Saturday, 8 June 2013

Saint Theophylact of Ochrid-Sunday of the Blind Man


Sixth Sunday of Pascha

Sunday of the Blind Man

John 9:1-38

From the Explanation of the Gospel of St. John,

by Blessed Theophylact, Archbishop of Ochrid and Bulgaria

1–2. And as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from his birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? The Lord leaves the temple in order to dampen the anger of the Jews a little, and turns to the healing of the blind man. By this miracle He attempts to soften their stubborn disbelief, though they derived no benefit from it; at the same time, He shows them that He did not speak idly or boastfully when He said, Before Abraham was, I am (Jn. 8:58). Behold this miracle, the like of which has never been seen: others have restored the sight of blind men, but never of a man born blind. It is clear that Christ performed this miracle as God Who is before Abraham. To prove this to the Jews, He intentionally approached the blind man, and not vice-versa. When they see the Lord looking intently at the blind man, the disciples ask, Who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? This question appears to be illogical. How could the man have sinned before he was born? The apostles, of course, did not accept the foolish notion that the soul commits sin in another world, before the body is formed, and is punished by being joined to the body. Being fishermen, they would never have heard of this teaching of the Greek philosophers. Their question, then, might appear foolish, but not to one who is attentive. The apostles heard Christ tell the paralytic, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee (Jn. 5:14). Now they see the blind man and wonder, “The paralytic was punished because of his sins; but what do You say about this man? How could he have been punished for his sins? He was blind from birth. Did his parents sin? That also cannot be, for a child is not punished for his father’s sins.”

Thus their question was an expression of perplexity, which the Lord dispels by explaining, “Neither hath this man sinned, (how could he before he was born?) nor his parents.” Christ does not say simply, “His parents did not sin,” implying that they were without fault; He adds, that he was born blind. His parents did sin, but that was not the cause of his blindness. It would be unjust to charge the sins of parents to the children, who have done nothing wrong. God makes this clear through the words of the prophet Ezekiel (18:2): “Let this parable no longer be spoken, The fathers have eaten unripe grapes, and the children’s teeth shall be set on edge.” The Lord also gave this commandment, through Moses: And the sons shall not be put to death for the fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin (Dt. 24:18). But some might object, “Yet it is written, I am the Lord thy God, a jealous God, recompensing the sins of the fathers upon the children, to the third and fourth generation (Ex. 20:5).” It must be understood that this is not a universal decree applying to all men at all times, but only to those who came out of Egypt. Also, the meaning of the decree must be considered carefully. It does not say that the children are punished for the sins of their fathers, but rather that the sins of the fathers—meaning, the punishments for their sins—will be “recompensed” upon their children. This is because the children have committed the same sins as the fathers. The Lord did not want those who came out of Egypt to think that if they committed the same or worse sins than their fathers they would not be punished. Another way to put it is: “The sins of your fathers (that is, the penalty for their sins,) will come upon you also, because you did not become better than they, but have committed the same, and even worse.” Even when you see infants taken from this life, you must understand clearly that God cut their life short out of love for man. Had they lived, they would have become worse than their parents and filled their own souls, and the souls of many others, with wickedness. But all this is hidden in the abyss of God’s judgments. Let us now continue.

3–5. Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. I must work the works of Him that sent Me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. Now another perplexity arises. One might ask, “How could Christ say this? Was it not unjust to deprive this man of his sight so that the works of God should be made manifest in him? Could not these works have been revealed some other way?” We would answer, “How have you been treated unjustly, O man?” “I have been robbed of light,” he replies. “But what harm did you suffer by being deprived of material light? Now you have received not only physical vision, but that incomparable blessing—the enlightenment of the eyes of your soul.” Thus the affliction was to the blind man’s benefit, and through his healing he came to know the true Sun of Righteousness. Therefore, the blind man was not wronged; he was blessed.

Now, understand this as well, every student of Divine Scripture: the conjunctions ἵνα and ὅπως (both translated in English as “that”) are often used to express the outcome, but not the intended result, of the action stated in the main clause. Thus David says, Against Thee only have I sinned, … that Thou mightest be justified in Thy words (Ps. 50:4). The word that introduces a result unintended by David. When David sinned, he did not do so with the purpose in mind of justifying God; but his sinning did result in God being justified. David proved himself unworthy of all that God had given him: he abused his royal power, committed murder and adultery, violated divine commandments, and showed contempt for God. Taking advantage of his kingship, David spurned the laws of the One Who made him king. Had he been a commoner, he would have been unable to commit the two great sins so easily. Once the Lord had examined and decided his case, the necessary consequence of David’s crimes was that God was justified and had prevailed over the king who was condemned. There are many places in the Epistles where such expressions are used. In Romans Paul writes, “Because that which may be known of God is manifest to the Greeks, for God hath showed it unto them, making His eternal power and Godhead . . . understood by the things that are made, . . . so that they are without excuse (Rom. 1:19-20).” God did not give this knowledge to the Greeks in order to deprive them of any excuse when they sinned. He gave it to them so that they would not sin. When they did sin, their knowledge of the Creator manifest in His creation rendered them guilty without excuse. Likewise, in another place Paul says, The law entered, that the offense might abound (Rom. 5:20), although the law certainly was not given in order to make sin more prevalent, but just the opposite, to keep it in check. But because the recipients of the law did not want to restrain their sin, the law—defining what is a transgression—resulted in sin “abounding.” They considered their sins to be greater and more numerous because they sinned with full knowledge of the law.

In light of all this, Jesus’ words here, that the works of God should be made manifest, do not supply the reason why the man was born blind, but state the consequence—good came from evil, to the glory of God. Let us suppose that a man builds a house but leaves one portion of it unfinished, for this reason: at a later time, if anyone should question if he were the builder, he could  dispel any doubt on this score by completing the unfinished part to match perfectly with the original. In like manner, Jesus our God fashioned all the members of the blind man’s body except for the eyes, which He omitted. By healing them now, He completes the divine act of creating and demonstrates that He is the Creator. When He said, “that the glory of God should be made manifest,” He was referring to Himself, not the Father. The glory of the Father was obvious; it was His own glory, equal to the Father’s, that needed to be revealed. For He Who now appears as a man, in the beginning fashioned man. That He is speaking about Himself becomes clear from what follows: “I must work the works of Him that sent Me. I must reveal Myself by doing the very same works as the Father.” Note that He does not say, “I must do works similar to the Father’s,” but “ works identical to those done by the Father Who sent Me. I must do them while it is day, that is, during this present life, when men can choose to believe in Me. For the night cometh, when no man can work, that is, believe. In the age to come, it will be too late to believe.” Day means this present life, when we are able to work, as we do during the day. But, elsewhere in Scripture, Paul calls life night, because we cannot know in this life whether a man pursues virtue or wickedness—his thoughts and motives are hidden from us. Moreover, Paul calls this life night by comparison to the daylight of the age to come, in which the righteous will shine. Christ refers to the age to come as night, when no man can work; Paul calls this day, since the righteous will be illumined and the deeds of each revealed. In the age to come there will be no faith, but only obedience—voluntary or involuntary. “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world,” says Christ, “because I enlighten souls by My teaching and miracles. By healing the blind man’s eyes and giving them light, I shall enlighten the souls of many. I am Light, and I illumine both the senses and the spirit.”

6–7. 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. 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. Some say that the clay was not removed, but was fashioned into eyes.

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, with this order, the Lord confounds the Jews who wilfully rejected Him. 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.

8–11. The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged? Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he. Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight. Staggered by this extraordinary miracle, the neighbors still did not believe. Yet the blind man’s arriving at the Pool of Siloam, his eyes smeared with mud, was ordained by the Lord for the express purpose of drawing the attention of many onlookers, who later would be unable to deny that they knew the man. But they disbelieved nevertheless. The Evangelist does not simply remark in passing that the man was a beggar: he does so to show that the Lord’s love for mankind was so inexpressibly great that He condescended to help the most abject of men. With tender solicitude He healed beggars, teaching us to care for the least of our brethren. Unashamed of his former affliction, unafraid of the crowd, the blind man boldly confesses, I am he, and proclaims his benefactor: A man that is called Jesus…. He calls the Lord a man because he knows nothing about Him. But what he does know (of the circumstances of the healing), he confesses to all. How did he know that his healer was Jesus? He had heard the Lord conversing with His disciples. When the disciples asked about the blind man, Christ repeated what He often told them, such as, I must work the works of Him that sent Me (v. 4), and, I am the light of the world (v. 5), and so forth. These were things that no one except the Lord taught, and from them the blind man understood that this was Jesus. That Christ had made clay and anointed his eyes, the blind man knew by feeling; of the spittle, he said nothing because he did not yet know about it. What he did not know, he did not mention, so truthful a man was he.

12–16. Then said they unto him, Where is He? He said, I know not. They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind. And it was the Sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes. Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see. Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the Sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them. After the Lord had healed or worked some other miracle, He would withdraw from that place to avoid ostentation. This is why the Jews ask the blind man, Where is He? He answers, I know not, for he is always truthful. They brought him to the Pharisees for closer and harsher questioning. The Evangelist emphasizes that it was the Sabbath day in order to reveal their evil intent as they grasp for allegations to make against Christ. By accusing the Lord of breaking the Sabbath, they hoped to divert attention from the miracle. They demand, “How did He open your eyes?” rather than simply asking, “How did you receive your sight?” compelling the blind man to admit that Jesus had made clay on the Sabbath. For they continuously accused the Lord of violating the Sabbath. But because he had already given this information to the people who were listening to him, he does not mention Jesus’ name, nor what the Lord said to him. He explains merely, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see. It is likely that the people who brought the blind man had slandered the Lord by telling the Pharisees, “Look what Jesus is doing on the Sabbath.” Note the blind man’s boldness when speaking with the Pharisees. The Jews brought him to the Pharisees so that he would become frightened and deny the healing. But he cries out, “I do see!” Therefore said some of the Pharisees, not all of them, but the most insolent, This man is not of God. But others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles?

Behold how the attitude of many of them softens as a result of the miracles. They are Pharisees and rulers, yet they begin to be won over by this sign, and to take Christ’s side, so that there was a division among them. The division appeared earlier in the crowd, when some of the people said, He deceiveth the people, while others said, He is a good man (see Jn. 7:12, 43).” But now the division arises between the rulers, and many Pharisees take issue with their fellows and speak in Christ’s defense. Although they took His side, they did so weakly, and without conviction. Hear what they say: “How can a man that is a sinner do such things?” See how feeble is their resistance, how cunning His accusers! Rather than say, “This man is not of God, because He heals on the Sabbath,” the crafty Pharisees object, He keepeth not the Sabbath day. Not once do they mention the good deed, but only the violation of the Sabbath. Note this as well: the rulers are more reluctant than the people to admit the good Christ did. From the start a difference of opinion is evident among the common folk, with many supporting Christ. Only later did this praiseworthy division appear among the rulers. I call it “praiseworthy,” because there are good separations and justifiable schisms. The Lord says, “I came to send a sword on the earth (see Mt. 10:34).” The sword means the salutary divergence of opinion that may arise when true reverence for God is at stake.

17–19. They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of Him, that He hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet. But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight. And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? How then doth he now see? Which of the two groups of Pharisees asked the blind man, What sayest thou of Him? The one inclined to judge Christ fairly. Having posed the question, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? they now bring forward the beneficiary of the Lord’s power, in defense of Christ and as a living refutation of the Lord’s slanderers. This faction of the Pharisees did not demand, “What do you have to say about that lawbreaker who dared to make clay on the Sabbath?” Instead, they speak kindly to the blind man, even mentioning the miracle. They admit that He hath opened thine eyes, as if to encourage him to speak openly on Christ’s behalf. They actually prompt him to declare that Jesus opened his eyes. “After what Jesus did for you,” they say, “you ought to proclaim Him to all.” Therefore, the blind man confesses Christ as far as his knowledge of Him permits, stating that his benefactor is not a sinner but is from God. He affirms that Jesus is a prophet, while the evil contingent of Pharisees continues to insist that this man is not of God, because he keepeth not the Sabbath day. To them, Christ was a violator of the Sabbath because He applied clay with one finger. Never mind that they, with their whole hand, loosed their animals on the Sabbath and led them to water! These hard and obstinate men call for the blind man’s parents, meaning to bully them into denying their son’s blindness. Unable to silence the grateful blind man, they try instead to intimidate his parents and impugn the miracle. They interrogate them angrily, but with the utmost cunning. They do not say, “Is this your son, who was once blind?” but instead, who ye say was born blind. The implication is that the parents spread the story that he was blind, when in fact he was not. O wretched Pharisees, what father would spread such a lie about his own child? From two sides the Pharisees hedge in the parents and press them to repudiate their son: they make an insinuation, who ye say was born blind; then they demand, How then doth he now see? The Pharisees pretend that the very fact the blind man could see is evidence that the parents were lying earlier when they said he was born blind. “Either he cannot see now, or he was never blind. But obviously he sees now—so you are liars!”

20–23. His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind. But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself. These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that He was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him. The Pharisees had put three questions to the parents of the blind man: “Is he your son? Was he born blind? And how did he gain his sight?” To the first two they assert: “He is our son, and he was born blind.” Concerning how he was healed they are silent, because they do not know. Without doubt this took place for the greater confirmation of the truth; for the man who received the benefit of the miracle, and was the most credible of all the witnesses, said exactly the same. Then the parents add, “He is of age; he is not an infant, or so immature as not to understand how he was healed.” These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews. They were still weak in faith and more faint-hearted than their son, who proved to be a steadfast witness to the truth. As a reward, God also illumined the eyes of his mind.

24–29. Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the glory: we know that this man is a sinner. He answered and said, Whether He be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see. Then said they to him again, What did He to thee? How opened He thine eyes? He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? Will ye also be His disciples? Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art His disciple; but we are Moses’ disciples. We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence He is. At the parents’ suggestion, the insolent Pharisees had the blind man brought to them again, not for further questioning, but to intimidate him into denying his Healer. Their words, Give God the glory, mean, “Confess that Jesus did nothing to you—by not attributing anything good to Jesus, you give glory to God.” We know, they say, that this man is a sinner. Why, then, O Pharisees, did you not accuse Him when He challenged you, Which of you convinceth Me of sin (Jn. 8:46)? But the blind man answers them, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not; that is, “It is not mine to decide this now, nor even to consider it. Of one thing I am certain: He did work a miracle for me. Ponder this single fact, and it will dispel your perplexity.” By asking him again, What did He to thee? they attack the Saviour for anointing with clay on the Sabbath. The blind man understood that they were not interested in his answer, but only wanted to revile Jesus, and so he rebuked them, saying: “I no longer wish to speak with you. I answered you many times and ye did not hear.” Then he added these words, which cut them to the quick: Will ye also be His disciples? By this he lets it be known that he wants to become Christ’s disciple. Teasing and jesting with them, he speaks calmly, not in the least cowed by their rage. They answer with insult, Thou art His disciple; but we are Moses’ disciples. Again they lie. Had they been Moses’ disciples, they would also have been Christ’s, as the Lord told them: Had ye believed in Moses, ye would have believed Me (Jn. 5:46). They did not say, “We have heard,” but, we know that God spake unto Moses. It was their forebears who told them this, yet they claim to have certain knowledge of what they had learned only by hearing. When, however, they see with their own eyes Christ working miracles, and hear Him speaking divine words from heaven, they called Him an imposter (see Jn. 7:12). Do you see how malice leads to madness?

30–33. The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence He is, and yet He hath opened mine eyes. Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth His will, him He heareth. Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. If this man were not of God, He could do nothing. “You Jews reject the One Who healed me,” he says, “ because you know not from whence He is. But the very fact that He is not among those you deem illustrious makes it even more remarkable that He can do such things. Clearly, He has some greater power and needs no help from man.” Then the blind man answers those who had said earlier, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles (v. 16)? turning their own words against them: “We all know,” he says, “that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth His will, him He heareth.” Note that he not only declares the Lord to be free of sin, but indicates that He is highly pleasing to God and that all that He does is of God, by saying, If any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth His will, him He heareth. Knowing well that the Pharisees were intent on covering up the miracle, the blind man, with full understanding, proclaims the beneficent deed: “If He were not of God, He could not have worked such a miracle, unlike any other since the world began.” Others had opened the eyes of those who had lost their sight because of disease, but never of someone blind from birth. What occurred here is without precedent. Clearly, the worker of this miracle has greater power than any man.

Some, applying cold and formal logic, have expressed this doubt: “How can the blind man say that God heareth not sinners? As the Lover of man, God most certainly hears those who pray that their sins be forgiven.” It is unnecessary to respond to this, except to point out that the words, God heareth not sinners, mean that God does not grant sinners the power to work miracles; for the Spirit of God does not dwell in a body that is subject unto sin (Wis. 1:4). But God does hear the prayers of those who with heartfelt repentance ask forgiveness of their sins; but He hears them as penitents, not as sinners. As soon as they ask forgiveness, they move from the rank of sinners to that of penitents. It is, therefore, certainly true that God heareth not sinners; neither does He give to sinners the grace to work miracles. When unrepentant sinners ask Him for this power, they are grasping for something that does not belong to them. How could God heed those whom He rejects? Consider how the blind man said, If any man be a worshipper of God, then added, and doeth His will. Many are God-fearing, but fail to do the will of God. One must fear God and do His will. Both faith and works are necessary; or, as Paul says, faith and a good conscience (see I Tim. 1:5); or, to express it in the most exalted terms, divine vision and active virtue (θεωρία καὶ πράξις). Faith truly comes alive only when accompanied by God-pleasing deeds. These foster a good conscience, just as wicked deeds an evil conscience. Likewise, works are enlivened by faith. Apart from one another, both are dead. As it is written in another place, Faith without works is dead (Jam. 2:20)—and so are works without faith. Behold how truth bestows on a beggar, unused to public debate, the power to confess Christ boldly and to rebuke the high and mighty among the Jews! Great is the power of truth; so restricted and feeble is falsehood.

34–38. They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out. Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said unto him, Dost thou believe in the Son of God? He answered and said, Who is He, Lord, that I might believe in Him? And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen Him, and it is He that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped Him. As long as they still had hope the blind man would say something of use to them, the Pharisees called on him and questioned him more than once. But when they realized by his answers that he did not think as they did, but took the side of truth, they despised and rejected him as one born in sins. Quite foolishly do they refer to his blindness, thinking that he had been condemned before he was born and was punished with blindness at birth. This is nonsense. These sons of falsehood expelled from the temple the confessor of truth, but it was to his benefit. Cast out of the temple, he was at once found by the master of the temple. Apparently dishonored for Christ’s sake, he was honored by the knowledge of the Son of God. Jesus found him, the Evangelist says, implying that He had come for just this purpose—to console the blind man, as the judge of a contest consoles an athlete after the agony of his exertion by placing on his head the crown of victory. The Lord inquires, Dost thou believe in the Son of God? Why does He ask this? After such a vigorous dispute with the Pharisees, after the bold words he had spoken, can there be any doubt that he believes? The Lord asks the question, not because He is uncertain whether the man believes, but in order to reveal Himself to him. For the blind man had never seen Christ, even after his healing. How could he have, when he was straightway harried by the Jews, as if by vicious dogs? The Lord asks this question now, so that the blind man’s response—“And who is He, this Son of God?”—would provide the opportune moment to reveal Himself. At the same time the Lord shows that He highly honors the faith of the blind man. “The people reviled Me greatly, but their words mean nothing to Me,” He says. “One thing matters, that you believe.” The blind man’s question, “Who is He, Lord, this Son of God?” reveals his ardent desire. The Lord answered, Thou hast both seen Him, and it is He that talketh with thee. He does not say, “It is I Who healed you and said to you, ‘Go, wash.’” He begins enigmatically, Thou hast … seen Him; then He continues more openly, and it is He that talketh with thee. The Lord first said to him, Thou … hast seen Him, to remind the blind man of the healing and to help him recognize that he had received his sight from the One Who now stood before him. And the blind man at once believes, showing his fervent and true faith by falling prostrate before Him, thus confirming his own word by his deed and giving glory to Jesus as God. For according to the law, worship must be rendered to God alone (see Dt. 6:13).

Understand also the spiritual meaning of this miracle. Every man is blind from birth, as a result of being brought into existence by coition, and being yoked thereby to corruption. From the moment we were punished with mortality and our race was condemned to increase by a passionate means of conception, a thick cloud covered our noetic eyes, like a cloak of flesh, as the Scriptures say (see Gen. 1:21). The Gentiles are “blind from birth” in another sense: they made gods of what is subject to birth and corruption, and consequently were blinded, as Paul says, and their foolish heart was darkened (Rom. 1:21). Just as blind were the Persian magi, who wasted their lives with horoscopes and astrological predictions. The blind man whom Jesus saw (Jn. 9:1) therefore represents all men, and the Gentiles in particular. He was unable to see his Creator, so God Himself, the Dayspring from on high, through His tender mercy visited him (Lk. 1:28). How did Jesus “see the blind man”? As He passed by (Jn. 9:1), which means, not while the Lord was in heaven, but when He came among us by His Incarnation. Humbling Himself and accepting limitation, He bent down from heaven, as the Prophet David says, to see all the sons of men (see Ps. 13:3; 32:13). Although He came, first and foremost, to the lost sheep of the sons of Israel (Mt. 10:5-6; 15:24), He also “passed by” and saw the Gentiles; for the secondary purpose of His coming was to visit the people which sat in the darkness (Mt. 4:16) of complete ignorance.  And how does He heal their blindness? By spitting on the ground and making clay. If it helps you to believe, consider how God the Word descended upon the holy Virgin like a rain-drop falling upon the ground (see Ps. 71:6), and anointed the eyes of the mind with clay made from spittle and the earth. This clay is the one Christ in two natures—the divine nature, symbolized by the rain-drop and the spittle, and the human nature, symbolized by the earth from which came the body of the Lord. Do men receive healing merely by believing? Certainly not: they must first go to Siloam, which is the spring of Baptism, to be baptized into Him Who sends them there, namely, Christ. For as many of us as have been baptized spiritually have been baptized into Christ (Gal. 3:27).

After a man has been baptized, temptations will beset him. He shall be brought before governors and kings (Mt. 10:18), as it were, because of his allegiance to Christ Who healed him. He must then hold steadfastly to his confession, never denying it out of fear, but willing to be denounced and excommunicated, as it is written, Ye shall be hated by all nations for My name’s sake (Mt. 24:9), and, They shall put you out of the synagogues (Jn. 16:12). Even if this confessor is cast out by men who hate the truth, and driven from their temples and the places of honor, (meaning, he is deprived of wealth and glory,) Jesus will find him. Then he who was abused by his enemies will be highly honored by Christ. The Lord will bestow upon him knowledge and a more exact faith, and the confessor will fall prostrate and worship Christ, Who appears as a man but is also the Son of God. For there are not two sons—one, the Son of God, and another, the son of Mary (this is the blasphemous doctrine of Nestorius)—but one and the same Son, of both God and man. See how the Lord answered the blind man when he asked, “Who is the Son of God, that I might believe in Him?” Thou hast both seen Him, Christ says, and it is He that talketh with thee. Who gave this answer? Was it not the Son born of Mary? But this Son of Mary is also the Son of God, not two different persons. Therefore the holy Mary is truly the Theotokos, the Birthgiver of God, who bore the Son of God made flesh. He is undivided, and the two are One—Christ the Lord.

39–41. And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might become blind. And some of the Pharisees which were with Him heard these words, and said unto Him, Are we blind also? Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin; but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth. The Lord saw that the Pharisees harmed themselves by rejecting the benefit of this miracle, and therefore deserved greater condemnation. Appraising events by their outcome, He declares, For judgment I am come, meaning, “for the greater condemnation and punishment of My enemies, that they which see not might see; and that they which see, such as the Pharisees, might become blind in the eyes of their soul.” Behold, the man blind from birth sees both spiritually and physically, while those who think they see are blind noetically. In this verse, the Lord speaks of two kinds of vision and two kinds of blindness, but the Pharisees, who are always fixated on the material world, think He means only a material affliction. Are we blind also? they ask, fearing only physical blindness. The Lord desires to show them that it is better to be blind physically than to lack faith, saying, “If ye were blind, ye should have no sin. If blindness were your natural condition, you would have some excuse for being ill with unbelief. But you insist that you can see; furthermore, you are eyewitnesses of the miraculous healing of the blind man. Because you suffer from self-inflicted unbelief, you deserve no forgiveness. Your sin remains unabsolved, and you will undergo greater punishment, because you refuse to acknowledge the truth even after seeing such wonders.” The words, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin, may also be understood as follows. “You seem afraid only of physical blindness, but I warn you of spiritual blindness. If ye were blind, that is, ignorant of the Scriptures, ye should have no sin; that is, you would be sinning in ignorance. But since you say that you see, and consider yourselves wise and learned in the law, you condemn yourselves and have the greater sin, because you sin deliberately, with knowledge.”

Ἅγ.Ἰωάννης Χρυσόστομος-Ομιλία εις την Κυριακή του τυφλού

«Καί διερχόμενος ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶδεν ἄνθρωπον τυφλόν ἐκ γενετῆς. Καί ἠρώτησαν αὐτόν οἱ μαθηταί του, λέγοντες· Διδάσκαλε, ποῖος ἥμαρτεν, αὐτός ἤ οἱ γονεῖς του, ὥστε νά γεννηθῇ τυφλός;»
1.«Καί διερχόμενος ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶδεν ἄνθρωπον τυφλόν ἐκ γενετῆς». Ἐπειδή εἶναι πάρα πολύ φιλάνθρωπος καί φροντίζει διά τήν σωτηρίαν μας καί θέλων νά κλείσῃ τά στόματα τῶν ἀχαρίστων, δέν παραλείπει νά κάνῃ ἀπό ἐκεῖνα πού ἔπρεπε νά κάνῃ καί ἄν ἀκόμη κανείς δέν τόν ἐπρόσεχεν. Αὐτό λοιπόν γνωρίζων καλά καί ὁ προφήτης ἔλεγεν· «Διά νά δικαιωθῇς μέ τούς λόγους σου καί νά νικήσῃς μέ τήν κρίσιν σου» (Ψαλμ. 50,6). Διά τοῦτο λοιπόν καί ἐδῶ, ἐπειδή δέν ἐδέχθησαν τό ὑψηλόν νόημα τῶν λόγων του, ἀλλά τόν ὠνόμασαν καί δαιμονισμένον καί ἐπεχείρουν καί νά τόν φονεύσουν, ἀφοῦ ἐξῆλθεν ἀπό τόν ναόν, θεραπεύει τόν τυφλόν, καί καταπραύνων τήν ὀργήν των μέ τήν ἀπουσίαν του καί μέ τήν πραγματοποίησιν τοῦ θαύματος μαλακώνων τήν σκληρότητα καί τήν ἀσπλαχνίαν των καί κάμνων πιστευτούς τούς λόγους του· καί τό θαῦμα πού κάμνει δέν εἶναι τυχαῖον, ἀλλά τότε συνέβη διά πρώτην φοράν. Καθ̉ ὅσον λέγει· «Ποτέ πρίν δέν ἠκούσθη, ὅτι ἤνοιξε κάποιος τούς ὀφθαλμούς τυφλοῦ ἐκ γενετῆς» (Ἰω. 9,32)· διότι ἴσως κάποιος νά ἤνοιξε τούς ὀφθαλμούς τυφλοῦ, ἐκ γενετῆς ὅμως ὄχι ἀκόμη. Καί τό ὅτι ἐξελθών ἀπό τόν ναόν, ἦλθεν ἐπίτηδες νά κάνῃ τό θαῦμα γίνεται φανερόν ἀπό τό ἑξῆς· αὐτός δηλαδή εἶδε τόν τυφλόν, καί δέν προσῆλθε πρός αὐτόν ὁ τυφλός, καί μέ τόσην προσοχήν τόν εἶδεν, ὥστε καί εἰς τούς μαθητάς νά κάνῃ ἐντύπωσιν. Ἐξ αἰτίας αὐτοῦ λοιπόν ἔσπευσαν νά τόν ἐρωτήσουν· διότι, βλέποντες αὐτόν νά τόν βλέπῃ μέ τόσην προσοχήν, ἐζητοῦσαν νά μάθουν, λέγοντες· «Ποῖος ἥμαρτεν, αὐτός ἤ οἱ γονεῖς του;». Ἐσφαλμένη ἡ ἐρώτησις· διότι πῶς ἦτο δυνατόν ν̉ ἁμαρτήσῃ πρίν γεννηθῇ; πῶς δέ, ἄν ἡμάρτησαν οἱ γονεῖς του, ἦτο δυνατόν αὐτός νά τιμωρηθῇ; Διατί λοιπόν ἔκαμαν αὐτήν τήν ἐρώτησιν; Πρίν ἀπό αὐτό τό θαῦμα, θεραπεύων τόν παράλυτον, ἔλεγεν· «Νά ἔγινες ὑγιής· μή ἁμαρτάνῃς εἰς τό ἑξῆς» (Ἰω. 5,14).

Αὐτοί λοιπόν ἀντιληφθέντες ὅτι ἐκεῖνος ἔγινε παράλυτος ἐξ αἰτίας τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν του, τοῦ λέγουν· «Ἔστω, ἐκεῖνος ἔγινεν παράλυτος ἐξ αἰτίας τῶν ἁμαρτημάτων του, δι̉ αὐτόν ὅμως τί θά ἠμποροῦσες νά εἰπῇς; αὐτός ἥμαρτεν; Ἀλλά δέν ἠμπορεῖς νά τό εἰπῆς, διότι εἶναι τυφλός ἐκ γενετῆς. Μήπως ὅμως ἥμαρτον οἱ γονεῖς του; Ἀλλ̉ οὔτε αὐτό, διότι τό παιδί δέν τιμωρεῖται διά τάς ἀδικίας τοῦ πατρός του» Ὅπως ἀκριβῶς λοιπόν, βλέποντες κάποιο παιδί νά εὑρίσκεται εἰς ἀθλίαν κατάστασιν, λέγομεν, «Τί θά ἠμποροῦσε κανείς νά εἰπῇ δι̉ αὐτό; τί ἔκαμε τό παιδί»; χωρίς νά ἐρωτῶμεν, ἀλλά ἐκφράζομεν ἀπορίαν, ἔτσι λοιπόν καί οἱ μαθηταί, δέν τό ἔλεγον αὐτό τόσο ὑπό μορφήν ἐρωτήσεως ἀλλά ἀπορίας. Τί ἀπαντᾶ λοιπόν ὁ Χριστός; «Οὔτε αὐτός ἥμαρτεν, οὔτε οἱ γονεῖς του». Αὐτό δέ δέν τό λέγει ἀπαλλάσσων αὐτούς ἀπό τάς ἁμαρτίας (Διότι δέν εἶπεν ἁπλῶς, «Οὔτε αὐτός ἥμαρτεν, οὔτε οἱ γονεῖς του», ἀλλά ἐπρόσθεσεν, «Διά νά γεννηθῇ τυφλός»), ἀλλά γιά νά δοξασθῇ ὁ Υἱός τοῦ Θεοῦ· ἡμάρτησε βέβαια καί αὐτός καί οἱ γονεῖς του, ἀλλά δέν προέρχεται, λέγει, ἀπό αὐτήν τήν αἰτίαν ἡ τύφλωσις.

Αὐτά δέ τά ἔλεγεν ὄχι γιά νά δείξῃ αὐτό, ὅτι δηλαδή αὐτός μέν δέν ἐτυφλώθη δι̉ αὐτήν τήν αἰτίαν, ἐνῶ ὡρισμένοι ἄλλοι ἐτυφλώθησαν ἐξ αἰτίας αὐτῶν τῶν αἰτιῶν, ἐξ αἰτίας τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν τῶν γονέων των· καθ̉ ὅσον δέν εἶναι δυνατόν ν̉ ἁμαρτάνῃ ἄλλος καί νά τιμωρῆται ἄλλος. Διότι ἐάν τό παραδεχθῶμεν αὐτό, κατ̉ ἀνάγκην θά παραδεχθῶμεν καί ἐκεῖνο, ὅτι δηλαδή ἡμάρτησε πρίν γεννηθῇ. Ὅπως ἀκριβῶς λοιπόν εἰπών, ὅτι «οὔτε αὐτός ἥμαρτεν», δέν ἐννοεῖ αὐτό, ὅτι δηλαδή εἶναι δυνατόν ἐκ γενετῆς ν̉ ἀμαρτήσῃ καί τιμωρηθῇ, ἔτσι εἰπών· «Οὔτε οἱ γονεῖς αὐτοῦ», δέ ἐννοεῖ αὐτό, ὅτι δηλαδή εἶναι δυνατόν νά τιμωρηθῇ ἐξ αἰτίας τῶν γονέων του· καθ̉ ὅσον διά τοῦ Ἰεζεκιήλ ἀναιρεῖ αὐτήν τήν σκέψιν «Ὁρκίζομαι εἰς τόν ἑαυτόν μου, λέγει ὁ Κύριος, ὅτι δέν θά λέγεται αὐτή ἡ παροιμία, οἱ πατέρες ἔφαγον ἄγορα σταφύλια καί ἐμωδίασαν τά δόντια τῶν παιδιῶν των» (Ἰεζ. 18,3´2). Καί ὁ Μωϋσῆς δέ λέγει· «Δέν θά ἀποθάνῃ ὁ πατέρας ἐξ αἰτίας τοῦ υἱοῦ του» (Δευτ. 24,16). Καί διά κάποιο βασιλέα λέγεται ὅτι, δι̉ αὐτόν τόν λόγον δέν τό ἔκαμεν αὐτό, φυλάσσων τόν νόμον τοῦ Μωϋσέως (Δ´ Βασ. 14,6). Ἐάν δέ λέγῃ κάποιος, πῶς λοιπόν ἐλέχθη «Αὐτός πού καταλογίζει ἁμαρτίας γονέων εἰς τά τέκνα μέχρι τρίτην καί τετάρτην γενεάν»; (Δευτ. 5,9) ἐκεῖνο θά ἠμπορούσαμεν νά εἰποῦμεν, ὅτι ἡ ἀπόφασις αὐτή δέν ἐλέχθη δι̉ ὅλους, ἀλλά δι̉ ἐκείνους πού ἐξῆλθον ἀπό τήν Αἴγυπτον. Αὐτό δέ πού ἐννοεῖ εἶναι τό ἑξῆς· Ἐπειδή αὐτοί πού ἐξῆλθον ἀπό τήν Αἴγυπτον εἶχον γίνει μετά τά σημεῖα καί θαύματα χειρότεροι ἀπό τούς προγόνους των πού δέν εἶδαν κανένα ἀπό αὐτά, τά ἴδια, λέγει, θά πάθουν πού ἔπαθον ἐκεῖνοι, ἐπειδή διέπραξαν τά ἴδια παραπτώματα. Καί τό ὅτι ἐλέχθη δι̉ ἐκείνους θά τό διαπιστώσῃ κανείς ἐάν ἐξετάσῃ ἀκριβέστερον τό χωρίον.

Διά ποῖον λόγον λοιπόν ἐγεννήθη τυφλός; «Διά νά φανερωθῇ ἡ δόξα τοῦ Θεοῦ», λέγει. Νά καί πάλιν ἄλλη ἀπορία, ἐάν λοιπόν δέν ἦταν δυνατόν νά φανῇ ἡ δόξα τοῦ Θεοῦ χωρίς τήν τιμωρίαν αὐτοῦ. Βέβαια δέν ἐλέχθη αὐτό, ὅτι δέν ἦτο δυνατόν (διότι ἦτο δυνατόν), ἀλλά διά νά φανερωθῇ καί εἰς αὐτόν. Τί λοιπόν, λέγει, ἠδικήθη διά τήν δόξαν τοῦ Θεοῦ; Ποίαν ἀδικίαν; εἰπέ μου· διότι ἐάν ἤθελεν οὔτε κἄν θά τόν ἔφερεν εἰς τήν ζωήν. Ἐγώ ὅμως λέγω, ὅτι καί εὐηργετήθη ἀπό τήν τύφλωσιν, καθ̉ ὅσον ἀνέβλεψε μέ τούς ἐσωτερικούς ὀφθαλμούς· διότι τί ὠφελήθησαν οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι ἀπό τούς σωματικούς ὀφθαλμούς; (διότι ἐτιμωρήθησαν χειρότερα, ἀφοῦ ἐτυφλώθησαν ὡς πρός τούς ἐσωτερικούς ὀφθαλμούς)· ποία δέ ἡ βλάβη εἰς αὐτόν ἀπό τήν τύφλωσιν; Διότι μέ τήν τύφλωσίν του αὐτήν ἀνέβλεψεν. Ὅπως ἀκριβῶς λοιπόν τά κακά δέν εἶναι κακά, δηλαδή τά κακά τῆς παρούσης ζωῆς, ἔτσι οὔτε τά ἀγαθά δέν εἶναι ἀγαθά, ἀλλά κακόν εἶναι μόνον ἡ ἁμαρτία, ἐνῶ ἡ τύφλωσις δέν εἶναι κακόν. Αὐτός δέ πού τόν ἔφερεν εἰς τήν ζωήν ἀπό τήν ἀνυπαρξίαν, ἐξουσίαν εἶχεν καί νά τόν ἀφήσῃ εἰς αὐτήν τήν κατάστασιν. Μερικοί δέ λέγουν, ὅτι αὐτή ἡ φράσις δέν ἔχει αἰτιολογικόν χαρακτῆρα, ἀλλ̉ ἐκφράζει τό ἀποτέλεσμα, ὅπως ἐπί παραδείγματι ὅταν λέγῃ· «Ἐγώ ἦλθα εἰς αὐτόν τόν κόσμον διά κρίσιν, διά ν̉ ἀποκτήσουν τό φῶς των ἐκεῖνοι, πού δέν βλέπουν καί νά γίνουν τυφλοί αὐτοί πού βλέπουν», (Ἰω. 9, 39) (καί ὅμως δέν ἦλθεν δι̉ αὐτόν τόν λόγον, διά νά γίνουν δηλαδή τυφλοί αὐτοί πού βλέπουν). Καί πάλιν ὁ Παῦλος λέγει· «Αὐτό πού εἶναι δυνατόν νά γίνῃ γνωστόν περί τοῦ Θεοῦ τούς εἶναι φανερόν, ὥστε νά εἶναι ἀδικαιολόγητοι» (Ρωμ. 1, 19-20) (ἄν καί βέβαια δέν ἐφανέρωσε εἰς αὐτούς τά περί ἑαυτοῦ δι̉ αὐτόν τόν λόγον, διά νά στερηθοῦν τήν ἀπολογίαν, ἀλλά διά νά τύχουν ἀπολογίας). Καί πάλιν ἀλλοῦ λέγει· «Ὁ νόμος δέ ἐδόθη διά νά πλεονάσουν τά παραπτώματα» (Ρωμ. 5,20) (μολονότι βέβαια δέν εἰσῆλθεν εἰς τήν ζωήν τῶν ἀνθρώπων δι̉ αὐτόν τόν λόγον, ἀλλά διά νά ἐμποδισθῇ ἡ ἁμαρτία).

2. Βλέπεις εἰς ὅλας τάς περιπτώσεις ὅτι ὁ προσδιορισμός δεικνύει τό ἀποτέλεσμα; Διότι ὅπως ἀκριβῶς ἕνας ἄριστος οἰκοδόμος, τό μέν ἕνα τμῆμα τῆς οἰκίας τό κατασκευάζει, τό δέ ἄλλο τό ἀφήνει ἀτελείωτον, ὥστε μέ τό ὑπόλοιπον νά ἀπολογηθῇ πρός αὐτούς πού δέν πιστεύουν δι̉ ὅλον τό ἔργον του, ἔτσι καί ὁ Θεός, ὡσάν μίαν οἰκίαν ἑτοιμόρροπον, συγκολλεῖ τό σῶμα μας καί τό τελειοποιεῖ, θεραπεύων τήν ξηράν χεῖρα, δίδων ζωήν εἰς παράλυτα μέλη, θεραπεύων τούς χωλούς, καθαρίζων τούς λεπρούς, θεραπεύων τούς ἀσθενεῖς, καθιστῶν ἀρτιμελεῖς τούς ἀναπήρους, ἐπαναφέρων εἰς τήν ζωήν ἀπό τόν θάνατον τούς νεκρούς, διανοίγων τούς ὀφθαλμούς τῶν τυφλῶν καί δίδων ὀφθαλμούς εἰς ἐκείνους πού δέν ἔχουν, καί διορθώνων ὅλα αὐτά, πού ἦσαν ἀτέλειαι τῆς ἐκ φύσεως ἀσθενείας, ἐδείκνυε τήν δύναμίν του. Εἰπών δέ, «Διά νά φανερωθῇ ἡ δόξα τοῦ Θεοῦ», ἐννοεῖ τόν ἑαυτόν του καί ὄχι τόν Πατέρα, διότι ἡ δόξα ἐκείνου ἦτο φανερά. Ἐπειδή λοιπόν ἤκουον ὅτι ὁ Θεός ἔπλασε τόν ἄνθρωπον ἀφοῦ ἔλαβε χῶμα ἀπό τήν γῆν, διά τοῦτο καί αὐτός ἔπλασε καθ̉ ὅμοιον τρόπον τό χῶμα· διότι τό νά εἰπῇ, ἐγώ εἶμαι ἐκεῖνος πού ἔλαβον χῶμα ἀπό τήν γῆν καί ἔπλασα τόν ἄνθρωπον, ἐφαίνετο ὅτι δυσαρεστοῦσε τούς ἀκροατάς, ἀποδεικνυόμενον ὅμως αὐτό ἐμπράκτως, δέν θά ἐνοχλοῦσε πλέον αὐτούς.

Διά τοῦτο λοιπόν καί αὐτός, ἀφοῦ ἔλαβε χῶμα καί τό ἀνέμειξε μέ τό πτύσμα, ἐφανέρωσε μέ τήν ἐνέργειάν του αὐτήν τήν κρυμμένην δόξαν του· διότι δέν ἦτο μικρή δόξα τό νά θεωρηθῇ αὐτός δημιουργός τῆς κτίσεως· καθ̉ ὅσον ἀπό αὐτό ἠκολούθουν καί τά ἄλλα καί ἀπό τό ἐπί μέρους ἐγένετο πιστευτόν τό ὅλον·διότι ἡ πίστις διά τό μεγαλύτερον ἔργον του, ἐπεβεβαίωνε καί τό μικρότερον· καθ̉ ὅσον ὁ ἄνθρωπος εἶναι τό πολυτιμώτερον ἀπό ὅλα τά ὄντα τῆς κτίσεως, καί ἀπό τά μέλη μας πολυτιμώτερος εἶναι ὁ ὀφθαλμός. Διά τοῦτο ἔδωσε τό φῶς εἰς τούς ὀφθαλμούς ὄχι ἔτσι ἁπλῶς, ἀλλά μέ ἐκεῖνον τόν τρόπον· διότι ἄν καί εἶναι μικρόν τό μέλος αὐτό ὡς πρός τό μέγεθος, ἀλλ̉ ὅμως εἶναι ἀναγκαιότερον ἀπό ὅλα τά μέλη σώματος. Καί αὐτό δηλῶν ὁ Παῦλος, ἔλεγεν· «Ἐάν εἰπῇ ἡ ἀκοή, ἐπειδή δέν εἶμαι ὀφθαλμός, δέν ἀνήκω εἰς τό σῶμα, μήπως παύῃ, ἐξ αἰτίας αὐτοῦ, νά ἀνήκῃ εἰς τό σῶμα;» (Α´ Κορ. 12,16). Διότι ὅλα τά μέλη τοῦ σώματός μας εἶναι ἀπόδειξις τῆς σοφίας τοῦ Θεοῦ, πολύ περισσότερον δέ ὁ ὀφθαλμός. Καθ̉ ὅσον αὐτός διακυβερνᾷ ὁλόκληρον τό σῶμα, αὐτός δίδει τό κάλλος εἰς ὅλον τό σῶμα, αὐτός στολίζει τό πρόσωπον, αὐτός εἶναι ὁ λύχνος ὅλων τῶν μελῶν· διότι αὐτό πού εἶναι ὁ ἥλιος διά τήν οἰκουμένην, αὐτό εἶναι ὁ ὀφθαλμός διά τό σῶμα. Ἄν σβήσῃς τόν ἥλιον, ὅλα τά κατέστρεψες καί τά ἀνέτρεψες· ἄν σβήσῃς τούς ὀφθαλμούς καί τά πόδια εἶναι ἄχρηστα καί τά χέρια καί ἡ ψυχή· διότι χάνεται ἡ γνῶσις ἀχρηστευομένων αὐτῶν· καθ̉ ὅσον δι̉ αὐτῶν ἐγνωρίσαμεν τόν Θεόν· «Διότι τά ἀόρατα τοῦ Θεοῦ βλέπονται καθαρά ἀπό τότε πού ἐκτίσθη ὁ κόσμος διά μέσου τῶν δημιουργημάτων» (Ρωμ. 1,20). Ἑπομένως δέν εἶναι ὁ ὀφθαλμός μόνον λύχνος εἰς τό σῶμα, ἀλλά περισσότερον ἀπό τό σῶμα εἶναι λύχνος τῆς ψυχῆς. Καί ἀκριβῶς λοπόν διά τοῦτο ἔχει τοποθετηθῆ, ὡσάν ἀκριβῶς εἰς κάποιαν βασιλικήν θέσιν, εἰς τό ὑψηλότερον μέρος τοῦ σώματος καί προΐσταται τῶν ἄλλων αἰσθήσεων. Αὐτόν λοιπόν διαπλάσσει.

Εἰς τήν συνέχειαν, διά νά μή νομίσῃς ὅτι ἔχει ἀνάγκην ἀπό ὕλην ὅταν δημιουργῇ, καί διά νά μάθῃς ὅτι οὔτε καί εἰς τήν ἀρχήν εἶχεν ἀνάγκην ἀπό πηλόν (διότι αὐτός πού ἔφερεν εἰς τήν ὕπαρξιν τάς σπουδαιοτέρας οὐσίας πού δέν ὑπῆρχον, πολύ περισσότερον ἐδημιούργησεν αὐτήν χωρίς νά ὑπάρχῃ ὕλη), διά νά μάθῃς λοιπόν, ὅτι αὐτό δέν τό κάμνει ἀπό ἀνάγκην, ἀλλά διά νά διδάξῃ ὅτι αὐτός εἶναι ὁ ἀρχικός δημιουργός, ἀφοῦ ἄλειψε τόν πηλόν εἰς τούς ὀφθαλμούς εἶπεν· «Πήγαινε καί πλύσου», διά νά γνωρίσῃς, ὅτι δέν ἔχω ἀνάγκην ἀπό πηλόν διά νά ἀνοίξω τούς ὀφθαλμούς, ἀλλά διά νά φανερωθῇ μέ αὐτήν τήν ἐνέργειάν μου ἡ δόξα μου. Τό ὅτι λοιπόν ὁμιλεῖ περί τοῦ ἑαυτοῦ του γίνεται φανερόν ἀπό τό ὅτι, ἀφοῦ εἶπεν, «Διά νά φανερωθῇ ἡ δόξα τοῦ Θεοῦ», ἐπρόσθεσεν· «Ἐγώ πρέπει νά ἐκτελῶ τά ἔργα ἐκείνου πού μέ ἔστειλεν»· δηλαδή, ἐγώ πρέπει νά φανερώσω τόν ἑαυτόν μου καί νά πράξω ἐκεῖνα πού ἠμποροῦν νά ἀποδείξουν ὅτι πράττω τά ἴδια μέ τόν Πατέρα, ὄχι παρόμοια, ἀλλά τά ἴδια, πρᾶγμα πού ἀποδεικνύει εἰς μεγαλύτερον βαθμόν ὅτι εἶναι ὅμοια ἀκριβῶς τά ἔργα του μέ τά τοῦ Πατρός, καί τό ὁποῖον λέγεται ἐπί τῶν πραγμάτων ἐκείνων πού δέν διαφέρουν καθόλου. Ποῖος λοιπόν θά ἀμφισβητῇ εἰς τό ἑξῆς, βλέπων αὐτόν νά ἠμπορῇ νά πράττῃ τά ἴδια μέ τόν Πατέρα; διότι δέν ἔπλασε μόνον ὀφθαλμούς, οὔτε ἤνοιξεν, ἀλλά καί ἐχάρισε καί τήν ὅρασιν, πρᾶγμα πού σημαίνει ὅτι ἐνεφύσησε καί ψυχήν· καθ̉ ὅσον ἐάν ἐκείνη δέν ἐνεργῇ, ὁ ὀφθαλμός, καί ἄν ἀκόμη εἶναι ὑγιέστατος, δέν θά ἠμπορέσῃ ποτέ νά ἰδῆ τίποτε. Ὥστε καί τήν ἐνέργειαν τῆς ψυχῆς ἐχάρισε καί ἔδωσεν εἰς τό μέλος τά πάντα, καί ἀρτηρίας καί νεῦρα καί φλέβας καί αἷμα καί ὅλα τά ἄλλα, ἀπό τά ὁποῖα ἀποτελεῖται τό σῶμα μας.

«Ἐγώ πρέπει νά ἐργάζωμαι ἐν ὅσῳ ἀκόμη εἶναι ἡμέρα». Τί θέλουν νά εἰποῦν αὐτοί οἱ λόγοι; ποίαν σημασίαν ἔχουν; Πολλήν. Διότι αὐτό πού λέγει ἔχει τήν ἑξῆς σημασίαν· «Ἕως ἡμέρα ἐστίν»· Ἐν ὅσῳ ἀκόμη ἠμποροῦν οἱ ἄνθρωποι νά πιστεύουν εἰς ἐμέ, ἐν ὅσῳ συνεχίζεται αὐτή ἡ ζωή, πρέπει νά ἐργάζωμαι. «Ἔρχεται νύξ (δηλαδή ὁ μέλλων καιρός), ὁπότε κανείς δέν ἠμπορεῖ νά ἐργάζεται». Δέν εἶπεν, ὁπότε ἐγώ δέν ἠμπορῶ νά ἐργάζωμαι, ἀλλά «ὁπότε κανείς δέν ἠμπορεῖ νά ἐργάζεται», δηλαδή, τότε πού δέν θά ἰσχύῃ πλέον ἡ πίστις, οὔτε οἱ κόποι, οὔτε ἡ μετάνοια. Τό ὅτι βέβαια ἔργον ὀνομάζει τήν πίστιν, γίνεται φανερόν ἀπό τήν ἐρώτησιν πρός αὐτόν· «Τί θά κάνωμεν, διά νά ἐκτελέσωμεν τά ἔργα τοῦ Θεοῦ;» (Ἰω. 6,28). Ἀπαντᾶ· «Αὐτό εἶναι τό ἔργον τοῦ Θεοῦ, διά νά πιστεύσετε εἰς αὐτόν πού ἀπέστειλε ἐκεῖνος» (Ἰω. 6,29). Πῶς λοιπόν αὐτό τό ἔργον «δέν ἠμπορεῖ κανείς νά τό πράξῃ τότε»; Διότι τότε οὔτε ἡ πίστις ἰσχύει, ἀλλ̉ ὅλοι θά ὑπακούσουν εἴτε τό θέλουν εἴτε ὄχι. Διά νά μή εἰπῇ λοιπόν κάποιος ὅτι αὐτό τό κάνει ἀπό φιλοδοξίαν, δεικνύει ὅτι ὅλα τά κάνει ἀπό ἐνδιαφέρον δι̉ αὐτούς πού ἔχουν τήν δυνατότητα μόνον ἐδῶ νά πιστεύσουν, καί δέν ἠμποροῦν πλέον ἐκεῖ νά ἔχουν καμμίαν ὠφέλειαν. Διά τοῦτο δέν ἔκαμεν αὐτό πού ἔκαμεν ἀφοῦ ἦλθε πρός αὐτόν ὁ τυφλός.

Τό ὅτι βέβαια ἦτο ἄξιος μέν νά θεραπευθῇ καί, ἐάν ἔβλεπεν, θά ἐπίστευε καί θά προσήρχετο, καί, δέν θά ἔδειχνεν ἀδιαφορίαν καί πάλιν ἐάν ἤκουεν ἀπό κάποιον πού ἦτο ἐκεῖ, γίνεται φανερόν ἀπό τά ἑξῆς, ἀπό τήν ἀνδρείαν καί τήν ἰδίαν τήν πίστιν του· καθ̉ ὅσον φυσικόν ἦτο νά σκεφθῇ καί νά εἰπῇ· Μά τί τέλος πάντων σημαίνει αὐτό; ἔκαμε πηλόν καί ἤλειψε τούς ὀφθαλμούς μου καί μοῦ εἶπε· «Πήγαινε καί πλύσου». Δέν ἠμποροῦσε νά μέ θεραπεύσῃ καί μετά νά μέ στείλῃ εἰς τήν κολυμβήθραν τοῦ Σιλωάμ; Πολλές φορές ἐπλύθην ἐκεῖ μαζί μέ ἄλλους πολλούς καί δέν εἶδα καμμίαν ὠφέλειαν· ἐάν εἶχε κάποιαν δύναμιν θά ἠμποροῦσε νά μέ θεραπεύσῃ παρόντα, πρᾶγμα πού καί ὁ Νεεμάν ἔλεγε πρός τόν Ἐλισσαῖον· καθ̉ ὅσον καί ἐκεῖνος, λαβών ἐντολήν νά ὑπάγῃ καί νά λουσθῇ εἰς τόν Ἰορδάνην δυσπιστοῦσε, καί ὅλα αὐτά τήν στιγμήν πού τόση φήμη ὑπῆρχε περί τοῦ Ἐλισσαίου(Δ´ Βασ. 5, 10-11). Ἀλλ̉ ὅμως ὁ τυφλός δέν ἠπίστησεν οὔτε ἔφερεν ἀντίρρησιν οὔτε ἐσκέφθη μέσα του· Τί τέλος πάντων σημαίνει αὐτό; ἔπρεπε νά ἀλείψῃ τούς ὀφθαλμούς μου μέ πηλόν; αὐτό περισσότερον τυφλώνει· ποῖος ποτέ ἀνέβλεψε μέ αὐτόν τόν τρόπον; Ἀλλά τίποτε ἀπό αὐτά δέν ἐσκέφθη. Εἶδες πίστιν σταθεράν καί προθυμίαν; «Ἔρχεται ἡ νύκτα». Δείχνει μέ αὐτό ὅτι καί μετά τήν σταύρωσίν του πρόκειται νά συνεχίσῃ τήν πρόνοιάν του διά τούς ἀσεβεῖς καί νά ἐπιστρέψῃ πολλούς εἰς τήν πίστιν· διότι ἀκόμη εἶναι ἡμέρα. Μετά δέ ἀπό αὐτό τούς ἀπομακρύνει τελείως. Καί θέλων νά δηλώσῃ αὐτό, ἔλεγεν· «Ὅσον καιρόν εἶμαι εἰς τόν κόσμον, εἶμαι τό φῶς τοῦ κόσμου»· πρᾶγμα πού ἔλεγε καί πρός ἄλλους· «Πιστεύετε ἐν ὅσῳ τό φῶς εἶναι μαζί σας» (Ἰω. 12,36).

3. Καί διατί λοιπόν ὁ Παῦλος τήν μέν παροῦσαν ζωήν ὠνόμασε νύκτα, τήν δέ μέλλουσαν ἡμέραν; Δέν ἀντιτίθεται πρός τόν Χριστόν, ἀλλά λέγει τά ἴδια, ἄν καί ὄχι μέ τά ἴδια λόγια, ἀλλά μέ τό ἴδιο νόημα· καθ̉ ὅσον λέγει· «Ἡ νύκτα ἐπροχώρησε, ἡ δέ ἡμέρα ἐπλησίασεν» (Ρωμ. 13,12). Διότι νύκτα ὀνομάζει τήν παροῦσαν ζωήν δι̉ ἐκείνους πού κάθονται εἰς τό σκότος, ἤ συγκρίνων αὐτήν μέ ἐκείνην τήν ἡμέραν, ἐνῷ ὁ Χριστός νύκτα ὀνομάζει τήν μέλλουσαν ζωήν λόγῳ τοῦ ὅτι δέν συγχωροῦνται τότε τά ἁμαρτήματα, ὁ Παῦλος ὅμως ὀνομάζει τήν παροῦσαν ζωήν νύκτα ἐπειδή εὑρίσκονται μέσα εἰς τό σκότος αὐτοί πού ζοῦν μέσα εἰς τήν κακίαν καί τήν ἀπιστίαν. Ἀπευθυνόμενος πρός πιστούς, ἔλεγεν· «Ἡ νύκτα ἐπροχώρησεν, ἡ δέ ἡμέρα ἐπλησίασεν», καθ̉ ὅσον πρόκειται νά ἀπολαύσουν ἐκεῖνο τό φῶς, καί νύκτα ὀνομάζει τόν παλαιόν βίον· διότι λέγει· «Ἄς ἀποβάλωμεν τά ἔργα τοῦ σκότους» (Ρωμ. 13,12). Βλέπεις πού λέγει δι̉ ἐκείνους ὅτι εἶναι νύκτα; Διά τοῦτο λέγει· «Ἄς συμπεριφερώμεθα σεμνά, ὅπως ὅταν εἶναι ἡμέρα» (Ρωμ.13,13) διά νά ἀπολαύσωμεν ἐκεῖνο τό φῶς. Διότι, ἐάν αὐτό τό φῶς εἶναι τόσον ὡραῖον, σκέψου πόσον ὡραῖον θά εἶναι ἐκεῖνο· ὅσον δηλαδή ἀνώτερον εἶναι τό φῶς τοῦ ἡλίου ἀπό τό τοῦ λύχνου, τόσον καί πολύ περισσότερον ἐκεῖνο εἶναι ἀνώτερον ἀπό αὐτό. Καί διά νά δηλώσῃ αὐτό, ἔλεγεν ὅτι «ὁ ἥλιος θά σκοτισθῇ» (Ματθ. 24,29), δηλαδή ἐξ αἰτίας ἐκείνης τῆς ἀφθόνου λαμπρότητός του οὔτε ὁ ἥλιος θά φανῇ. Ἐάν δέ τώρα δαπανῶμεν ἀμέτρητα χρήματα διά νά ἔχωμεν φωτεινάς καί εὐαέρους οἰκίας κτίζοντες αὐτάς καί ταλαιπωρούμενοι, σκέψου πῶς πρέπει νά μεταχειριζώμεθα τά σώματα διά νά οἰκοδομήσωμεν λαμπράς οἰκίας εἰς τούς οὐρανούς, ὅπου ὑπάρχει τό ἀπερίγραπτον ἐκεῖνο φῶς· διότι ἐδῶ μέν γίνονται καί μάχαι καί φιλονικίαι διά τά σύνορα καί τούς τοίχους, ἐνῷ ἐκεῖ δέν ὑπάρχει τίποτε τό παρόμοιον, οὔτε φθόνος οὔτε κακολογία, καί κανείς δέν θά φιλονικήσῃ μαζί μας διά σύνορα κτημάτων. Καί αὐτήν μέν τήν οἰκίαν εἴμεθα ἀναγκασμένοι νά τήν ἐγκαταλείψωμεν ὁπωσδήποτε ἐνῷ ἐκείνη θά παραμείνῃ διαρκῶς· καί αὐτή μέν κατ̉ ἀνάγκην καταστρέφεται ἀπό τόν χρόνον καί ὑφίσταται μυρίας ζημίας, ἐνῷ ἐκείνη μένει αἰωνίως ἄφθαρτος· καί αὐτήν μέν δέν ἠμπορεῖ πτωχός νά τήν οἰκοδομήσῃ, ἐνῷ ἐκείνην μπορεῖ νά τήν οἰκοδομήσῃ καί μέ δύο ὀβολούς, ὅπως ἀκριβῶς ἡ χήρα. Διά τοῦτο λυποῦμε ὑπερβολικά, διότι ἄν καί εὑρίσκονται ἔμπροσθέν μας τόσα ἀγαθά, ραθυμοῦμεν καί ἀδιαφοροῦμεν, καί πράττομεν μέν τά πάντα διά νά ἔχωμεν ἐδῶ λαμπράς οἰκίας, ἀδιαφορῶμεν ὅμως καί δέν φροντίζομεν νά ἀποκτήσωμεν εἰς τούς οὐρανούς ἔστω καί μικρόν κατάλυμα.

Εἰπέ μου λοιπόν, πού θά ἤθελες νά ἔχῃς οἰκίαν ἐδῶ; ἆρά γε εἰς τήν ἐρημίαν ἤ εἰς μίαν ἀπό τάς μικράς πόλεις; Ἐγώ τουλάχιστον δέν τό νομίζω, ἀλλά θά ἤθελες νά ἔχῃς εἰς τάς βασιλικωτάτας καί μεγάλας πόλεις, ὅπου ὑπάρχει περισσότερον ἐμπόριον καί μεγαλυτέρα πολυτέλεια. Ἀλλ̉ ἐγώ σέ ὁδηγῶ εἰς μίαν τέτοιαν πόλιν, τῆς ὁποίας τεχνίτης καί δημιουργός εἶναι ὁ Θεός. Ἐκεῖ σέ παρακαλῶ νά κτίζῃς καί νά οἰκοδομῇς μέ ὀλιγώτερα χρήματα καί ὀλιγώτερον κόπον. Ἐκείνην τήν οἰκίαν τήν οἰκοδομοῦν τά χέρια τῶν πτωχῶν καί αὐτό πρό πάντων εἶναι οἰκοδομή· διότι αὐτά πού γίνονται τώρα εἶναι δείγματα τῆς πιό φοβερᾶς παραφροσύνης. Καθ̉ ὅσον ἐάν κάποιος σέ ὡδήγει εἰς τήν περσικήν γῆν διά νά ἰδῇς τά ἐκεῖ καί νά ἐπανέλθῃς καί εἰς τήν συνέχειαν σέ διέτασσε νά κτίσῃς οἰκίαν, ἆρά γε δέν θά ἀπέδιδες εἰς αὐτόν τήν πιό χειροτέραν ἀνοησίαν, μέ τό νά σέ διατάσσῃ νά κάμνῃς ἀσκόπους δαπάνας; Πῶς λοιπόν κάμνῃς τό ἴδιο πρᾶγμα εἰς τήν γῆν, τήν ὀποίαν μετά ἀπό ὀλίγον θά ἐγκαταλείψῃς;

Ἀλλά, λέγει, θά τήν ἀφήσω εἰς τά παιδιά μου. Ὅμως καί ἐκεῖνα μετά ἀπό ὀλίγον ἀπό σένα θά τήν ἐγκαταλείψουν, πολλές φορές δέ καί πρίν ἀπό σένα, καί ὁμοίως καί οἱ μετά ἀπό ἐκείνους. Καί αὐτό τό πρᾶγμα γίνεται εἰς σέ αἰτία ἀπογοητεύσεως, ὅταν δέν ἰδῇς τούς κληρονόμους σου νά κατέχουν αὐτά. Ἐκεῖ ὅμως τίποτε παρόμοιον δέν εἶναι δυνατόν νά φοβηθῇς, ἀλλά μένει σταθερά αὐτό πού ἀπέκτησες καί εἰς ἐσένα καί εἰς τά παιδιά σου καί εἰς τά ἐγγόνια σου, ἄν ἐπιδείξουν τήν ἰδίαν ἀρετήν. Τήν οἰκοδόμησιν ἐκείνης τῆς οἰκίας τήν κάμνει ὁ Χριστός· ἐάν οἰκοδομῇς ἐκείνην δέν εἶναι ἀνάγκη νά ὁρίζῃς ἐπιστάτας, οὔτε νά φροντίζῃς, οὔτε νά μεριμνᾷς· διότι ὅταν ὁ Θεός ἀναλάβῃ τό ἔργον τί χρειάζεται ἡ φροντίς; Ἐκεῖνος τά συγκεντρώνει ὅλα καί κτίζει τήν οἰκίαν. Καί δέν εἶναι αὐτό μόνον τό ἀξιοθαύμαστον, ἀλλ̉ ὅτι αὐτός ἔτσι οἰκοδομεῖ αὐτήν, ὅπως ἀρέσει εἰς ἐσένα, ἀλλά καί περισσότερον ἀπό αὐτό πού σοῦ ἀρέσει καί ἀπό αὐτό πού θέλεις· διότι εἶναι τεχνίτης ἄριστος καί φροντίζει πάρα πολύ διά τά συμφέροντά σου. Καί ἄν εἶσαι πτωχός καί θελήσῃς νά οἰκοδομήσῃς αὐτήν τήν οἰκίαν κανείς δέν θά σέ φθονήσῃ οὔτε καί θά σέ κακολογήσῃ· διότι κανείς δέν τήν βλέπει αὐτήν ἀπό ἐκείνους πού φθονοῦν, ἀλλ̉ οἱ ἄγγελοι πού γνωρίζουν νά χαίρωνται μέ τά ἰδικά σου ἀγαθά. Κανείς δέν θά ἠμπορέσῃ νά ἐξουσιάσῃ αὐτήν, διότι κανείς δέν κατοικεῖ πλησίον της ἀπό αὐτούς πού πάσχουν ἀπό παρόμοια νοσήματα. Γείτονας ἐκεῖ ἔχεις τούς ἁγίους, τούς περί τόν Παῦλον καί Πέτρον, ὅλους τούς προφήτας, τούς μάρτυρας, τό πλῆθος τῶν ἄγγελων καί τῶν ἀρχαγγέλων.

Διά τοῦτο λοιπόν ὅλα αὐτά τά ὑπάρχοντά μας ἄς τά προσφέρωμεν εἰς τούς πτωχούς , διά νά ἐπιτύχωμεν ἐκείνας τάς σκηνάς, τά ὁποίας μακάρι νά ἐπιτύχωμεν ὅλοι ἡμεῖς μέ τήν χάριν καί φιλανθρωπίαν τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, διά τοῦ ὁποίου καί μετά τοῦ ὁποίου ἀνήκει εἰς τόν Πατέρα δόξα συγχρόνως καί εἰς τό ἅγιον Πνεῦμα εἰς τούς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων. Ἀμήν.

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Πώς να μιλάμε στα παιδιά μας για τους δαίμονες, την κόλαση και το θάνατο.

Είναι σοβαρό παιδαγωγικό σφάλμα να μιλάμε στα μικρά παιδιά με κάθε λεπτομέρεια για τους δαίμονες, διότι, αν ένα παιδί ακούσει μια φορά πώς ακριβώς είναι, είναι αδύνατο να μην αρχίσει να τους φαντάζεται.
 Οι ενήλικες είναι δυνατόν να προειδοποιηθούν για τον κίνδυνο που διατρέχουν, αν αφήσουν εικόνες των δαιμόνων να εισβάλουν στο μυαλό τους, αλλά ένα μικρό παιδί, ακόμη κι αν το προειδοποιήσουμε, δεν μπορεί εύκολα να σταματήσει να σκέπτεται κάτι που το βασανίζει, και αυτό μπορεί να το οδηγήσει σε μια επικίνδυνη πνευματική κατάσταση ή, το λιγότερο, να υποφέρει από εφιάλτες. Όταν τα μικρά παιδιά ρωτούν για το διάβολο ή για την ύπαρξη των πνευμάτων τού κακού, είναι προτιμότερο να μην κάνουμε διεξοδική ανάλυση αλλά να λέμε ότι δεν
πρέπει να δίνουμε σ' αυτά περισσότερη προσοχή απ' ο,τι στα όνειρα ή κάτι παρόμοιο. Γενικά πρέπει να στρέφουμε το μυαλό των παιδιών προς τον Χριστό, τους αγίους και τους αγγέλους.
Είναι καλύτερα να διδάσκουμε στα παιδιά το χριστιανικό αγώνα χωρίς άμεση αναφορά στη μάχη εναντίον των δαιμόνων. Τα παιδιά μπορούν να μάθουν εντελώς φυσικά να κάνουν το σημείο του σταυρού πριν κοιμηθούν (επάνω τους και πάνω στο κρεβάτι ή το μαξιλάρι τους) ως ευλογία για τη νύκτα, να χρησιμοποιούν την προσευχή του Ιησού (Κύριε Ιησού Χριστέ ελέησόν με) ή να μιλούν
στον Κύριο και τους αγίους με δικά τους λόγια, όποτε θέλουν.
Έτσι όταν δοκιμάσουν κάποιο πειρασμό (π.χ. από φόβο ή εφιάλτες), θα χρησιμοποιήσουν εντελώς φυσικά τα σωστά όπλα. Τα παιδιά μπορούν να κοιμούνται με ένα κομποσχοίνι στο χέρι ή κάτω απ' το μαξιλάρι τους και να λένε την προσευχή του Ιησού (έστω μόνο λίγες φορές στις καθημερινές τους προσευχές).

Η ιδέα της κολάσεως φοβίζει τα παιδιά. Βέβαια φοβίζει κι εμάς αλλά ο φόβος μας δεν είναι παθολογικός, πηγάζει από την αγάπη μας για τον Θεό και από το φόβο μας μήπως αποξενωθούμε απ' Αυτόν. Αυτό το οποίο πρέπει να καλλιεργήσουμε στα παιδιά δεν είναι ο φόβος της κόλασης αλλά η αγάπη για τον Θεό. Τα παιδιά μπορούν να σκεφθούν σοβαρά το μεταφυσικό πρόβλημα του κακού και της αγάπης του Θεού. Όταν μιλάμε για την κόλαση (όχι, φυσικά, σε μικρά παιδιά) πρέπει να τονίζουμε ότι η κόλαση δεν είναι ένας τόπος όπου ο Θεός θέλει να στείλει τους κακούς ανθρώπους, κόλαση είναι ο πόνος που επιβάλλουμε στον εαυτό μας με την απόρριψη της αγάπης του Θεού. Κόλαση είναι η θέα του φωτός του Θεού που κατακαίει όσους δεν έχουν γίνει όμοιοι μ' Αυτόν. Ή ακόμη μπορούμε να πούμε ότι, αν κάποιος είναι άρρωστος αλλά αρνείται να πάρει τα φάρμακα που συνιστά ο γιατρός, δεν φταίει ο γιατρός, αν δεν θεραπευθεί. Όπως πάντα δεν
υπάρχουν συνταγές, δίνω μόνο μερικά παραδείγματα. Υπάρχουν πολλές περιπτώσεις ενηλίκων οι οποίοι απέρριψαν το Χριστιανισμό, επειδή αυτό νόμιζαν ότι ήταν ο καλύτερος τρόπος να ελευθερωθούν απ' τον ασφυκτικό φόβο της κολάσεως μέσα στον οποίο ανατράφηκαν. Ακόμα κι όταν μιλάμε για κακές πράξεις ή για τους ανθρώπους που τις διέπραξαν, είναι σημαντικό να γνωρίζει σίγουρα το παιδί ότι ο Χριστός είναι πάντα έτοιμος να συγχωρήσει οποιοδήποτε αμάρτημα.
Όταν τα παιδιά μιλούν για τον Ουρανό, εκφράζουν συχνά διάφορες ιδέες για το τι μπορούμε να συναντήσουμε εκεί, ιδέες οι οποίες θεολογικά φαίνονται ίσως λανθασμένες. Πρέπει όμως να είμαστε πολύ προσεκτικοί για να μην καταστρέψουμε μέσα τους την επιθυμία να πάνε στον Ουρανό. Μπορείτε να φαντασθείτε ότι θα επιθυμούσε κανείς να πάει σ' έναν τόπο, όπου δεν υπάρχει ούτε φαγητό, ούτε παιχνίδια, ούτε αγαπημένα ζωάκια; Πρέπει να δίνουμε την εντύπωση (και δεν είναι εσφαλμένη εντύπωση) ότι ο Ουρανός είναι ασυγκρίτως καλύτερος απ' ο,τι μπορούμε
να φαντασθούμε. Μερικά παιδιά, μόλις το άκουσαν αυτό, ρώτησαν αυθόρμητα: Καλύτερος κι απ' τη νύχτα της Αναστάσεως;, Καλύτερος κι απ' το παγωτό;, Καλύτερος κι απ' όταν η μαμά σε βάζει να κοιμηθείς;. Η Βίβλος μας διδάσκει ότι θα υπάρχει ουράνια τροφή, ουράνιο γέλιο κ.ο.κ. Όσον αφορά τα ζώα, τα παιδιά θέλουν να ξέρουν αν το αγαπημένο τους ζώο θα έχει μια θέση στον ουρανό.
Δεν υπάρχει λόγος να εξηγήσουμε θεολογικά αυτή τη στιγμή σ' ένα παιδί σε τι διαφέρει η ψυχή ενός ζώου από την ψυχή ενός ανθρώπου. Είναι προτιμότερο να του θυμίσουμε πόσο φροντίζει ο Θεός για κάθε μικρό σπουργίτι (Ματθ. 10, 29).
Δεν πρέπει ποτέ, όταν μιλάμε θεολογικά, να καταστρέψουμε μια ιδέα που έχει κάποιος μέσα του, αν δεν την αντικαταστήσουμε με μια ωριμότερη ιδέα, η οποία δεν ξεπερνά το επίπεδο αντιλήψεως του. Στο Γεροντικό υπάρχει μια διήγηση για κάποιο μοναχό ο οποίος ήταν ανθρωπομορφιστής (δηλαδή ερμήνευε στην κυριολεξία αγιογραφικές εκφράσεις όπως τα χέρια του Θεού, τα μάτια του Θεού κ.λ.π.). Οι ορθόδοξοι μοναχοί τον διόρθωσαν. Τον επισκέφθηκε όμως κάποιος άλλος μοναχός και τον βρήκε να κλαίει. Ο επισκέπτης τον ρώτησε: Γιατί κλαις, πάτερ; Δε χαίρεσαι που επέστρεψες στη σωστή πίστη; Ο μοναχός απάντησε: Κλαίω, γιατί μου πήραν τον Θεό μου και τώρα πια δεν ξέρω ποιόν να λατρέψω.
Δε θέλουμε τα παιδιά μας να φοβούνται το θάνατο. Πρέπει να μιλάμε γι' αυτόν ως ένα κομμάτι της ζωής μας -το κατώφλι της ουράνιας ζωής- το σκαλοπάτι προς την αιώνια ζωή με τον Χριστό.
Μερικές φορές ορισμένα παιδιά θέλουν τόσο πολύ να πάνε στον Ουρανό, ώστε εκφράζουν την επιθυμία να πεθάνουν ή ακόμα να θέσουν μόνα τους τέρμα στη ζωή τους. Δεν πρέπει να βάζουμε μέσα σ' αυτά τα παιδιά ένα νοσηρό φόβο του θανάτου για να μετριάσουμε αυτή την επιθυμία, αλλά να τους εξηγούμε ότι ο θάνατος είναι ευλογημένος μόνο αν φύγουμε απ' αυτόν τον κόσμο όταν μας
καλέσει ο Θεός, επειδή Εκείνος μόνο γνωρίζει πότε είμαστε έτοιμοι.
Δεν πηγαίνουμε στον Ουρανό πριν μας στείλει το εισιτήριο. Δεν υπάρχουν συνταγές για το τι θα πούμε στο κάθε παιδί, πρέπει να προσπαθούμε να προσαρμόζουμε την απάντηση μας στην κάθε περίπτωση.
Πρόκειται για ένα πρόβλημα το οποίο συχνά βρίσκει τους γονείς απροετοίμαστους. Είναι λυπηρό το γεγονός ότι μικρά παιδιά έχουν έστω ακούσει για την αυτοκτονία αλλά είναι μια πραγματικότητα την οποία οι χριστιανοί κατηχητές πρέπει να αντιμετωπίσουν.
Οι ερωτήσεις για την κόλαση και τον Ουρανό, το κακό και το καλό, τους δαίμονες, το θάνατο, την αυτοκτονία κ.ο.κ. θα τεθούν πολλές φορές κατά τη διάρκεια της παιδικής ηλικίας. Οι απαντήσεις μας σ' αυτές (όπως και στην ερώτηση πώς γεννιούνται τα παιδιά) πρέπει να είναι ανάλογες με το επίπεδο αναπτύξεως του παιδιού. Δεν απαντούμε σ' ένα πεντάχρονο παιδί με τον ίδιο τρόπο που θα
απαντούσαμε σ' ένα δεκάχρονο, αν έθετε την ίδια ερώτηση. 

Πηγή: Από το βιβλίο «Σκέψεις για τα παιδιά στην Ορθόδοξη Εκκλησία σήμερα» Αδελφής Μαγδαληνής
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