St Triphyllius of CyprusIn the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. Dear beloved, let us remember Saint Triphyllius, bishop of Leucosia in Cyprus, may the holy saint pray for us!

St Triphyllius, bishop of Leucosia, was known for his eloquence and preaching. His spiritual father was St Spyridon, a very holy saint who was not a scholar. St Spyridon was candid and honest with his student St Triphyllius. Here are two stories about the two saints.

Once both St Spyridon and St Triphyllius passed through some beautiful and abundant vineyards and gardens. St Triphyllius was attracted to such beauty and commented on how they could travel through these places. St Spyridon discerned the thoughts of St Triphyllius and said, “Why do you think about earthly and transient blessings all the time? Our home and riches are in Heaven, to which we ought to strive towards.”

St Triphyllius was once invited by a council of bishops assembled in Cyprus to give a speech to the people. When St Triphyllius spoke of the healing of the paralyzed man by Christ our Lord (Mark 2:11), he used the word “bed” instead of the original word used by Christ – “cot”. St Spyridon chided St Triphyllius on his imprecise use of the word of Christ, “Are you better than He that spoke ‘cot’, that you are ashamed of His wording?” and left the Church. This was St Spyridon reminding his student on humility so that the saint may not become proud of his talent of eloquence gifted by God.

Just as a good parent reprimands and disciplines a child, a good teacher may seem harsh with words and manners, but his intention is solely good for the student. St Spyridon was not a scholar nor was he eloquent, but yet St Triphyllius saw what a gem of a teacher St Spyridon was, and valued his wisdom, his holiness, and his discipline.

Therefore, what is joy?

To many today, joy may mean abundance of material wealth and possessions, big houses, and lots of meaningless social events. Yet we hear often of wealthy families embattled with quarrels and even lawsuits, fighting over mere money. We read of international strife, over exactly the same things, material wealth. Power and might become means to acquire even more wealth, often at the expense of lives and communities.

As we reflect upon Proverbs 17, we are reminded that it is better to be simple and meek and yet abundant with joy, rather than to be full of material abundance and yet struggling with quarrels and fights over the same. Throughout the Holy Scripture we are reminded to tend to the impoverished (as in Proverbs 17:1-5), for they too are our God’s creation, equal in dignity and value to Him. We are to be tender to all, including those who have less, rather than pander to those who have plenty (Deuteronomy 15:7-8, Matthew 10:23-31).

Joy is a gift from God that we seek, just as we seek His Truth, and abide in His Ways. As mere mortals, we cannot easily hold on to this special gift of joy, in that we can lose it along the way, or lose it now and then. The precious saints we venerate have found this joy in God, having complete faith in God, will not lose this joy. They have Christ in them. For us though, we keep striving, having the hope and optimism that we are promised that the Holy Spirit will tend to us in our lifelong journeys towards God, despite our every weakness along the way. We will always fall, falter, retreat, or turn away from God. And yet, the Holy Spirit will strengthen us (Romans 8:22-27).

We are therefore, to be aware of and repent of our failings constantly, and to abide in Christ trusting our Lord that we are promised the help of the Holy Spirit despite our failings. We are never to lose hope, or be tempted to turn away from God. Our defense is to keep repenting and keep praying, “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+

Readings
Deuteronomy 15:7-8
Proverbs 17:1-7
St Matthew 10:23-31
Romans 8:22-27