Οn Thursday of the sixth week after Pascha, we celebrate the Holy Ascension of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ.
While the Savior was still together with the Disciples, before the Passion, He promised that the most Holy Spirit would come, saying, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you” (John 16:7) and, “However, when He, the Spirit of Truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth...” (John 16:13). That is why, after the Resurrection from the dead, having shown Himself to them during the period of forty days – not constantly, but from time to time – eating and drinking together with them and clearly revealing the Resurrection to them, on the final day, He promised them many things about the Kingdom of God. He commanded that they not leave Jerusalem but remain there and wait for the coming of the most Holy Spirit, for they needed to be baptized in the Spirit, having been baptized before only with John’s baptism of water. Thus, He commanded them to stay in Jerusalem so they would be strengthened by preaching the Gospel first in that very place instead of going to foreign lands immediately where they would more easily be ridiculed. This was also necessary so that they would be trained there, like soldiers, with the weapons of the Spirit, and thus they would go out for battle in preaching the Gospel.
On this day, the sixth Sunday of Pascha, we celebrate the miracle which our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ performed for the man who had been blind from birth.
This miracle, like those of the Samaritan woman and the paralytic, was brought about through the use of water in this way: As Christ was speaking with the Jews and showing them that He is together with the Father, existing before Abraham, they sought to stone Him. He then left that place where He had been speaking with them and met a blind man who was wandering about and who had been blind from birth, having only the shape and form of eyes. When the Savior saw him, His Disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2). The reason they asked this is because they had heard Him telling the paralytic at the Sheep's Pool, “Behold, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you” (John 5:14), as if to say that “the sins of the parents are visited upon the children...”
On the fifth Sunday of Pascha, we celebrate the feast of the Samaritan woman.
This feast has been placed during the week of Mid-Pentecost because Jesus, on this day, clearly bore witness to Himself as the Messiah, that is, the Christ or anointed One (for Messiah in Hebrew means anointed one), and also because He had worked the miracle at the Sheep’s Pool on the previous Sunday.
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.
On this day, the fourth Sunday after Pascha, we commemorate the paralytic who was healed by the Lord, and we celebrate this as a miracle of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ.
The commemoration of this event is made on this particular day because it occurred during the celebration of the Hebrew fifty days. Christ entered Jerusalem during this time of the Jewish festival, and He went to a place north of the Temple near the Sheep Gate called the Sheep’s Pool. Built by King Solomon, this pool was covered by a dome that was supported by five sets of pillars, thus creating five porches. It was called the Sheep’s Pool because the sacrificial lambs were washed there before they were offered in the Temple. An angel of the Lord came down at a certain time and stirred the water, and the first person to step into the water after it had been stirred was healed of whatever disease he possessed. Thus, the five porches were crowded with a multitude of sick folk as they awaited the moving of the water.