St Theophanes the Merciful – Living under God’s Protection

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. Dear beloved, let us remember the Venerable Theophanes of Gaza, may the saint pray for us.

The Venerable Theophanes was from Gaza, Syria, and he was known to be merciful, thus the saint was called “the Merciful”. He gave shelter to the homeless, fed the poor, took care of the sick. He spent all his money to help others, and all could see the saint was himself remaining in need. Even as he gave away all he had, then he became very ill and suffered. His body swelled, then rotted, and smelled of the rot. Even then, the saint gave thanks to God and endured. As he laid dying, a heavy storm approached, and the saint’s wife was sad that she could not give the saint a proper burial. St Theophanes consoled her, “Weep not, woman, for up to now the trial has lasted, but here does come help from the Merciful God, sin in the hour of my death the storm will subside, by the Will of God.” True enough, as the saint reposed, the storm subsided. And right after the saint’s death, the body became healed from rot and gave off a fragrance and healing myrrh.

As we read from Luke 6:12-19, we know that our Lord heals us from the outside and our inner selves. There will be trials and tribulations. We will be sad. We will be ill. We may face death. But through any and all suffering we endure with prayers and repentance unto God, we know that God will not forsake us, just as St Theophanes showed us in his struggles throughout life and unto death.

What better time and place for healing, then to partake in the Divine Liturgy with all of us faithful? For we read from Nehemiah 1:10-11 and Psalms 116:13-17, that we are the servants of our Lord, and we are His children. He redeems us by His strong Hand, and releases us from our bonds of sin.

The Divine Liturgy, when we partake in the Divine Gifts of body and blood of our Lord, we receive His Healing as well. Just as Holy Apostle Paul admonished in Philippians 1:20-27, that we are to be bold in Christ, as we live under our Lord’s protection.

And in this faith and strength gifted by our Lord and Christ, we are to share His Gospel, the good news, to the world, and people we come into contact with. Joy is meant to be shared, even as suffering is to be endured.

Let us pray, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”.

Let us close by praying the thanksgiving prayer:

It is truly meet to call thee blest, the Theotokos, ever blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious than the Seraphim, without corruption thou gavest birth to God the Word: True Theotokos, we magnify thee.

O virgin Theotokos, rejoice; O Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Savior of our souls, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Fr Raphael+

Nehemiah 1:10-11
Psalms 116:13-17
Luke 6:12-19
Philippians 1:20-27