FEASTS AND SAINTS CELEBRATED TODAY:
John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople
Damaskinos the New Martyr of Mount Athos
Τοῦ ἐν Ἁγίοις Πατρός ἡμῶν Ἰωάννου, Ἀρχιεπισκόπου Κωνσταντινουπόλεως, τοῦ Χρυσοστόμου
Τῆς Ἁγίας Ἀνθούσης, μητρός τοῦ Ἱεροῦ Χρυσοστόμου
READINGS FROM THE BIBLE:
The Reading is from John 21:14-25
At that time, Jesus revealed himself to his disciples after he was raised from the dead, and he said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." A second time he said to him, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go." (This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.) And after this he said to him, "Follow me."
Peter turned and saw following them the disciple whom Jesus loved, who had lain close to his breast at the supper and had said, "Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?" When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, "Lord, what about this man?" Jesus said to him, "If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!" So, the word went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die; but Jesus did not say to him that he would not die. He said, "If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?" This is the disciple who is bearing witness to these things, and who has written these things; and we know that his testimony is true. But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.
Κατὰ Ἰωάννην 21.14-25
Τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ, ἐφανερώθη ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ ἐγερθεὶς ἐκ νεκρῶν. ῞Οτε οὖν ἠρίστησαν, λέγει τῷ Σίμωνι Πέτρῳ ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς· Σίμων ᾿Ιωνᾶ, ἀγαπᾷς με πλεῖον τούτων; λέγει αὐτῷ· ναί, Κύριε, σὺ οἶδας ὅτι φιλῶ σε. λέγει αὐτῷ· βόσκε τὰ ἀρνία μου. λέγει αὐτῷ πάλιν δεύτερον· Σίμων ᾿Ιωνᾶ, ἀγαπᾷς με; λέγει αὐτῷ· ναί, Κύριε, σὺ οἶδας ὅτι φιλῶ σε. λέγει αὐτῷ· ποίμαινε τὰ πρόβατά μου. λέγει αὐτῷ τὸ τρίτον· Σίμων ᾿Ιωνᾶ, φιλεῖς με; ἐλυπήθη ὁ Πέτρος ὅτι εἶπεν αὐτῷ τὸ τρίτον, φιλεῖς με, καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· Κύριε, σὺ πάντα οἶδας, σὺ γινώσκεις ὅτι φιλῶ σε. λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς· βόσκε τὰ πρόβατά μου. ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω σοι, ὅτε ἦς νεώτερος, ἐζώννυες σεαυτὸν καὶ περιεπάτεις ὅπου ἤθελες· ὅταν δὲ γηράσῃς, ἐκτενεῖς τὰς χεῖράς σου, καὶ ἄλλος σε ζώσει, καὶ οἴσει ὅπου οὐ θέλεις. τοῦτο δὲ εἶπε σημαίνων ποίῳ θανάτῳ δοξάσει τὸν Θεόν. καὶ τοῦτο εἰπὼν λέγει αὐτῷ· ἀκολούθει μοι. ἐπιστραφεὶς δὲ ὁ Πέτρος βλέπει τὸν μαθητὴν ὃν ἠγάπα ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς ἀκολουθοῦντα, ὃς καὶ ἀνέπεσεν ἐν τῷ δείπνῳ ἐπὶ τὸ στῆθος αὐτοῦ καὶ εἶπε· Κύριε, τίς ἐστιν ὁ παραδιδούς σε; τοῦτον ἰδὼν ὁ Πέτρος λέγει τῷ ᾿Ιησοῦ· Κύριε, οὗτος δὲ τί; λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς· ἐὰν αὐτὸν θέλω μένειν ἕως ἔρχομαι, τί πρὸς σέ; σὺ ἀκολούθει μοι. ἐξῆλθεν οὖν ὁ λόγος οὗτος εἰς τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς ὅτι ὁ μαθητὴς ἐκεῖνος οὐκ ἀποθνήσκει· καὶ οὐκ εἶπεν αὐτῷ ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς ὅτι οὐκ ἀποθνήσκει, ἀλλ᾽ ἐὰν αὐτὸν θέλω μένειν ἕως ἔρχομαι, τί πρὸς σέ; Οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ μαθητὴς ὁ μαρτυρῶν περὶ τούτων καὶ γράψας ταῦτα, καὶ οἴδαμεν ὅτι ἀληθής ἐστιν ἡ μαρτυρία αὐτοῦ. ἔστι δὲ καὶ ἄλλα πολλὰ ὅσα ἐποίησεν ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς, ἅτινα ἐὰν γράφηται καθ᾽ ἕν, οὐδὲ αὐτὸν οἶμαι τὸν κόσμον χωρῆσαι τὰ γραφόμενα βιβλία. Ἀμήν.
The Reading is from St. Paul's Letter to the Hebrews 7:26-28; 8:1-2
Brethren, it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, unstained, separated from sinners, exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people; he did this once for all when he offered up himself. Indeed, the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect for ever. Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister in the sanctuary and the true tent which is set up not by man but by the Lord.
Πρὸς Ἑβραίους 7:26-28; 8:1-2
Ἀδελφοί, τοιοῦτος γὰρ ἡμῖν ἔπρεπεν ἀρχιερεύς, ὅσιος, ἄκακος, ἀμίαντος, κεχωρισμένος ἀπὸ τῶν ἁμαρτωλῶν, καὶ ὑψηλότερος τῶν οὐρανῶν γενόμενος· ὃς οὐκ ἔχει καθʼ ἡμέραν ἀνάγκην, ὥσπερ οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς, πρότερον ὑπὲρ τῶν ἰδίων ἁμαρτιῶν θυσίας ἀναφέρειν, ἔπειτα τῶν τοῦ λαοῦ· τοῦτο γὰρ ἐποίησεν ἐφάπαξ, ἑαυτὸν ἀνενέγκας. Ὁ νόμος γὰρ ἀνθρώπους καθίστησιν ἀρχιερεῖς, ἔχοντας ἀσθένειαν· ὁ λόγος δὲ τῆς ὁρκωμοσίας τῆς μετὰ τὸν νόμον, υἱὸν εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα τετελειωμένον. Κεφάλαιον δὲ ἐπὶ τοῖς λεγομένοις· τοιοῦτον ἔχομεν ἀρχιερέα, ὃς ἐκάθισεν ἐν δεξιᾷ τοῦ θρόνου τῆς μεγαλωσύνης ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς, τῶν ἁγίων λειτουργός, καὶ τῆς σκηνῆς τῆς ἀληθινῆς, ἣν ἔπηξεν ὁ κύριος, καὶ οὐκ ἄνθρωπος·
The Reading is from Luke 10:25-37
At that time, a lawyer stood up to put Jesus to the test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" He said to him, "What is written in the law? How do you read?" And he answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." And he said to him, "You have answered right; do this, and you will live."
But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, 'Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.' Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?" He said, "The one who showed mercy on him." And Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."
Κατὰ Λουκᾶν 10.25-37
Τῷ καιρῷ ἐκείνῳ, νομικός τις ἀνέστη ἐκπειράζων αὐτὸν καὶ λέγων· διδάσκαλε, τί ποιήσας ζωὴν αἰώνιον κληρονομήσω; ὁ δὲ εἶπε πρὸς αὐτόν· ἐν τῷ νόμῳ τί γέγραπται; πῶς ἀναγινώσκεις; ὁ δὲ ἀποκριθεὶς εἶπεν· ἀγαπήσεις Κύριον τὸν Θεόν σου ἐξ ὅλης τῆς καρδίας σου καὶ ἐξ ὅλης τῆς ψυχῆς σου καὶ ἐξ ὅλης τῆς ἰσχύος σου καὶ ἐξ ὅλης τῆς διανοίας σου, καὶ τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν· εἶπε δὲ αὐτῷ· ὀρθῶς ἀπεκρίθης· τοῦτο ποίει καὶ ζήσῃ. ὁ δὲ θέλων δικαιοῦν ἑαυτὸν εἶπε πρὸς τὸν ᾿Ιησοῦν· καὶ τίς ἐστί μου πλησίον; ὑπολαβὼν δὲ ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς εἶπεν· ἄνθρωπός τις κατέβαινεν ἀπὸ ῾Ιερουσαλὴμ εἰς ῾Ιεριχώ, καὶ λῃσταῖς περιέπεσεν· οἳ καὶ ἐκδύσαντες αὐτὸν καὶ πληγὰς ἐπιθέντες ἀπῆλθον ἀφέντες ἡμιθανῆ τυγχάνοντα. κατὰ συγκυρίαν δὲ ἱερεύς τις κατέβαινεν ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ ἐκείνῃ, καὶ ἰδὼν αὐτὸν ἀντιπαρῆλθεν. ὁμοίως δὲ καὶ Λευΐτης γενόμενος κατὰ τὸν τόπον, ἐλθὼν καὶ ἰδὼν ἀντιπαρῆλθε. Σαμαρείτης δέ τις ὁδεύων ἦλθε κατ᾿ αὐτόν, καὶ ἰδὼν αὐτὸν ἐσπλαγχνίσθη, καὶ προσελθὼν κατέδησε τὰ τραύματα αὐτοῦ ἐπιχέων ἔλαιον καὶ οἶνον, ἐπιβιβάσας δὲ αὐτὸν ἐπὶ τὸ ἴδιον κτῆνος ἤγαγεν αὐτὸν εἰς πανδοχεῖον καὶ ἐπεμελήθη αὐτοῦ· καὶ ἐπὶ τὴν αὔριον ἐξελθών, ἐκβαλὼν δύο δηνάρια ἔδωκε τῷ πανδοχεῖ καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ἐπιμελήθητι αὐτοῦ, καὶ ὅ τι ἂν προσδαπανήσῃς, ἐγὼ ἐν τῷ ἐπανέρχεσθαί με ἀποδώσω σοι. τίς οὖν τούτων τῶν τριῶν πλησίον δοκεῖ σοι γεγονέναι τοῦ ἐμπεσόντος εἰς τοὺς λῃστάς; ὁ δὲ εἶπεν· ὁ ποιήσας τὸ ἔλεος μετ᾿ αὐτοῦ. εἶπεν οὖν αὐτῷ ὁ ᾿Ιησοῦς· πορεύου καὶ σὺ ποίει ὁμοίως.
READINGS FROM THE SYNAXARION:
Τῇ ΙΓ' τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνός, Μνήμη τοῦ ἐν Ἁγίοις Πατρὸς ἡμῶν Ἰωάννου, Ἀρχιεπισκόπου Κωνσταντινουπόλεως, τοῦ Χρυσοστόμου.
Μύσας ὁ χρυσοῦς Ἰωάννης τὸ στόμα,
Ἀφῆκεν ἡμῖν ἄλλο τὰς βίβλους στόμα.
Ἀμφὶ τρίτην δεκάτην σίγησεν χρύσεα χείλη.
Ταῖς τοῦ Χρυσορρήμονος πρεσβείαις, Χριστὲ ὁ Θεός, ἐλέησον καὶ σῶσον ἡμᾶς. Ἀμήν.
Μνήμη τοῦ ἁγίου νέου Ὁσιομάρτυρος Δαμασκηνοῦ Κωνσταντινουπολίτου καὶ ἐν Κων / πόλει κατὰ τὸ 1681 μαρτυρήσαντος.
This greatest and most beloved of all Christian orators was born in Antioch the Great in the year 344 or 347; his pious parents were called Secundus and Anthusa. After his mother was widowed at the age of twenty, she devoted herself to bringing up John and his elder sister in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. John received his literary training under Anthragathius the philosopher, and Libanius the sophist, who was the greatest Greek scholar and rhetorician of his day. Libanius was a pagan, and when asked before his death whom he wished to have for his successor, he said, "John, had not the Christians stolen him from us." With such a training, and with such gifts as he had by nature, John had before him a brilliant career as a rhetorician. But through the good example of his godly mother Anthusa and of the holy Bishop Meletius of Antioch (see Feb. 12), by whom he was ordained reader about the year 370, he chose instead to dedicate himself to God. From the years 374 to 381 he lived the monastic life in the hermitages that were near Antioch. His extreme asceticism undermined his health, compelling him to return to Antioch, where Saint Meletius ordained him deacon about the year 381. Saint Meletius was called to Constantinople later that year to preside over the Second Ecumenical Council, during which he fell asleep in the Lord. In 386 Bishop Flavian ordained John presbyter of the Church of Antioch. Upon his elevation to the priesthood his career as a public preacher began, and his exceptional oratorical gifts were made manifest through his many sermons and commentaries. They are distinguished by their eloquence and the remarkable ease with which rich imagery and scriptural allusions are multiplied; by their depth of insight into the meaning of Scripture and the workings of God's providence; and, not least of all, by their earnestness and moral force, which issue from the heart of a blameless and guileless man who lived first what he preached to others. Because of his fame, he was chosen to succeed Saint Nectarius as Patriarch of Constantinople. He was taken away by stealth, to avoid the opposition of the people, and consecrated Patriarch of Constantinople on February 28, 398, by Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria, who was to prove his mortal enemy.
At that time the Emperor of the East was Arcadius, who had had Saint Arsenius the Great as his tutor (see May 8); Arcadius was a man of weak character, and much under the influence of his wife Eudoxia. The zealous and upright Chrysostom's unsparing censures of the lax morals in the imperial city stung the vain Eudoxia; through Theophilus' plottings and her collaboration, Saint John was banished to Pontus in 403. The people were in an uproar, and the following night an earthquake shook the city; this so frightened the Empress Eudoxia that she begged Arcadius to call Chrysostom back. While his return was triumphant, his reconciliation with the Empress did not last long. When she had a silver statue of herself erected in the forum before the Church of the Holy Wisdom (Saint Sophia) in September of 403, and had it dedicated with much unseemly revelry, Saint John thundered against her, and she could not forgive him. In June of 404 he was exiled to Cucusus, on the borders of Cilicia and Armenia. From here he exchanged letters with Pope Innocent of Rome, who sent bishops and priests to Constantinople requesting that a council be held. Saint John's enemies, dreading his return, prevailed upon the Emperor to see an insult in this, and had John taken to a more remote place of banishment called Pityus near the Caucasus. The journey was filled with bitter sufferings for the aged bishop, both because of the harshness of the elements and the cruelty of one of his 310 guards. He did not reach Pityus, but gave up his soul to the Lord near Comana in Pontus, at the chapel of the Martyr Basiliscus (see May 22), who had appeared to him shortly before, foretelling the day of his death, which came to pass on September 14, 407. His last words were "Glory be to God for all things." His holy relics were brought from Comana to Constantinople thirty-one years later by the Emperor Theodosius the Younger and Saint Pulcheria his sister, the children of Arcadius and Eudoxia, with fervent supplications that the sin of their parents against him be forgiven; this return of his holy relics is celebrated on January 27.
Saint John was surnamed Chrysostom ("Golden-mouth") because of his eloquence. He made exhaustive commentaries on the divine Scriptures and was the author of more works than any other Church Father, leaving us complete commentaries on the Book of Genesis, the Gospels of Saints Matthew and John, the Acts, and all the Epistles of Saint Paul. His extant works are 1,447 sermons and 240 epistles. Twenty-two teachers of the Church have written homilies of praise in his honour. Besides his feasts today and on January 27, he is celebrated as one of the Three Hierarchs on January 30, together with Saint Basil the Great and Saint Gregory the Theologian.
It should be noted that, because September 14 is the Exaltation of the Cross, the Saint's memory has been transferred to this day.
Apolytikion in the Plagal of the Fourth Tone
Ἡ τοῦ στόματός σου καθάπερ πυρσὸς ἐκλάμψασα χάρις, τὴν οἰκουμένην ἐφώτισεν, ἀφιλαργυρίας τῶ κόσμω θησαυροὺς ἐναπέθετο, τὸ ὕψος ἡμῖν τῆς ταπεινοφροσύνης ὑπέδειξεν. Ἀλλὰ σοὶς λόγοις παιδεύων, Πάτερ, Ἰωάννη Χρυσόστομε, πρέσβευε τῶ Λόγῳ Χριστῷ τῶ Θεῷ, σωθῆναι τὰς ψυχὰς ἡμῶν.
Grace shining forth from thy mouth like a beacon hath illumined the universe, and disclosed to the world treasures of uncovetousness, and shown us the heights of humility; but while instructing us by thy words, O Father John Chrysostom, intercede with the Word, Christ our God, to save our souls.
Kontakion in the Plagal of the Second Tone
Εκ τών ουρανών εδέξω τήν θείαν χάριν, καί διά τών σών χειλέων, πάντας διδάσκεις, προσκυνείν εν Τριάδι τόν ένα Θεόν, Ιωάννη Χρυσόστομε, παμμακάριστε Όσιε, επαξίως ευφημούμέν σε, υπάρχεις γάρ καθηγητής, ως τά θεία σαφών.
You received divine grace from Heaven, and by your own lips taught all to worship the One God in Trinity. All-blessed, venerable John Chrysostom, deservedly, we praise you for you are a teacher clearly revealing things divine.
Ανάμεσα στους ιερούς Πατέρας και τους οικουμενικούς διδασκάλους της Εκκλησίας πρώτη θέση κατέχει ο άγιος Ιωάννης ο Χρυσόστομος, του οποίου η Εκκλησία σήμερα γιορτάζει την μνήμη. Η προσωνυμία "Χρυσόστομος", που του εδόθη λίγα χρόνια μετά τον θάνατό του, φανερώνει για την μεγάλη αξία του αγίου Ιωάννου ως διδασκάλου και ρήτορος της Εκκλησίας. Αλλά ο Χρυσόστομος είναι, όπως είπε ο Ιησούς Χριστός, μέγας στην βασιλεία των ουρανών, ως "ποιήσας και διδάξας". Ο βίος, οι διωγμοί και οι θλίψεις του, μέσα στις οποίες έλαμψεν η αγιωσύνη, είναι μαζί με τους λόγους του η μεγάλη διδαχή, που άφησε στην Εκκλησία. Έχει μεγάλες ομοιότητες με τον άγιο Ιωάννη τον Πρόδρομο. Υπήρξεν ασκητικός, ατρόμητος και αμείλικτος ελεγκτής της αμαρτίας και τέλος θύμα του καθήκοντος. "Ου πενίαν δέδοικα", εκήρυττε, "ου πλούτον επιθυμώ· ου θάνατον φοβούμαι, ου ζήσαι εύχομαι, ει μη δια την υμετέραν προκοπήν".
Ὁ Ἅγιος Ἰωάννης ὁ Χρυσόστομος, Ἀρχιεπίσκοπος Κωνσταντινουπόλεως
Ὁ μεγάλος αὐτὸς πατέρας καὶ διδάσκαλος τῆς Ἀνατολικῆς Ὀρθόδοξης Ἐκκλησίας γεννήθηκε στὴν Ἀντιόχεια τὸ 347 μ.Χ. Πατέρας του ἦταν ὁ στρατηγὸς Σεκοῦνδος καὶ μητέρα του ἡ Ἀνθοῦσα. Γρήγορα ἔμεινε ὀρφανὸς ἀπὸ πατέρα, καὶ ἡ μητέρα του - χήρα τότε 20 ἐτῶν - τὸν ἀνέθρεψε καὶ τὸν μόρφωσε κατὰ τὸν καλύτερο χριστιανικὸ τρόπο. Ἦταν εὐφυέστατο μυαλὸ καὶ σπούδασε πολλὲς ἐπιστῆμες στὴν Ἀντιόχεια - κοντὰ στὸν τότε διάσημο ῥήτορα Λιβάνια - ἀλλὰ καὶ στὴν Ἀθήνα, μαζὶ μὲ τὸν ἀγαπημένο του φίλο Μ. Βασίλειο. Ὅταν ἀποπεράτωσε τὶς σπουδές του ἐπανῆλθε στὴν Ἀντιόχεια καὶ ἀποσύρθηκε στὴν ἔρημο γιὰ πέντε χρόνια, ὅπου ἀσκήτευε προσευχόμενος καὶ μελετῶντας τὶς Ἅγιες Γραφές. Ἀσθένησε ὅμως καὶ ἐπέστρεψε στὴν Ἀντιόχεια, ὅπου χειροτονήθηκε διάκονος -τὸ 381, σὲ ἡλικία 34 ἐτῶν - ἀπὸ τὸν Ἀρχιεπίσκοπο Ἀντιοχείας Μελέτιο. Ἀργότερα δὲ ἀπὸ τὸν διάδοχο τοῦ Μελετίου Φλαβιανὸ χειροτονήθηκε πρεσβύτερος σὲ ἡλικία 40 ἐτῶν. Κατὰ τὴν ἱερατική του διακονία ἀνέπτυξε ὅλα τὰ ψυχικά του χαρίσματα, πύρινο θεῖο ζῆλο καὶ πρωτοφανὴ εὐγλωττία στὰ κηρύγματά του. Ἔσειε καὶ συγκλόνιζε τὰ πλήθη τῆς Ἀντιοχείας καὶ συγκινοῦσε τὶς ψυχές τους βαθύτατα. Ἡ φήμη του αὐτὴ ἔφτασε μέχρι τὴν βασιλεύουσα καὶ ἔτσι, τὴν 15η Δεκεμβρίου 397, μὲ κοινὴ ψῆφο βασιλιὰ Ἀρκαδίου καὶ Κλήρου, ἔγινε Πατριάρχης Κωνσταντινουπόλεως, κάτι ποὺ ὁ ἴδιος δὲν ἐπεδίωξε ποτέ. Καὶ ἀπὸ τὴν θέση αὐτὴ ὁ ἱερὸς Χρυσόστομος, ἐκτὸς ἄλλων, ὑπῆρξε αὐστηρὸς ἀσκητὴς καὶ δεινὸς ἑρμηνευτὴς τῆς Ἁγίας Γραφῆς, ὅπως φαίνεται ἀπὸ τὰ πολλὰ συγγράμματά του (διασώθηκαν 804, περίπου, ὁμιλίες του). Ἔργο ἐπίσης τοῦ Χρυσοστόμου εἶναι καὶ ἡ Θεία Λειτουργία, ποὺ τελοῦμε σχεδὸν κάθε Κυριακή, μὲ λίγες μόνο, ἀπὸ τότε μετατροπές. Ὁ ἱερὸς Χρυσόστομος κατὰ τὴν διάρκεια τῆς πατριαρχείας του, ὑπῆρξε ἀδυσώπητος ἐλεγκτὴς κάθε παρανομίας καὶ κακίας. Αὐτὸ ὅμως ἔγινε αἰτία νὰ δημιουργήσει φοβεροὺς ἐχθρούς, καὶ μάλιστα αὐτὴν τὴν αὐτοκράτειρα Εὐδοξία, ἐπειδὴ ἤλεγχε τὶς παρανομίες της. Αὐτὴ μάλιστα, σὲ συνεργασία μὲ τὸν τότε Πατριάρχη Ἀλεξαδρείας Θεόφιλο (ἑνὸς μοχθηροῦ καὶ ἀσεβοῦς ἀνθρώπου), συγκάλεσε σύνοδο (παράνομη) ἀπὸ 36 ἐπισκόπους (ὅλοι τους πνευματικὰ ὕποπτοι καὶ δυσαρεστημένοι ἀπὸ τὸν ἅγιο) στὸ χωριὸ Δρῦς τῆς Χαλκηδόνας καὶ πέτυχε τὴν καθαίρεση καὶ ἐξορία τοῦ Ἁγίου σ᾿ ἕνα χωριὸ τῆς Βιθυνίας. Ἡ ἀπόφαση αὐτὴ ὅμως, τόσο ἐξερέθισε τὰ πλήθη, ὥστε ἀναγκάστηκε αὐτὴ ἡ ἴδια ἡ Εὐδοξία νὰ τὸν ἀνακαλέσει ἀπὸ τὴν ἐξορία καὶ νὰ τὸν ἀποκαταστήσει στὸ θρόνο μὲ ἄλλη συνοδικὴ ἀθωωτικὴ ἀπόφαση (402). Ἀλλὰ λίγο ἀργότερα, ἡ ἀσεβὴς αὐτὴ αὐτοκράτειρα, κατάφερε καὶ πάλι νὰ ἐξορίσει τὸν Ἅγιο (20 Ἰουνίου 404) στὴν Κουκουσὸ τῆς Ἀρμενίας καὶ ἀπὸ ἐκεῖ στὰ Κόμανα, ὅπου μετὰ ἀπὸ πολλὲς κακουχίες καὶ ἄλλες ταλαιπωρίες πέθανε τὸ 407 μ.Χ. Ὁ Μ.Ι. Γαλανὸς στὸν Συναξαριστή του, μεταξὺ τῶν ἄλλων, ἀναφέρει γιὰ τὸν ἱερὸ Χρυσόστομο, ὅτι ὑπῆρξε καὶ ἀναγνωρίζεται ὡς ὁ πιὸ ἄριστος καὶ δημοφιλὴς διδάσκαλος τῆς Χριστιανικῆς Ἐκκλησίας. Κανένας δὲν ἐξήγησε ὅπως αὐτός, μὲ τόσο πλοῦτο καὶ τόση σαφήνεια τὰ νοήματα τῶν θείων Γραφῶν, οὔτε δὲ ὑπῆρξε ἐφάμιλλός του στὴν ἑτοιμολογία, τὴν ἁπλότητα, ἀλλὰ καὶ στὴ φλόγα καὶ τὴ δύναμη τῆς ῥητορείας. Ὑπῆρξε ῥήτορας θαυμαστός, λογοτέχνης ἀπαράμιλλος, βαθύτατος καὶ διεισδυτικότατος, ψυχολόγος καὶ καταπληκτικὸς κοινωνιολόγος μὲ αἴσθημα χριστιανικῆς ἰσότητας, χωρὶς προνομιούχους, μὲ καθολικὴ ἀδελφότητα. Ἀνήκει σ᾿ αὐτοὺς ποὺ φαίνονται «ὡς φωστῆρες ἐν κόσμῳ», δηλαδὴ σὰν φωτεινὰ ἀστέρια μέσα στὸν κόσμο. Νὰ σημειώσουμε ἐδῶ, ὅτι ὁ ἱερὸς Χρυσόστομος πέθανε τὴν 14η Σεπτεμβρίου, ἀλλὰ λόγω ἑορτῆς τῆς ὑψώσεως τοῦ Τιμίου Σταυροῦ μετατέθηκε ἡ ἑορτὴ τῆς μνήμης του τὴν 13η Νοεμβρίου. Ἐπίσης τὴν 15η Δεκεμβρίου ἑορτάζουμε τὴ χειροτονία του σὲ Πατριάρχη Κωνσταντινουπόλεως, τὴν 27ή Ἰανουαρίου τὴν ἀνακομιδὴ τῶν λειψάνων του, ἀλλὰ ἡ μνήμη του ἑορτάζεται καὶ τὴν 30ή Ἰανουαρίου μαζὶ μὲ τὸν Μ. Βασίλειο καὶ τὸν Ἁγ. Γρηγόριο τὸν Θεολόγο. Καὶ τέλος τὴν 26η Φεβρουαρίου ἑορτάζουμε τὴν μνήμη τῆς χειροτονίας του σὲ πρεσβύτερο.
Ὁ Ἅγιος Δαμασκηνός ὁ Νέος Ὁσιομάρτυρας ὁ Κωνσταντινουπολίτης
Καταγόταν ἀπὸ τὸν Γαλατὰ τῆς Κωνσταντινουπόλεως καὶ ὀνομαζόταν Διαμαντῆς. Οἱ γονεῖς του, εὐσεβεῖς χριστιανοί, ὀνομαζόταν Κυριάκος καὶ Κυριακή. Ὁ Διαμαντὴς σὲ μικρὴ ἡλικία ἔμεινε ὀρφανός, καὶ γιὰ νὰ ἀποφύγει τὴν ὀργὴ τῶν Τούρκων, γιὰ κάποιο του παράπτωμα, ἀναγκάστηκε νὰ ἀσπαστεῖ τὸν ἰσλαμισμό. Ἀργότερα ὅμως μετανόησε καὶ πῆγε στὸ Ἅγιον Ὄρος. Ἐκεῖ, στὸ Μοναστήρι τῆς Μεγίστης Λαύρας, ἔγινε μοναχὸς μὲ τὸ ὄνομα Δαμασκηνὸς καὶ ἀσκήθηκε στὴν ἀρετὴ γιὰ 12 χρόνια. Τὸν κατέλαβε ὅμως ὁ πόθος τοῦ μαρτυρίου καὶ μαζὶ μὲ τὸν ἀπερχόμενο ἀπὸ τὴν Λαύρα Πατριάρχη Κωνσταντινουπόλεως Διονύσιο, ἦλθε στὴ Βασιλεύουσα. Ἐκεῖ δημόσια κήρυττε τὸν Χριστὸ καὶ προέτρεπε τοὺς μουσουλμάνους ν᾿ ἀρνηθοῦν τὸν Μωάμεθ. Οἱ Τοῦρκοι τὸν πέρασαν γιὰ τρελὸ καὶ στὴν ἀρχὴ δὲν τοῦ ἔδωσαν σημασία. Ἀλλ᾿ ὁ Δαμασκηνός με τὰ κηρύγματά του ἔγινε τόσο προκλητικὸς στοὺς Τούρκους, μὲ ἀποτέλεσμα νὰ τὸν συλλάβουν καὶ ἀφοῦ σκληρὰ τὸν βασάνισαν, τὸν ἀποκεφάλισαν μπροστὰ στὴν πόρτα τοῦ Πατριαρχείου στὶς 13 Νοεμβρίου 1681. Τὸ λείψανό του ἐνταφιάσθηκε στὸ ναὸ τῆς Θεοτόκου, στὴ νῆσο Χάλκη.
Our Father among the Saints John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople (407)
This greatest of Christian orators is commemorated not only today, but as one of the Three Holy Hierarchs (with St Basil the Great and St Gregory the Theologian) on January 30.
He was born in Antioch to pious parents around 345. His mother was widowed at the age of twenty, and devoted herself to rearing her son in piety. He received his literary and oratorical training from the greatest pagan teachers of the day. Though an illustrious and profitable career as a secular orator was open to him, he chose instead to dedicate himself to God. He lived as a monk from 374 to 38, eventually dwelling as a hermit in a cave near Antioch. Here his extreme ascetic practices ruined his health, so that he was forced to return to Antioch, where he was ordained to the priesthood. In Antioch his astonishing gifts of preaching first showed themselves, earning him the epithet Chrysostomos, "Golden-mouth", by which he became universally know. His gifts became so far-famed that he was chosen to succeed St Nectarius as Patriarch of Constantinople. He was taken to Constantinople secretly (some say he was actually kidnapped) to avoid the opposition of the Antiochian people to losing their beloved preacher. He was made Patriarch of Constantinople in 398.
Archbishop John shone in his sermons as always, often censuring the corrupt morals and luxurious living of the nobility. For this he incurred the anger of the Empress Eudoxia, who had him exiled to Pontus in 403. The people protested by rioting, and the following night an earthquake shook the city, so frightening the Empress that she had Chrysostom called back. The reconciliation was short-lived. Saint John did not at all moderate the intensity of his sermons, and when the Empress had a silver statue of herself erected outside the Great Church in 403, accompanied by much revelry, the Patriarch spoke out against her, earning her unforgiving anger. In 404 he was exiled to Cucusus, near Armenia. When Pope Innocent of Rome interceded on his behalf, the imperial family only exiled him further, to a town called Pityus near the Caucasus. The journey was so difficult and his guards so cruel that the frail Archbishop gave up his soul to God before reaching his final place of exile, in 407. His last words were "Glory be to God for all things."
Saint John Chrysostom is the author of more written works than any other Church Father: his works include 1,447 recorded sermons, 240 epistles, and complete commentaries on Genesis, the Gospels of Matthew and John, the Acts of the Apostles, and all the Epistles of St Paul.
His repose was on September 14, but since that is the date of the Exaltation of the Cross, his commemoration has been transferred to this day.
Sainted John Chrysostomos (Zlatoust), Archbishop of Constantinople, one of the Three OEcumenical Hierarchs [in English termed "Three Saints", Comm. 30 January], was born at Antioch in about the year 347 into the family of a military-commander. His father, Secundus, died soon after the birth of his son. His mother, Anthusa, widowed at twenty years of age, did not seek to remarry but rather devoted all her efforts to the raising of her son in the dictates of Christian piety. The youth studied under the finest philosophers and rhetoricians. But, scorning the vain disciplines of pagan knowledge, the future hierarch turned himself to the profound study of Holy Scripture and prayerful contemplation. Saint Meletios, Bishop of Antioch (Comm. 12 February), loved John like a son, guided him in the faith, and in the year 367 baptised him. After three years John was made a church-reader. Later on, when Saint Meletios had been sent off into exile by the emperor Valens in the year 372, John together with Theodore (afterwards bishop of Mopsuetia) studied under the experienced instructors of ascetic life, the presbyters Flavian and Diodor of Tarsis. The highly refined Diodor had especial influence upon the youth. When John's mother died, he accepted monasticism, which he called the "true philosophy". Soon John and his friend Basil came to be regarded for the occupying of episcopal cathedra-chairs, and the friends decided to withdraw into the wilderness, fleeing assignment. But Saint John, himself evading the dignity of archbishop out of humility, secretly assisted in the consecration of Basil.
During this period Saint John wrote his "Six Discourses on the Priesthood", a great work of Orthodox pastoral theology. The saint spent four years in the toils of wilderness life, asceticising under the guidance of an experienced spiritual guide. And here he wrote three books entitled, "Against the Opponents of Those Attracted to the Monastic Life", and a collection entitled, "A Comparison of the Monk with the Emperor" (or, "Comparison of Imperial Power, Wealth and Eminence, with the True and Christian Wisdom-Loving Monastic Life"), -- both works which are pervaded by a profound reflection of the worthiness of the monastic vocation. For two years the saint maintained complete silence, situated in a solitary cave. But to recover his health the saint was obliged to return to Antioch. In the year 381 the bishop of Antioch Saint Meletios ordained him deacon. The years following were devoted to work over new theological tomes: "Concerning Providence" ("To the Ascetic Stagirios"), "Book Concerning Virginity", "To a Young Widow" (2 discourses), and the "Book About Saint Babylos and Against Julian and the Pagans".
In the year 386 Saint John was ordained presbyter by the bishop of Antioch, Flavian. They imposed upon him the duty to preach the Word of God. Saint John was a splendid preacher, and for his rare talent with God-inspired words he received from his flock the title -- the "Golden-Tongued" (Grk. "Chrysostomos", Slav. "Zlatoust"). For twelve years the saint preached in church amidst a crowded throng of people, deeply stirring the hearts of his listeners, usually twice a week, but sometimes daily.
In his pastoral zeal to provide Christians a rather better comprehension of Holy Scripture, Saint John made recourse to sacred-textual hermeneutics -- the discipline of commentary explanation of the Word of God (i.e. exegesis"). Among his exegetical works are commentaries on entire books of the Holy Scripture (Genesis, the Psalter, the Gospels of Matthew and John, the Epistles of the Apostle Paul), and also many an homily on individual texts of the Holy Bible, but likewise instructions on the Feastdays, laudations on the Saints, and also apologetic (i.e. defensive) homilies (against Anomoeans, Judaisers and pagans). Saint John as presbyter zealously fulfilled the command of caring for the needy: under him the Antioch Church each day provided sustenance to as many as 3,000 virgins and widows, not including in this number the shut-ins, wanderers and the sick.
At the beginning of Great Lent in 388 the saint began his commentary on the Book of Genesis. Over the forty-day period he preached 32 homilies. During Passion week he spoke about the Betrayal and about the Cross, and during the Paschal Bright Week his parishioners were daily instructed by his pastoral discourse. His exegesis on the Book of Genesis was concluded only at the end of October (388). With Pascha in the following year the saint began his examination of the Gospel of John, and towards the end of the year 389 he switched over to the Gospel of Matthew. In the year 391 the Antioch Christians listened to his commentary on the Epistles of the holy Apostle Paul to the Romans and to the Corinthians. In 393 he addressed the Epistles to the Galatians, the Ephesians, Timothy, Titus and the Psalms. In his homily on the Epistle to the Ephesians, Saint John denounced an Antioch schism: "I tell ye and I witness before ye, that to tear asunder the Church means nothing less, than to fall into heresy. The Church is the house of the Heavenly Father, One Body and One Spirit".
The fame of the holy preacher grew, and in the year 397 with the demise of the Constantinople archbishop Nektarios -- successor to Sainted Gregory the Theologian, Saint John Chrysostom was summoned from Antioch for placement upon the Constantinople cathedra-seat. At the capital, the holy archpastor was not able to preach as often as he had at Antioch. Many matters awaited resolving by the saint, and he began with the most important -- with the spiritual perfection of the priesthood. And in this he himself was the best example. The financial means apportioned for the archbishop were channelled by the saint into the upkeep of several hospices for the sick and two hostels for pilgrims. The archpastor sufficed on scant food, and he refused invitations to meals. The zeal of the saint in affirming the Christian faith spread not only to the inhabitants of Constantinople, but also to Thrace -- to include Slavs and Goths, and to Asia Minor and the Pontine region. He established a bishop for the Bosphorus Church, situated in the Crimea. Saint John sent off zealous missionaries to Phoenicia, to Persia, and to the Skyths, to convert pagans to Christ. He also wrote missives to Syria to bring back the Marcionites into the Church, and he accomplished this. Preserving the oneness of the Church, the saint would not permit a powerful Gothic military-commander, who was dictating terms to the emperor, to open an Arian church at Constantinople. The saint exerted much effort in the arranging of august Divine-services: he compiled a Liturgy, he introduced antiphonal singing for the all-night vigil, and he wrote several prayers for the sacramental rite of anointing the sick with oil. The dissolute morals of people in the capital, especially at the imperial court, found in the person of the saintly hierarch its denunciation, irrespective of person. When the empress Eudoxia connived at the confiscation of the last properties of the widow and children of a disgraced dignitary, the saint rose to their defense. The arrogant empress did not concede and nursed a grudge against the archpastor. The hatred of Eudoxia against the saint blazed forth anew, when malefactors told her, that apparently the saint had her particularly in mind in his instruction on women of vanity. A trial-court was convened composed of hierarchs, which earlier had been justly condemned by Chrysostom: Theophilos of Alexandria, the Gabala bishop Severian, who shortly before had been banished from the capital because of improprieties, and others. This court of judgement declared Saint John deposed, and for his insult to the empress to be subject to execution. The emperor substituted exile for execution. At the church surged an angry crowd, resolved to defend their pastor. The saint, in order to avoid a riot, gave himself over into the hands of the authorities. That very night at Constantinople there occurred an earthquake. The court was ashudder. The terrified Eudoxia urgently besought the emperor to bring back the saint and promptly dispatched a letter to the banished pastor, beseeching him to return. And anew, in the capital church, the saint in a short talk praised the Lord, "For All His Ways". The slanderers fled to Alexandria. But already after a mere two months a new denunciation provoked the wrath of Eudoxia. In March of the year 404 there gathered an unjust Council, decreeing the exile of Saint John. Upon his removal from the capital, a conflagration reduced to ashes the temple of Saint Sophia and the Senate edifice. Devastating barbarian incursions soon followed, and in October 404 Eudoxia died. Even pagans saw in these events Heavenly chastisement for the unjust judgement rendered against the saint of God.
Situated in Armenia, the saint strove all the more to encourage his spiritual children. In numerous letters (245 are preserved) to bishops in Asia, Africa, Europe and particularly to his friends in Constantinople, Saint John consoled the suffering, guiding and giving support to his followers. In the Winter of 406 Saint John was confined to his bed with sickness. But his enemies were not to be appeased. From the capital came orders to transfer Saint John to desolate Pitius (in Abkhazia). Worn out by sickness, under accompanying military escort for three months in the rain and frost, the saint made his final transferral, -- at Comana his powers failed him. At the crypt of Saint Basiliskos (Comm. 22 May), comforted by a vision of the martyr ("Despair not, brother John! Tomorrow we shalt be together"), and having communed the Holy Mysteries, the oecumenical hierarch with the words, "Glory to God for everything!", expired to the Lord on 14 September 407. The holy relics of Saint John Chrysostom were solemnly transferred to Constantinople in the year 438. The student of Saint John, the Monk Isidor Pelusiotes (Comm. 4 February), wrote: "The house of David is grown strong, and the house of Saul enfeebled: he is victor over the storms of life, and is entered into Heavenly repose". The memory of Sainted John Chrysostom is celebrated by Holy Church on 27 and 30 January and 13 November.
THE PROLOGUE FROM ORCHID:
1. Saint John Chrysostom, Patriarch of Constantinople
John was born in Antioch in the year 354. His father, Secundus, was an imperial commander and his mother's name was Anthusa. Studying Greek philosophy, John became disgusted with Hellenic paganism and adopted the Christian Faith as the one and all-embracing truth. Meletius, Patriarch of Antioch, baptized John, and his parents also subsequently received baptism. Following his parents' repose, John was tonsured a monk and lived a strict life of asceticism. He then wrote a book, On the Priesthood, after which the Holy Apostles John and Peter appeared to him, and prophesied that he would have a life of great service, great grace and great suffering. When he was to be ordained a priest, an angel of God appeared simultaneously to John and to Patriarch Flavian (Meletius's successor). While the patriarch was ordaining John, a shining white dove was seen hovering over John's head. Glorified for his wisdom, asceticism and power of words, John was chosen as Patriarch of Constantinople at the behest of Emperor Arcadius. As patriarch, he governed the Church for six years with unequalled zeal and wisdom. He sent missionaries to the pagan Celts and Scythians and eradicated simony in the Church, deposing many bishops guilty of this vice. He extended the charitable works of the Church and wrote a special order of the Divine Liturgy. He shamed the heretics, denounced Empress Eudoxia, interpreted Holy Scripture with his golden mind and tongue, and bequeathed the Church many precious books of his homilies. The people glorified him, the envious loathed him, and the Empress, on two occasions, sent him into exile. John spent three years in exile, and reposed as an exile on the Feast of the Elevation of the Precious and Life-giving Cross, September 14, 407, in the town of Comana in Georgia. Before his repose, the Holy Apostles John and Peter appeared to him again, as did the Holy Martyr Basiliscus (May 22) in whose church he received Communion for the last time. His last words were, "Glory be to God for all things,'' and with that, the soul of the golden-mouthed patriarch was taken into Paradise. Chrysostom's head reposes in the Church of the Dormition in Moscow, and his body reposes in the Vatican in Rome.
2. The Holy Martyrs Antoninus, Nicephorus, Germanus and Manetha
The first three were watching the pagans worshiping idols with shouts and dancing at one of their feasts. Fearlessly, they went before the crowd and preached the One God in Trinity. Firmilian-the eparch of Palestinian Caesarea, where this occurred-was so enraged at the action of these three Christians that he commanded their immediate beheading. Manetha was a Christian maiden who followed the martyrs as they were being led to the place of execution. She too was arrested, and after cruel tortures, was burned to death. They all suffered in the year 308 and entered into the eternal joy of the Eternal God.
3. The Venerable Martyr Damascene
Damascene was born in Galata in Constantinople and at first was called Diamantis. In his youth he lived immorally, and even became a Moslem. Then bitter repentance ensued, and he went to the Holy Mountain, where he lived a life of strict asceticism for twelve years, as a monk in the Lavra of St. Athanasius. But, desiring martyrdom to expiate his sins, Damascene went to Constantinople and visited the mosques, making the sign of the Cross and shouting that the Turks' faith was false and that Jesus Christ is God and Lord. He was beheaded before the gate of the Phanar on November 13, 1681. His relics repose on Halki, in the Monastery of the Holy Trinity.
HYMN OF PRAISE
Saint John Chrysostom
he Church glorifies St. John
The "Golden-mouth,'' blessed by God,
Christ's great soldier,
Who is the adornment and boast of the Church:
Profound of heart and mind,
And a golden-stringed harp of words.
He plumbed the depths of mysteries,
And found the pearl that shines as the stars.
Exalted in mind to heaven's height,
He expounded divine truth;
And his vision is true throughout history.
He gave all to the Son of God.
He revealed to us the horrors of sin,
And the virtues that adorn a man;
He showed us the most precious mysteries,
And all the sweet richness of Paradise.
Evangelist, interpreter of the Gospel
And bearer of spiritual joy,
Zealous for Christ like an apostle,
He would accept no injustice.
He was tormented like any martyr,
And received his torment as a pledge of salvation.
This servant of Christ showed himself true;
Therefore, the Church glorifies Chrysostom.
Punishment and reward! Both of these are in the hands of God. But, as this earthly life is only a shadow of the true life in the heavens, so punishment and reward here on earth are only a shadow of true punishment and reward in eternity. The principle persecutors of the saint of God Chrysostom were Patriarch Theophilus of Alexandria and Empress Eudoxia. After Chrysostom's martyric death, bitter punishment befell them both. Theophilus went mad, and Eudoxia was banished from the imperial court by Emperor Arcadius. Eudoxia soon became ill with an incurable disease-wounds opened up all over her body, and worms came out of her wounds. Such was the stench that she gave off, that it was not easy for a person on the street to pass by her house. Physicians used all the most powerful perfumes and incense if only to overcome the stench from the wicked empress, but had little success. The empress finally died in corruption and agony. Even after death, the hand of God lay heavy on her. The coffin containing her body shook day and night for a full thirty-four years until Emperor Theodosius translated the relics of St. John Chrysostom to Constantinople. But what happened to Chrysostom after his repose? Reward-such reward as only God can give. Adeltius, the Arabian bishop who received the exiled Chrysostom into his home in Cucusus, prayed to God after Chrysostom's repose that He reveal to him where John's soul was to be found. Adeltius then had a vision while at prayer. It was as though he were out of himself, and was led through the heavens by a radiant youth who showed him the hierarchs, pastors and teachers of the Church in order, calling each of them by name-but he did not see John. Then that angel of God led him to the passage out of Paradise, and Adeltius was downcast. When the angel asked him why he was sad, Adeltius replied that he was sorry that he had not seen his beloved teacher, John Chrysostom. The angel replied: "No man who is still in the flesh can see him, for he is at God's throne with the Cherubim and Seraphim.''
on the foundation and the cornerstone
And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone (Ephesians 2:20).
Brethren, the foundation of the apostles and prophets is their life and work: the Old and the New Testaments. Who unites the apostles and the prophets? Christ the Lord. Without Him, the prophets would not understand the apostles, nor would the apostles understand the prophets. Therefore, He is the fulfillment of the prophets and witness of the apostles. Thus, He is the Cornerstone that ties the prophets and the apostles together, as a cornerstone holds the walls together. The Old and New Testaments are united in Him, have their meaning in Him, revolve around Him, were inspired by Him and are upheld by Him, the Lord Jesus Christ. Where would the pagans and Jews meet, and where would they understand one another, if not in Jesus Christ the Lord? Nowhere, except in Him. In Him and through Him they are united in one new man, in one immortal body, in One, Holy and Catholic Church. Only through the Lord Jesus Christ are the body and the soul united in a loftier and holier friendship. The bonds between the soul and body were at enmity until His coming in the flesh, and that enmity led to the destruction of the soul. He reconciled and sanctified them both. Thus, He became the Cornerstone of every immortal and God-pleasing edifice-be that edifice an individual man or family or nation or the entire race of man-either in the present, in the past, or in the future; of the Old Covenant or the New Covenant. He is the Chief Cornerstone in every building, as He is the Head of the Body, God's Church.
O Lord Jesus Christ, our Cornerstone of salvation, have mercy on us and save us.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
Στὸ ἐρώτημα τοῦ νομικοῦ τοῦ σημερινοῦ Εὐαγγελίου τοῦ εὐαγγελιστοῦ Λουκᾶ «Διδάσκαλε, τί νὰ κάνω γιὰ νὰ κληρονομήσω τὴν αἰώνιο ζωή;», ὁ Χριστὸς τοῦ ἀπαντᾶ πὼς πρέπει νὰ διαβάσει τὸ νόμο τοῦ Θεοῦ. Ἐκεῖ τὰ λέγει ὅλα.
Ἀλλὰ τί λέγει ὁ νόμος τοῦ Θεοῦ; Δύο βασικὲς ἐντολές, ποὺ ἂν τηρηθοῦν, τότε ὁ ἄνθρωπος θὰ ζήσει. Αὐτὲς οἱ δύο ἐντολὲς εἶναι ἡ ἀγάπη πρὸς τὸ Θεὸ μὲ ὅλη τὴν καρδιά, μὲ ὅλη τὴν ψυχή, μὲ ὅλη τὴ δύναμη καὶ μὲ ὅλη τὴν σκέψη. Καὶ ἡ ἀγάπη πρὸς τὸν πλησίον κατὰ τὸ μέτρο τῆς ἀγάπης πρὸς τὸν ἑαυτό μας.
Ἀπαντώντας ὁ Χριστὸς στὸ ἐρώτημα ἑνὸς ἄλλου νομικοῦ, ὅπως καταγράφεται στὸ Εὐαγγέλιο τοῦ εὐαγγελιστοῦ Ματθαίου, γιὰ τὸ ποιὰ ἐντολὴ εἶναι ἡ μεγαλύτερη τοῦ λέγει ἀκριβῶς αὐτὰ ποὺ ἀκούσαμε στὸ σημερινὸ Εὐαγγέλιο. Δηλαδὴ τὴν καθ᾿ ὁλοκληρίαν ἀγάπη πρὸς τὸ Θεὸ καὶ τὴν ἀγάπη πρὸς τὸν πλησίον.
Ἐπάνω σ᾿ αὐτὲς τὶς δύο ἐντολὲς στηρίζεται ὁλόκληρο τὸ οἰκοδόμημα τοῦ Χριστιανισμοῦ. Ἀκόμη δὲ καὶ στὸ χῶρο τῆς Παλαιᾶς Διαθήκης ἀποτελεῖ τὴν ζωὴ καὶ τὴν ψυχὴ κάθε ἠθικῆς καὶ πνευματικῆς διδασκαλίας.
Ξαναδιαβάζοντας τὶς ἐντολὲς τοῦ θεϊκοῦ νόμου καὶ ἰδιαιτέρως τὴν ἐντολὴ τῆς ἀγάπης πρὸς τὸ Θεό, ἀντιλαμβανόμαστε πὼς ὁ Θεὸς δὲν ἐπιθυμεῖ μισὰ πράγματα. Δηλαδὴ δὲν ζητεῖ ἕνα μέρος ἀπὸ τὴν ὕπαρξή μας ἀλλὰ ὁλόκληρη. Γι᾿ αὐτὸ καὶ λέγει πὼς ἡ ἀγάπη μας πρὸς Αὐτὸν πρέπει νὰ εἶναι μὲ ὅλη τὴν καρδιά, τὴν ψυχή, τὴ δύναμη καὶ τὴ σκέψη μας. Ὅλα πρέπει νὰ δοθοῦν σ᾿ Αὐτόν. Δὲν κάνει λοιπὸν συμφωνίες μαζί μας γιὰ τὸ πόσο θὰ δώσουμε. Γιατὶ Ἐκεῖνος τὴν συμφωνία Του τὴν ἔχει κάνει καὶ ἔχει ὑποσχεθεῖ πὼς θὰ εἶναι πάντα μαζί μας.
Ἔτσι, ὁ Χριστὸς ὁλόκληρος καὶ μοναδικὸς δίδεται σὲ μᾶς· προσφέρει τὰ πάντα, ἀφοῦ προσφέρει τὴν ἴδια τὴν ζωή Του.
Ζητεῖ καὶ ἐμεῖς νὰ εἴμαστε μαζί Του, ὄχι κατὰ ἕνα τμῆμα ἢ τὸ μισό, μὰ ὁλόκληροι. Γιατὶ ζητεῖ ν᾿ ἁγιάσει ὁλόκληρη τὴν ἀνθρώπινη ὕπαρξη, δηλαδὴ καὶ ψυχικὰ καὶ σωματικά. Νὰ δωρήσει τὴ χάρη καὶ τὴν εὐλογία Του σ᾿ αὐτοὺς ποὺ ἔχουν ἀποφασίσει νὰ εἶναι μαζί Του καὶ νὰ τοὺς κάνει ἀδελφούς Του.
Ὥστε ὁ Χριστὸς δὲν μπορεῖ νὰ δεχθεῖ τὴ νοοτροπία καὶ πρακτικὴ μερικῶν, ποὺ λέγουν πὼς πιστεύουν στὸν Χριστὸ, μὰ εἶναι ταυτόχρονα καὶ μὲ τὸ διάβολο. Λέγουν πὼς ἐπιθυμοῦν ν᾿ ἀκολουθήσουν καὶ ν᾿ ἀκούσουν τὸν Χριστό, ἀλλὰ στὴν πράξη λοξοδρομοῦν σὲ ἄλλες ἀτραποὺς, ἀλλότριες καὶ σκοτεινές· τοὺς δρόμους τοῦ διαβόλου.
Στὴν περίπτωση αὐτὴ καλὰ θὰ εἶναι γι᾿ αὐτοὺς ν᾿ ἀκούσουν τὸν λόγο τοῦ Χριστοῦ, ποὺ τονίζει «πὼς δὲν μποροῦμε σὲ δύο κυρίους νὰ δουλεύουμε· γιατὶ ἢ τὸν ἕνα θὰ ἀγαπήσουμε ἢ τὸν ἄλλο θὰ μισήσουμε».
Ὅσοι λοιπὸν ἔχουν ἐπιλέξει ἕνα τέτοιο διπλὸ δρόμο νὰ πορεύονται, ἔχουν κάνει σοβαρὸ λάθος. Γιατὶ ὅσο καὶ ἂν θέλουν νὰ συνταιριάσουν ἀντίθετα πράγματα· ὅσο καὶ ἂν καταβάλουν προσπάθειες γιὰ νὰ συγκεράσουν ἐνάντιες διδασκαλίες καὶ πρακτικές, στὸ τέλος γίνεται ἕνας φαῦλος κύκλος, ἀπὸ τὸν ὁποῖο φυσικὰ χαμένος εἶναι ὁ ἄνθρωπος.
Αὐτὴ δὲ ἡ προσπάθεια συγκερασμοῦ ἀντιθέτων κατευθύνσεων, φέρει στὸν ἄνθρωπο τὴν ἄμβλυνση τῶν μεγάλων ἀξιῶν τῆς ζωῆς· ἀποδυναμώνει τὶς πνευματικὲς δυνατότητές του· ἀλλοτριώνει τὸ πρόσωπο καὶ ἀπαξιώνει ὅ,τι καλὸ καὶ θεάρεστο μπορεῖ νὰ ὑπάρχει.
Ὁ Χριστὸς ζητεῖ τὴν καθ᾿ ὁλοκληρίαν ἀγάπη, γιὰ νὰ δείξει πὼς ὁ ἄνθρωπος, αὐτὴ ἡ σπουδαία καὶ κορυφαία δημιουργία τοῦ Θεοῦ, δὲν μπορεῖ νὰ ὑπάρξει, νὰ ζήσει ἔξω ἀπὸ τὴ θεϊκὴ οἰκογένεια. Εἶναι ὡσὰν τὸ ψάρι ἔξω ἀπὸ τὰ νερά. Χάνεται, σβήνει, ἀποθνήσκει!
Ἐνῶ ὁ ἄνθρωπος, ποὺ ἀγαπάει τὸ Θεὸ μὲ ὅλη του τὴν ὕπαρξη, νοιώθει πὼς ἀπαντάει στὴν μεγάλη καὶ ἀσύλληπτη ἀγάπη τοῦ Θεοῦ. Καὶ τότε γεμίζει τὴν ζωή του μὲ τὴν χάρη Του καὶ τὴν εὐλογία. Καὶ αὐτὴ ἡ χάρη καὶ ἡ εὐλογία τοῦ δίνουν κουράγιο καὶ δύναμη ν᾿ αὐξήσει τὴν ἀγάπη του καὶ νὰ τονώσει τὴν ἐπιθυμία του νὰ εἶναι συνεχῶς μὲ τὸν Χριστό.
Ἀγαπητοὶ ἀδελφοί, ὁ νόμος τοῦ Θεοῦ ὁμιλεῖ καὶ γιὰ τὴν ἀγάπη, ποὺ ὀφείλουμε νὰ δίνουμε πρὸς τὸν πλησίον. Μόνο ποὺ ἐμεῖς, σ᾿ αὐτὴν τὴν ὁμιλία σήμερα, μείναμε στὸ πρῶτο, δηλαδὴ γιὰ τὴν ἀγάπη πρὸς τὸ Θεό. Κάποια ἄλλη φορὰ στὸ παρελθὸν εἴχαμε μιλήσει γιὰ τὴν ἀγάπη πρὸς τὸν πλησίον.
Νὰ θυμόμαστε λοιπὸν πὼς ὁ Χριστὸς μᾶς ἀγαπάει καὶ κάθε στιγμὴ κάνει τὸ πᾶν γιὰ νὰ εἶναι μαζί μας. Τί ὀφείλουμε νὰ κάνουμε ἐμεῖς μπροστὰ σ᾿ αὐτὴ τὴν μεγάλη ἀγάπη Του; Τὸ ἐλάχιστο ποὺ ἔχουμε νὰ κάνουμε· νὰ Τοῦ δώσουμε τὴ δική μας μικρὴ καὶ ἀδύναμη ἀγάπη μας.
Αὐτὸς γνωρίζει· κι αὐτὸ τὸ μικρὸ καὶ ἀδύναμο θὰ τὸ κάνει μεγάλο καὶ ἰσχυρό. Σὲ ἐμᾶς δὲ ποὺ Τὸν ἀγαποῦμε, θὰ χαρίζει τὴ χάρη καὶ τὴν εὐλογία Του.