Synaxarion for the Wednesday of Mid-Pentecost.
On Wednesday of the fourth week of Pascha, the week of the Paralytic, we celebrate the feast of Mid-Pentecost.
We celebrate this present feast in honor of the two great feasts of Pascha and Pentecost, for this is the day which, in a sense, ties the two feasts together. The celebration of this present feast came about in the following manner: after Christ had performed the miracle of healing the paralytic, which surpasses all nature, the Jews sought to put Him to death, using the excuse that it was a scandal to do such a deed on the Sabbath, since this miracle had been performed on a Saturday. Knowing this, Jesus left Galillee and went about in the mountain region where He performed the miracle of the multiplication of five loaves and two fishes, feeding five thousand men, aside from the number of women and children.
Shortly after that was celebrated the feast of Tabernacles (which for the Jews was a great feast), and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, although He took care not to be seen by men. However, in the middle of this feast, He went into the Temple where He taught all who were gathered there, and everyone was amazed at His teaching; then being filled with envy, they said, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?” (John 7:15). But Jesus, as the new Adam, had all the knowledge that the first Adam had possessed; in addition to this, as God, He was full of perfect Wisdom. But those gathered complained and arose against Him, seeking to put Him to death. Jesus reproved them showing that they only put on the appearance of preserving the Sabbath, saying to them, “Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill me?” (John 7:19). Then, reminding them of what had been said already, He said to them: “If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath? Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:23-24). Therefore, when He had spoken many such things to them, showing that He is Himself the giver of the Law and is together with the Father, on the final day of the feast, the Jews sought to stone Him, but the stones did not touch Him. Departing from there, He then came upon the man who had been blind from birth, and He granted him sight.
It is good to know that the Jews had three major feasts. The first was the Passover, which they celebrated during the first Jewish month (approximately our March) in remembrance of their escape from Egypt and passing through the Red Sea. This feast also commemorates the eating of the lamb in the evening and the anointing of their door posts and lintels with the lamb’s blood. It is also called the Feast of Unleavened Bread since they were commanded to eat the unleavened bread for seven days before they departed from Egypt. The second feast was Pentecost, which occurred fifty days after Passover, and commemorated crossing the Wilderness after passing through the Red Sea and entering the Promised Land, for fifty days had passed from the time they had crossed the sea to the time when Moses received the Law on Mt. Sinai and forty years had passed since leaving Egypt and entering the land of Canaan. On this day, they thankfully offered to God bread prepared with new wheat (since this was the beginning of the wheat harvest) and decorated their homes and synagogues with greenery and flowers. This particular day was greatly respected by them, since it is also a multiple of seven (7x7+1). Their third feast was the Feast of the Tabernacles held in the seventh Jewish month (approximately our September) in remembrance of the tent which Moses beheld in the cloud on the mountain and that he then had constructed with the help of the craftsman Bezaleel and which was completed in seven days. During this festival, the Jews lived in booths constructed of vines and branches in remembrance of their living in tents in the Wilderness. This feast also commemorates the first harvest of the field, which took place after the wandering in the desert. So, during this middle period between the two great feasts, Jesus stood out and said loudly, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink” (John 7:37).
Through this teaching, Christ proved Himself to be the Messiah, becoming our Mediator and Reconciler with His eternal Father; and it is for this reason that we celebrate tiiis present feast, calling it Mid-Pentecost, praising Christ the Messiah, and clearly showing the reverence for the two great feasts. This explains why the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman is celebrated after this present feast, for that day speaks a great deal of Christ as the Messiah, as well as about water and thirst, even though St. John the Theologian places the meeting with the Samaritan woman before the healing of the blind man.
Through Your immeasurable loving-kindness,
О Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us.
The Synaxarion of the Lenten Triodion and the Pentecostarion, ed. Fr David (Kidd) and Mother Gabriella (Ursache), Rives Junction, MI: HDM, 1999, pp. 195-198.