Theophylact of Ohrid: “Fear not, daughter of Zion: behold, thy King cometh to thee, sitting on the colt of an ass” Sunday, Mar 29 2015 

Theophylact_the_Bulgarian (1)On John 12:14-16

When the disciples had untied it [the young donkey] and brought it to Him, then He found it and sat thereon.

In doing so He fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah who said “Fear not, daughter of Zion: behold, thy King cometh to thee, sitting on the colt of an ass” (see Zech. 9:9).

Because most of the kings of Jerusalem were wicked and tyrannical, the prophet said, “Fear not, O Zion. The king of whom I prophesy to you will not be like the others, but meek and humble, displaying no arrogance whatsoever.”

This is shown by the fact that He came seated upon an ass. He did not enter the city at the head of an army, but conveyed by a donkey.

His sitting upon an ass was also a symbol of things to come.

Being unclean according to the law, the ass represents the uncleanliness of the Gentile race, upon whom Jesus, the Word of God, sits, subduing like a colt this insubordinate and uninstructed people, this new race, and leading it into the true Jerusalem once it has been tamed and made obedient to Him.

Has the Lord not gathered the Gentiles into heaven, once they became His people and were obedient to His preaching?

As for the palms, do they not indicate perhaps that He Who raised Lazarus has become the Victor over death? For palms were awarded to those who were victorious in games and contests.

Perhaps they also indicate that He Who is being praised is a heavenly Being Who has come from above.

Of all trees it is the palm that appears to soar upwards to the very heavens, so to speak; it bears foliage at the top, and at the peak puts out young white shoots, but the stump and the middle section of the trunk, all the way to top, are rough and hard to climb because of the sharp spines.

So it is that he who strives to acquire knowledge of the Son and Word of God will find it a hard and uphill journey because of the toil of gaining virtue.

But when he has arrived at the pinnacle of knowledge, he will be met, as if by the whitest palm shoots, by the bright light of divine knowledge and the revelation of ineffable things.

[…] These things understood not His disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified. By glory he means the Lord’s Ascension after the Cross and Passion. Only then, by the coming of the Holy Spirit, did they understand that these things were written of Him.

Theophylact of Ohrid (1055-1107): Explanation of the Gospel of St John, on John 12:14-16 @ Chrysostom Press.

Theophylact of Ohrid: The Healing at the Pool of Bethesda Saturday, May 10 2014 

Theophylact_the_Bulgarian (1)On John 5:1-15.

Understand the sheep’s pool to represent the grace of Baptism, in which the Sheep sacrificed for us, the Lord Jesus, was washed when He was baptized for our sake.

This pool has five porches, symbolizing the four great virtues plus the divine contemplation of dogma which are revealed in Baptism.

Human nature, paralyzed in all its spiritual powers, lay sick for thirty-eight years.

It was not sound in its belief in the Holy Trinity (i.e. 3), nor did it have a sure belief in the eighth age (i.e. 8), that is, the general Resurrection and the Last Judgement.

This is why it could not find healing, for it did not have any man to put it into the pool.

That is to say, the Son of God, Who intended to heal through Baptism, had not yet been made man.

But when He was made man, then He healed our nature and commanded us to take up our bed, that is, lift up our body from the earth, making it light and free, not weighted down by flesh and earthly cares, and raising it from slothfulness so that it is able to walk, which means, active in doing good.

The troubling of the water in the pool suggests the stirring up the evil spirits lurking in the waters of Baptism, crushing and choking them by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

May we also obtain healing, for we are paralyzed and motionless in the doing of anything good; we also have no man, that is, no human and rational thought, which distinguishes us from the irrational beasts, to carry us into the pool of tears of repentance, in which the first who enters is healed.

He who procrastinates and puts off his repentance until later, and does not hurry to repent now, does not obtain healing. Hasten to be the first to enter this pool, lest death overtake you.

And there is an angel which troubles this pool of repentance. What angel is it? The Angel of Great Counsel of the Father, Christ the Saviour. (see Is. 9:6).

For unless the divine Word touches our heart and troubles it with thought of the torments of the age to come, this pool cannot become active and effective, and there is no healing for the paralyzed soul.

The pool of repentance may also fittingly be called a sheep’s pool; for in it are washed like sheep the inward parts and thoughts of the saints who are made ready to become a living sacrifice pleasing to God, making them innocent and guileless.

May we also obtain healing, and afterwards be found in God’s holy temple, no longer stained by unholy thoughts, lest a worse thing, the eternal torments, come unto us.

Theophylact of Ohrid (1055-1107): Explanation of the Gospel of St John, on John 5:1-15 @ Chrysostom Press.

Theophylact of Ohrid: The Rebellion of the Prodigal Son Tuesday, Mar 4 2014 

Theophylact_the_Bulgarian (1)On Luke 15:11-32 (the Parable of the Prodigal Son).

Of old, from the beginning, righteousness belonged to human nature, which is why the older son (born at the beginning) does not become estranged from the father.

But sin is an evil thing which was born later.

This is why it is the younger son who alienates himself from the father, for the latter-born son grew up together with sin which had insinuated itself into man at a later time.

The sinner is also called the younger son because the sinner is an innovator, a revolutionary, and a rebel, who defies his Father’s will. Father, give me the portion of the property (ousia) that falleth to me.

The essential property of man is his rational mind, his logos, always accompanied by his free will (autexousia), for all that is rational is inherently self-governing.

The Lord gives us logos for us to use, according to our free will, as our own essential property.

He gives to all alike, so that all alike are rational, and all alike are self-governing.

But some of us use this generous gift rationally, in accordance with logos, while others of us squander the divine gift.

Moreover, everything which the Lord has given us might be called our property, that is, the sky, the earth, the whole creation, the law and the prophets.

But the later sinful generation, the younger son, saw the sky and made it a god, and saw the earth and worshipped it, and did not want to walk in the way of God’s law, and did evil to the prophets.

On the other hand, the elder son, the righteous, used all these things for the glory of God.

Therefore, having given all an equal share of logos and self-determination, God permits us to make our way according to our own will and compels no one to serve Him who is unwilling.

If He had wanted to compel us, He would not have created us with logos and a free will.

But the younger son completely spent this inheritance. Why? Because he had gone into a far country.

When a man rebels against God and places himself far away from the fear of God, then he squanders all the divine gifts.

But when we are near to God, we do not do such deeds that merit our destruction. As it is written, I beheld the Lord ever before me, for He is at my right hand, that I might not be shaken (Ps. 15:8).

But when we are far from God and become rebellious, we both do, and suffer, the worst things, as it is written, Behold, they that remove themselves from Thee shall perish (Ps. 72:25).

Theophylact of Ohrid (1055-1107): Explanation of the Gospel of St Luke, on Luke 15:11-32 (Sunday of the Prodigal Son) @ Chrysostom Press.

Theophylact of Ohrid: The Prayer of the Pharisee Thursday, Feb 13 2014 

Theophylact_the_Bulgarian (1)On Luke 18:9-14 (the Parable of the Publican and the Pharisee).

The Lord ceaselessly purges the passion of pride in many ways.

This passion, more than any other, disturbs our thoughts, and for this reason the Lord always and everywhere teaches on this subject.

Here He is purging the worst form of pride.

For there are many offshoots of self-love. Presumption, arrogance, and vainglory all stem from this root.

But the most destructive of all these kinds of self-love is pride, for pride is contempt of God.

When a man ascribes his accomplishments to himself, and not to God, this is nothing less than denial of God and opposition to Him.

Therefore, like enemy to enemy, the Lord opposes this passion which is opposed to Him, and through this parable He promises to heal it.

He directs this parable towards those who trust in themselves and who do not attribute everything to God, and who, as a result, despise others.

He shows that when righteousness—which is marvelous in every other respect and sets a man close to God—takes pride as its companion, it casts that man into the lowest depths and makes demonic what was God-like just a short time before.

The words of the Pharisee at first resemble the words of a grateful man. For he says, God, I thank Thee. But the words that follow are full of foolishness.

He does not say, “that Thou hast made me to depart from extortion and iniquities,” but Instead, “I thank Thee that I am not an extortioner or worker of iniquity.”

He attributes this accomplishment to himself, as something done by his own strength. How can a man who knows that what he has, he has received from God, compare other men to himself unfavorably and judge them?

Certainly, if a man believed that he had received as a gift good things that in truth belong to God, he would not despise other men.

He would instead consider himself just as naked as his fellow men in regards to virtue, except that by the mercy of God his nakedness has been covered with a donated garment.

The Pharisee is proud, ascribing his deeds to his own strength, and that is why he proceeds to condemn others.

By saying that the Pharisee stood, the Lord indicates his haughtiness and lack of humility. In the same way that a humble-minded man is likewise humble in his demeanor, this Pharisee by his bearing displays his pride.

Although it is also said of the publican that he stood, note what follows: he would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, so that he was stooped in posture.

But the eyes of the Pharisee, together with his heart, were lifted up to heaven in boastful exaltation.

Theophylact of Ohrid (1055-1107): Explanation of the Gospel of St Luke, on Luke 18:10-14 (Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee) @ Chrysostom Press.

Theophylact of Ohrid: Jesus Heals the Blind Man by the Pool of Siloam Tuesday, Jun 11 2013 

Theophylact_the_Bulgarian (1)When He had thus spoken, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, and said unto him,

Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing (John 9:6-7).

When He had thus spoken—Jesus did not stop with words, but at once added the deed—He spat on the ground, and having made clay, He anointed the eyes of the blind man.

By using the clay, the Lord showed that it was He Who formed Adam out of clay.

Earlier He announced, in so many words, “I am He Who formed Adam,” offending His listeners; now He demonstrates with an irrefutable deed the truth of that proclamation.

Jesus created eyes for the blind man out of clay, just as He had done for Adam. He did not merely fashion the eyes, or open them, but gave them vision.

This proves that it was He Who breathed the soul into Adam. Without the soul being present to impart its divine energy, even a perfectly formed eye would see nothing.

Christ used spittle to make him see, because He was about to send the blind man to the pool of Siloam and wanted to make clear that He, not the water of that spring, was the source of the miracle.

Let us learn that He fashioned and opened the man’s eyes by the power which  proceeds from His mouth; this is why He spat on the ground to make clay.

Then, lest anyone imagine that the source of the miracle was the earth, He ordered the man to wash off the clay…. Why does He command him to go to the pool of Siloam?

First, that we may learn of the blind man’s faith and obedience. He did not reason, “If the clay and the spittle will give me eyes, why must I wash in the pool of Siloam?” Instead, he obeyed the One Who commanded.

Second…, it is likely that many saw Him anoint the man’s eyes with clay and paid close attention to what He was doing. As a result, no one could later dispute that the Lord had done these things.

Third, by sending the blind man to the pool of Siloam, Christ shows that He is not an opponent of the Old Testament.

And why does the Evangelist add the interpretation of the word “Siloam”? So that you might learn that the pool of Siloam is a figure of Christ, and that it was Christ Who healed the man there.

Just as Christ is the spiritual Rock, so is He the spiritual Siloam. As the gush of the spring of Siloam was fearful in its strength, so too the advent of the Lord, hidden and unknown to the angels, overwhelmed all sin by its power.

Theophylact of Ohrid (1055-1107): Explanation of the Gospel of John, published by Chrysostom Press; online version of John 9:1-38 @ Kandylaki.