November 2, 2013

Saints Kosmas, Damian and Theodote as Models for our Lives

Sts. Kosmas, Damian and Theodote (Feast Day - November 1)

By Protopresbyter Fr. George Papavarnavas

The Holy Unmercenaries Kosmas and Damian, who are celebrated on November 1st, were brothers from Asia. But there are also two other pairs of Holy Unmercenaries with the same name. The first pair were martyred in Rome and are celebrated on July 1st and the second pair were from Arabia and are celebrated on October 17th. They were all physicians, yet they are not the only ones called Unmercenaries. There are many others, such as Cyrus and John, Sampson and Diomedes, Mokios and Aniketos, Thallelaios and Tryphon, etc.

They are called Unmercenaries (Ανάργυροι) because they did not love silver, that is, they were not lovers-of-silver (φιλάργυροι), their hearts were not attached to material possessions and they offered their medical services pro bono.

The Holy Unmercenaries Kosmas and Damian had pious parents. Their father, however, died when the Saints were young, and they were completely taken care of by their mother, the holy Theodote, who nurtured them with the laws of the Church and taught them love towards God and man. Saint Theodote should be the standard for every mother who wants their children to thrive. But progress is unthinkable without love, selfless love for all people indiscriminately. To truly love people one should first have love for God, because true love is a gift from God. The Apostle Paul advised his disciple Saint Timothy, Bishop of Ephesus, to study the Gospel daily and to live according to it, in order to prosper in life and for this prosperity to be apparent to everyone.

The Holy Unmercenaries healed all selflessly and indiscriminately with their scientific knowledge. But where human power was unable to proceed, because some diseases are incurable, they healed sicknesses with their prayers. But to hide their gift of healing which they received from God, due to their great love, they pretended to heal with medications. They did this out of humility, lest they be admired and praised by people. Their whole life was a ministry of service, an offering and a sacrifice on the altar of selfless love.

The end of their life was "Christian, unashamed and peaceful", or as it is written in the sacred Synaxarion, "they were perfected in peace".

The life and times of our Saints give us the opportunity to emphasize the following:

First, the first-formed in Paradise had communion with God and were healthy, both physically and psychically. But after their fall into sin they wore tunics made of skin, i.e. decay and death, and were vulnerable to various weather conditions. Therefore, physical and psychic illnesses and death are post-fallen conditions, the result of sin. Because they lost their communion with God, their nous became darkened and enslaved to various passions.

Post-fallen man has need of physical and especially psychic healing, which consists of the purification from the passions, the illumination of the nous and communion with God.

Christ, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, is the pre-eminent physician of souls and bodies, which is why He was clothed in human nature, to renew it, heal it and deify it.

Second, medical science is the result of the cultivation of reason, which God endowed man and is a service to our a fellow man. Physicians perform a function and so they should be honored, especially those physicians who are animated by the loving and sacrificial spirit of the Holy Unmercenaries.

The Holy Unmercenaries indicate the way in which the medical profession should function and be exercised. Namely, with love towards man, without class distinctions, with a spirit of sacrifice, service and offering and above all with prayer.

Physicians who love God and respect His law, respect and consider every person, regardless of office, money or social positions, because in their face they see the face of Christ. Man is the icon of Christ, especially the poor and the least among us, and they identify with Christ Himself, who said the known words: "I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me."

Characteristic and remarkable are the words of someone who worked in a Hospital: "I observe physicians and see the difference between those who love God and have an organic relationship with the Church and those who are indifferent and atheists. The first are selfless and humble and feel as if they are partners in God's work of healing their fellow man, while the second consider themselves something higher than other people, like a god, and woe to those who dare challenge them." Human life must be placed above all earthly possessions, but there can be no selfless love and offering without the Grace of the Holy Spirit. Saint Silouan the Athonite says that no one can truly love unless the Holy Spirit dwells within them, Who teaches them to even love their enemies.

In today's society, where most people are hurting and feel unbearable loneliness, it is imperative to have physicians, and people in general, who are animated by the loving and sacrificial spirit of the Holy Unmercenaries. The Orthodox Church is the factory in which such people are "designed".

Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasi, "ΑΓΙΟΙ ΑΝΑΡΓΥΡΟΙ ΚΟΣΜΑΣ ΚΑΙ ΔΑΜΙΑΝΟΣ ΥΙΟΙ ΘΕΟΔΟΤΗΣ, ΟΙ ΕΞ ΑΣΙΑΣ (1 Νοεμβρίου)", November 2005. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.