Eutychius The Well-Favored
This year, we are celebrating the life and the teachings of St. Paul the Apostle. Just yesterday (Sunday,
June 29th), His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Benedict recited
the Nicene Creed together, in the Greek language, using the Orthodox words of
They did this in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome,
during a special announcement of a year-long celebration of St. Paul. We are celebrating this great
Apostle, his life and his teachings because we know that St. Paul was the one that God used to write
down, for the first time, the teachings of the Holy Orthodox Church. He was the
one who gave the commandments of Jesus Christ on how His Church was to be
organized. He was the one who taught the Church about bishops, priests and
deacons ... and about the Sacraments of the Eucharist, Baptism and Marriage. He
was the one who taught the Church about Who God is in the Holy Trinity, and
about the Virgin Birth of Jesus the Son of God, His Passion and Crucifixion,
His Resurrection from the dead and His ascending into Heaven where He is the
Emperor of the Universe.
St. Paul is
the first great Teacher of the Church. You should read about him in the Acts of
the Apostles, which was written by his friend St. Luke. Wherever he went, he
taught that Jesus Christ is the Son of God Who came to rescue us from sin and
from death in hell. And in every Church, he made sure that he taught the people
everything they needed to know so that they could survive, be brave when the
Roman soldiers came and arrested them.
He taught them the most important facts of life. He taught them the secrets
of the universe, the things that everyone needs to know and put into practice
so that they could have victory over the Devil and his demons, and so that they
could have eternal life. He told them that going to Church was more important
than anything else they could do. It was more important than school, more
important than football, basketball, baseball or soccer or band camp. It was
more important than getting a motorcycle or a car. It was more important than
having a girlfriend. It was more important than even family.
St. Paul had
a lot to teach in a very short time. Most of the time, he was on the run from
the police and from his enemies. His enemies would track him down from city to
city. His enemies would also hire "hit men" and death-squads to ambush him.
On one occasion, in a Turkish town called Lystra, these "bad guys" attacked St. Paul in a mob. They
threw rocks and fragments of broken glass and pottery at the Apostle until he
fell down and didn't move. They thought they had finished him off. But when the
Christians finally found him, St. Paul
got up on his own two feet. He "shook off" the pain, and left the next morning
for the next town on his schedule.
He had a lot more places to go, and a lot more bishops and priests and
deacons to train and ordain. He had a lot more teaching to do before he had
finished his mission in this world.
A few years after this, St. Paul and his
friend Luke were on their way to Jerusalem
to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost. On their way, they stopped off at the
Turkish town of Ephesus.
It was Sunday, and St. Paul
celebrated Liturgy at the place where the Church gathered. It was a large room
on the third floor of a house. People slept and ate in the upper floors of
their houses, because they would often keep animals and supplies on the lower
floor. The upper rooms were a lot cooler and a lot less smelly, because they
were away from the streets.
So St. Paul, St. Luke and the Christians from
worshiped God in the Divine Liturgy. After the Eucharist, St. Paul gave the homily, and it was much
longer than the ten minute homilies that you are used to. This homily started
in the morning, and lasted into the evening, and went on and on even until
Remember that St. Paul
had a lot to say. He also knew that he would never again visit Ephesus, and he would never again see the
Ephesian Christians. So he told them what they needed to know as a Church. In
his own words, he established them in their knowledge. He told them about the
Holy Trinity ... about what Christ did on the Cross and how He invaded Hell and
set free the ones who were captive there ... St. Paul told them about how Christ
wanted the Church to be run, and how He wanted to be worshiped.
There was a lot to say, and it took a long time. And all this time, there
was a young man named Eutychus who was sitting on the cool window ledge,
listening to St. Paul.
He listened, because he wanted to learn the most important things. He listened,
because he knew that there was nothing more important in his life. He wanted to
remember every word of this great Apostle.
And so he sat still, with great respect. He was perfectly quiet and he kept
his eyes squarely on St. Paul.
He didn't whisper or fidget. He didn't look at his cellphone or check out his
I-Pod. He didn't make jokes or squirm in his seat. And he didn't leave to go to
the bathroom downstairs. He didn't play with the candles or the charcoal.
He listened, even though the speech was probably not very exciting. It was
not entertaining. There were a lot more interesting things that a young man
could do on a nice summer evening such as this one.
But Eutychus wanted to live forever. He wanted to worship the Holy Trinity,
and he wanted to serve his Lord Jesus Christ. He wanted to be filled with the
Holy Spirit. He wanted to take in every single word of St. Paul.
But it was very late. And he had been sitting on this open window ledge for
twelve hours. And the night was warm. And even though he didn't want to,
finally, this young man who was the same age as you, fell fast asleep. St. Paul kept speaking.
Eutychus kept sleeping ... and as he did so, he began to nod and slump where he
All at once, Eutychus fell off the window ledge. But he didn't fall inside.
There was no glass or screen in this window, and Eutychus fell outside ... and
the problem was that this Upper Room where they were having Liturgy was three
stories off the ground. In other words, Eutychus fell about thirty feet to the
ground. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that you can't survive
a thirty foot fall, not when you land lying down. That is why everyone feared
the worst when they hurried downstairs and out into the street.
You can imagine the young man's mother crying out, thinking that her son was
dead, as she ran toward his motionless body. But St. Paul was not just a great Teacher that
night: he was also a Miracle-Worker and Healer. St. Paul the Apostle went down the stairs and
into the street. He lifted Eutychus and hugged him tightly, praying to God for
help and grace. Eutychus moved and breathed.
said, to all the Ephesian Christians who were probably all weeping, "Do not
trouble yourselves, for his life is in him." Eutychus stood up, and went back
upstairs with the rest of the Church and with St. Paul, who continued speaking until the
You should know that the name "Eutychus" means "well-favored." You could
almost say that Eutychus' name means "lucky," like "Lucky Eutychus." You might
say that this makes a lot of sense. He falls thirty feet down to the street
from a window, and he survives. That would sound lucky to anyone.
But there is a more important reason why Eutychus is "well-favored." St.
John Chrysostom said that Eutychus stayed up late into the night because he was
a strong, noble and brave Christian. St.
John said that this boy could have looked for
entertainment. He could have gone to a late-night party and could have gotten
drunk and could have "hung out" with wild girls. He could have done all these
things, but he didn't. Instead, he chose the better, "well-favored" way. He
chose Jesus Christ and the Church of Jesus Christ instead of the world.
And because this young man chose to seek Christ and to enter His Church,
when he fell asleep and fell out the window, Jesus Christ reached down and
saved Eutychus from death.
If you listen and believe, no matter how hard Church is, Christ will save
you, too. If you choose Jesus Christ instead of the world, Christ will reach
down and lift you up. That is why Eutychus is called "well-favored." And that
is why you can be "well-favored," too. Believe in Jesus Christ and He will save
you. Enter His Church, and serve at His Altar, and He will surely lift you up.
(Delivered on 7/01/2008 at the 2008 Diocesan Altarboy Retreat at Christ the Saviour Cathedral)