presently offers study leading to the Bachelor of Divinity Degree. Graduate level programs of study are also being developed at the School and in conjunction with other institutions. Funding is provided by an annual budget proposed by the School and adopted and implemented by the Central Council of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the US and Canada. Financial support is sought from all the Serbian Orthodox Dioceses and church congregations. More information about the School’s programs, plans and course of study may be found at the diocesan website at the following link:  http://www.serborth.org/education.html 

Stewardship Commitment Cards Will be mailed with your annual statements this week.