Homily – July 19th, 2015
Sunday of the Holy Fathers
[I would like to express my gratitude for your attendance and observance of this holy day – your participation, this day, with your relatives, neighbors, and friends.]
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit! Amen.
Christ is amongst us! He is and ever shall be!
I continue to marvel at the wisdom of the Holy Fathers in their establishment of our ecclesial calendar, our readings, and the compilation of the feast days – more than ever each Sunday it becomes evident that the hand of God is present in our lives.
On this day we have the convergence of three events: the Gospel reading for the day; today is the Sunday of the Holy Fathers; and tomorrow is the Feast Day of the Prophet Elias or Elijah. It all fits within our Lord’s divine plan.
First, let us look at the Gospel reading –
Today’s Gospel reading is from Matthew (5:14-19). The reading begins with the words from Jesus:
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
“You are the light of the world” applies eternally; not only to the Apostles to whom our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ was speaking – but to each one of you. “You are the light of the world.” In other words, as Orthodox Christians and caretakers of God’s creation, you are charged with enlightening the world to God’s will – His divine mercy and love.
You ought not take the light you receive from this divine liturgy, from Holy Communion, and keep it to yourself – “put it under a bushel” – no, you are charged, and this is not optional . . . you have the responsibility to place the divine light “on a stand, and give light to all” – all whom you meet and encounter.
This is not an idle responsibility, rather it is one that must be taken seriously as stewards of His Holy Church and His creation.
It is a charge that the Holy Fathers of the church took seriously; and it is the Holy Fathers that we commemorate today. The 3,281 Holy Fathers of the Seven Ecumenical Councils between the years 325 and 787 who defended our faith from heresies and gave us our faith as it exists today. Many of the Holy Fathers were exiled, martyred, and imprisoned because of their faith – but they collectively lived their faith together. These Holy Fathers were the divine light “on a stand, [giving] light to all” and it is their light that shines upon all of us today.
Then there is the Prophet Elias (Elijah) who shed “light” on the known world in preparation for the coming of the Christ.
We read in Ecclesiasticus 48 “Then stood up Elias the prophet as fire, and his word burned like a lamp . . . O Elias, how wast thou honoured in thy wondrous deeds! and who may glory like unto thee!” (1, 4).
And we read elsewhere in Matthew: “And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him (17.1-3).” This, of course, was at the Feast of the Transfiguration.
And, finally, how does this all apply to you?
You are the light of the world. You have assumed the mantle of the Holy Fathers. And you have the charge to follow Elijah.
In the Gospel of Mark we read: “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much (9.16).”
Pray my brother and sisters that on this Sunday and every Sunday, indeed on every day, that we reflect on our sins and passions that we may be healed . . . pray daily for one another.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.