THE SAVIOUR NOT-MADE-BY-HANDS
- THE SAVIOUR NOT-MADE-BY-HANDS
In these modern times our young people, who are poisoned in the schools
with the venom of unbelief and apostasy, often begin to doubt the
authenticity of the Gospel and demand proof that it is not simply a figment
of man's imagination, and sometimes even doubt whether the Lord Jesus
Christ came to earth at all. But in response to all these doubts, the
wonderful feast of the Image of our Lord Not-made-by-hands serves as vivid
confirmation of our faith.
In church parlance this feast is called the "Third Saviour," i.e. the third
holiday in the month of August dedicated to the Saviour. (The First Saviour
is the feast of the presentation of the Holy and Life-giving Cross of the
Lord, celebrated on August 14th [the 1st, old style], while the Second
Saviour is our church feast of the Lord's Transfiguration.)
The Image of our Lord Not-made-by-hands appeared under the following
circumstances: during Christ's life on earth, there lived in the Syrian
city of Edessa a certain Prince Augarus. He suffered from an incurable
illness - leprosy, so that his entire body was covered with terrible sores,
while internally he suffered from a complete paralysis of the body.
Rumors of Jesus Christ and His great miracles reached Augarus, who became
filled with a fervent desire to see Christ and be healed by Him. However,
being unable to travel to Judea himself, he wrote a moving letter to Jesus
Christ, in which he wrote the following:
"Rumors have reached me about You and Your glorious miracles, how You heal
illness without medicine or treatment, - You make the blind see, the lame
walk, You expel demons, cleanse lepers, heal paralytics with a single word
and resurrect the dead. Hearing of You, that You perform such wondrous
miracles, I came to the following two conclusions about You: You are either
God Who has descended from heaven, or You are the Son of God. For this
reason I humbly appeal to You, to make the effort to come to me and heal my
incurable illness from which I have suffered for so many years. I have also
heard that the Jews hate You and wish to harm You. I, however, have under
my rule a city, though small, but beautiful and having everything in
abundance; come to me then, and live with me in my city, in which both of
us will find all that we need."
Together with this missive Augarus at the same time sent a talented artist
to the Palestine, commissioning him to paint the face of Christ on a wooden
board. So great was Augarus' love for Christ, which was inspired by his
faith in Him, that he wished at least to see His image.
The painter arrived in Jerusalem and found Christ, but despite his best
efforts, by the will of God he was unable to depict the face of Christ.
Then Jesus Himself called the painter to Him, received Augarus' letter from
him and, after reading the letter, sent Augarus the following reply:
"Blessed are you, Augarus, not having seen Me and yet having faith in Me,
for you shall inherit life eternal! You ask Me to come to you, but I must
accomplish that for which I have been sent, and then I must return to My
Father Who had sent Me. And when I ascend to Him, I will send you one of My
disciples, who will completely cure you of your illness."
After writing the letter, the Lord washed His face in water and dried it
with a cloth, leaving a miraculous imprint of the Divine face on this
cloth. Then the Lord sent this image to Augarus together with His letter.
The Lord's promise to Augarus was fully fulfilled after His ascension, when
the Apostle Thaddeus came to Edessa and baptized Augarus, who came out of
the baptismal font completely cleansed and renewed, both in body and soul.
Let us, too, have this guileless and absolute faith in Christ which Augarus
had; let us invite the Lord into our souls through the partaking of the
Holy Mysteries; and may the Lord send us His grace and His mercy, cleanse
us of the leprosy of iniquity and passion, and lead us into eternal life.