February 5, 2014 + About Death as Sleeping
by St. Nikolai Velimirovich, The Prologue of Ohrid: Lives of the Saints, February 5
"Our friend Lazarus is asleep, but I am going to awaken him" (St. John 11:11).
The Lord of life calls death "sleeping." O what an inexpressible comfort that is for us! O what sweet news for the world! Physical death, therefore, does not mean the annihilation of man rather only sleeping from which only He can awaken; He Who awakened the first dust to life by His word.
When the Lord cried out: "Lazarus!" (St. John 11:43), the man awoke and lived. The Lord knows the name of each of us. When Adam knew the names of every creature of God, why would not the Lord know each one of us by name? Not only does He know but He also calls us by name. O, the sweet and life-creating voice of the only Lover of mankind! This voice can create sons of God from stones. Why, then, can He not awaken us out of our sinful sleep?
It is told that a certain man raised a stone to kill his brother. But, at that moment, it seemed to him that he heard the voice of his mother calling him by name. He only heard the voice of his mother and his hand began to quiver. He dropped the stone and was ashamed of his evil intention. The voice of his mother awakened him from committing a deadly sin. If the voice of a mother saves and awakens from death, how much more, then, the voice of the Creator and Life-giver!
Whenever the Lord cried out to someone who was dead in the body [physically dead] all of them awoke and arose. But, everyone did not awaken and arise among those who were dead in the soul [spiritually dead] when the Lord cried out to them. But, for this awakening, for this resurrection, the agreement of the will of the deceased is necessary. Judas! Do you betray with a kiss? "Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?" (St. Luke 23:48). That is how the Life-creating Voice cried out, but the dead man [Judas] remained dead and the sinner did not awaken. "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" (Act of the Apostles 9:4). The same Life-creating Voice cried out and he who was asleep in sin awakened and the dead man became alive. In truth, deeper is the sleep of sin than the sleep of death and the one who is asleep [in sin] does not easily awaken.
O Sweet Lord, awaken us from the sleep of sin; awaken O Lord!
Troparion, Tone 4
Your lamb Agatha, calls out to You, O Jesus, in a loud voice: "I love You, my Bridegroom, and in seeking You I endure suffering. In baptism I was crucified so that I might reign in You, and I died so that I might live with You. Accept me as a pure sacrifice, for I have offered myself in love." Through her prayers save our souls, since You are merciful.
Kontakion, Tone 4
May the Church be robed today in a garment of glorious porphyry, dyed by the pure blood of the martyr Agatha, and let us cry out: "Rejoice, pride of Catania!"