In this video recording, Archbishop Christophoros from Jordan talks about the illnesses, physical infirmities and spiritual health from a positive Orthodox perspective, quoting St. Paisios the Athonite: “Heaven is full of cancer patients”. This is a sermon recorded in July 24th 2022 by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese – Amman – Jordan.
English translation by Waad Rabahie
Video source: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese – Amman – Jordan
In this gospel reading, the Lord gave us the pyramid of priorities we should have in our life. It tells us that it’s not important to be psychically healthy, but spiritually healthy.
The Lord speaks to each one of us: be attentive to your spiritual health, to the purity of your heart and mind, rather than your physical health.
Don’t be afraid of the illness and pain of the body. It doesn’t matter. It’s not a problem. What matters is your heart, your mind, and your spiritual state. It’s the most important thing. The Lord set the pyramid of priorities. That’s why He asked: “which is easier, to say, Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise and walk’?” In other words, which is easier to receive: the forgiveness of sins or be healed of the sickness?
Receiving the forgiveness of sins is more difficult. Here comes the role of the mystery of confession in the Church, when you go to your spiritual father.
Don’t underestimate this thing. When you kneel before the holy icon confessing your sins, don’t underestimate it thinking it’s a formality thing. No… it’s the most important. Don’t underestimate when the priest lifts the epitrachelion placing it on your head and giving the absolution prayer.
And at the end, he says: “Depart in peace, have no further care for the sins which you have confessed. Depart in peace!” There’s no greater peace than the peace you receive at the end of confession. It’s the peace of Christ which no one can take from your heart.
That’s why the Lord said: “Which is easier: to go to the spiritual father and receive forgiveness of sins, or to go to the physician to be treated for your physical illness?”
Of course, you should go to the physician and seek the health of your body. However, the health of your soul comes first. We often don’t realize the illnesses of our modern times, including cancer. We consider it dramatic.
We see its sad reality, kids suffering on the bed of illness.
We are sad for the mothers, women, fathers, grandfathers, and elders in this illness.
We pray for them. And this is most important. However, we should know what’s behind this illness which God didn’t want. God doesn’t bring illness into our life. Illness is an intruder in our life. It entered after sin, and so did death. Illness and death are not created by God, they are intruders and a result of sin. So God didn’t create illness or death.
God’s love covers death and illness which came as a result of our disobedience and sinfulness. God’s love and divine providence cover them. Though we see the painful outside frame, God is working in the heart of those people, to sanctify them and prepare them for His kingdom.
So Saint Paisios -the saint of our modern days- says that he saw the paradise full of cancer patients.
You see… in the earthly perspective: we don’t even dare say the word “cancer”, we say “that illness”. While St. Paisios says that paradise is full of cancer patients. The earthly perspective is very painful. But the heavenly one is joyful. “The paradise is full of cancer patients.” That’s it, my children. Don’t let death be an obstacle! Instead, behold the life to come in Jesus Christ who is resurrected from death.