Metropolitan Moses - Sermon for the Sunday of the Holy Fathers
- Sermon for the Sunday after Ascension 2007Sunday of the Holy FathersLOVE OF THE TRUTHWe have been celebrating our Pascha, Christ. Our passing over from death unto life and from earth unto heaven.For the past forty days plus we have been worshipping our risen Lord, we have through the Holy Spirit, partaken of the great mystery of our salvation, the great condescension and tender mercies of our God.Last Thursday for the Ascension we celebrated the fulfillment of our Saviors dispensation and the uniting of things of earth with the heavens, yea our nature which had fallen so low because of sin, in Christ our Savior ascending and sitting at the right hand of God.In their wisdom the divine Fathers have ordained that on this Sunday Between the Holy Ascension and the reception of the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, we celebrate The Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council, those guardians of right faith who taught us to worship our God in spirit and in truth.We saw how the holy disciples at first could not contain or grasp the truth of the resurrection, even though our Savior Himself predicted it. The Myrrh bearing women proclaimed the resurrection to the disciples and it seemed to them as idle tales. Our Savior walked with Ss. Luke and Cleopas on the way to Emmaus and only at the breaking of the Bread did they grasp the full significance of His message. Our Master then submitted to having His hands and His feet examined at first by the ten apostles and then by Saint Thomas who doubted. This was all to establish that he indeed did arise again in the very same body that He suffered in, not putting off our nature, but remaining true God and true man. By this touch the disciples were made steadfast. As it is written in the first epistle of Saint John, That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life. (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us)By their touch, by their seeing, by their hearing, we have been made steadfast.The Apostles taught this faith in many lands and entrusted the word of life to faithful men and established bishops in these lands. At the time of the First Ecumenical Council pious leaders of the Church were gathered from the known world. These men could recall their spiritual lineage back to the time of the Apostles and their main concern was to profess the faith once delivered unto the saints in their own lands by the holy Apostles.These righteous Fathers of the First Council established the saving truth of our Saviors economy, that He is true God and True Man, and was incarnate, suffered, died, was buried and arose again. Establishing us in the true Faith by composing the God inspired Nicene Creed.In the Gospel reading appointed for this day by the God inspired Holy Fathers we hear:And this is live everlasting, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent. I have manifested Thy name unto the men Whom Thou gavest me out of the world:Thine they were, and Thou gavest them Me; and they kept Thy word. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine.This is life everlasting, that we come to know the doctrine of God and know Him by experiencing His grace through the mysteries of the Church and our Christian way of life. Yea, the Holy Fathers we celebrate today knew God and kept His word and guided us to life everlasting as we proclaim in their dismissal hymn:Most glorified art Thou, O Christ our God, Who hast established our holy Fathers as luminous stars upon the earth, and through them didst guide us all to the true Faith. O Most Merciful One, glory be to Thee.In our own day, Saint Philaret the Confessor was just such a Holy Father who kept the deposit of the faith once delivered to the saints, a luminous star that shone upon the earth with the light of truth. He was a quiet and self contained man that inwardly had a fiery love of truth. He understood that the greatest cause of evil in the world today is indifference to the truth:..But if the faithful under the rule of an evil atheism are sufferers for their faith, what do we see now in the so-called free world? Is not that indifference to the truth, which seems not to be hostile and yet, which was judged to be worse than open warfare by the Lord in His appearance to Saint John in the Apocalypse spreading wider and wider? The Lord said, I will cast thee out of My mouth. He threatens those who are neither cold nor hot, but lukewarm, that is, who are indifferent to Him and to the Truth that He proclaims. After all, only lukewarmness and indifference to the truth can explain the success and speed with which modernism, ecumenism and other spiritual rubbish spread among mankind and the religious decay of the free world.But in view of what has taken place in this world, let us recall the exalted exhortation of the Apostle above, Love not the world, nor that which is in the world, who loveth the world hath not the love of the Father. For all that is in the world is the lust of the flesh, the desire of the eyes and the vanity of life (1John 2). And Saint James warns us, know ye not that friendship with the world is enmity towards God? (James 4:4) Thus he that would be friends with the world becometh an enemy of God. (Epistle for Pascha 1974)Thus, indifference to truth leads to all of the passions: lust, greed, pride and vainglory. Indifference to the truth is the source of heresy, schisms, betrayal and the destruction of Churches. Alas, today we see even clerics that are ready to trample on the truth for the sake of ambition, pride, sentimental attachment to a homeland that is not according to God, or some other ulterior motive. The sad events that have recently taken place are a testimony to this.The deposit of truth, the faith once delivered to the saints, transcends ethnic ties and personalities. We are not of Paul or Apollo, or Cephas, we are of Christ. Our homeland is the Holy Trinity. We bless those that brought us the faith and thank God for them. Orthodoxy is a living tradition that cannot be invented. We recognize the beauty and value of the cultures of the Orthodox homelands, but the deposit of faith, worshipping God in spirit and in truth, is our highest priority. As Christians in these last times we must all the more hearken unto the words of Saint Paul, But though we, or an Angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be anathema. As we said before, and I say now again, If anyone preach any other Gospel unto you than that which ye have received, let him be anathema.(Galatians 1:6-10)In these evil days of indifference to the truth, let us look to the great Confessor of our days, Saint Philaret and all of the Holy Fathers in order to find the strength to reject any deviation from Holy Tradition and let us pray to them that we become immovably established in the truth and that our Church be delivered from the evil one. Amen.In Christ,+Fr. Panagiotes
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