By His Eminence Metropolitan Hierotheos
of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou
Last Sunday, beloved brethren, we celebrated the Prophet Ezekiel, and today we celebrate some Apostles of the Seventy, namely Silas, Silouan, Epainetos, Crescens and Andronikos.
Christ, apart from the narrow circle of His disciples, also had a wider circle, the Seventy, who He prepared for missionary work. Luke the Evangelist writes: "After this the Lord appointed seventy others and sent them two by two ahead of Him to every town and place where He was about to go" (Lk. 10:1). And further on he writes: "The seventy returned with joy and said, 'Lord, even the demons submit to us in Your name' (Lk. 10:17).
Among these Seventy Apostles were the Holy Apostles we celebrate today. According to Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite, Saint Silas was associated with the Apostle Paul and became the Bishop of Corinth, Saint Silouan became Bishop of Thessaloniki, Epainetos became Bishop of Carthage, and Saint Crescens became Bishop of Cartagena, which is the Cartagena of Spain. All four of these apostolic men struggled to spread the Christian faith and establish the Church, reposing venerably and led to their desired Lord.
The sacred hymnographer in the troparia he prepared mentions that these apostolic men were all-wise, having been illuminated by the lightning of the Spirit, and travelling throughout the entire earth, they illumined believers. Also, he uses the image of clouds, because these Saints were spiritual clouds who went to all the ends of the earth, dropping heavenly rain that soaked the souls of the faithful with Divine Grace, eliminating the weeds of atheism and making their souls fruitful.
These Holy Apostles proved to be "physicians of souls and saviors of the body", using the spiritual medicine of Divine Grace which heals also the illnesses of the body, and for those who are healthy in body, it is for the illnesses according to their soul.
Our Church is called Apostolic, as we confess in the Symbol of Faith, because it is based on the teaching and work of the Apostles, who were sent by Christ to the whole world to preach and to baptize. Successors of the Apostles were the Fathers, and successors of the Fathers were the Bishops throughout the ages, until today, who carry over to people the true faith, teaching and life of revealed truth. The Church is Apostolic because it is Patristic, for without the Fathers, who are the successors of the Holy Apostles, the apostolicity of the Church would not have survived. One reason the Orthodox Church is the eminent Apostolic Church, which preserves the truth, is because it is Patristic. And, of course, the Fathers are not confined to the first eight centuries of Christianity, as some claim, but they extend to all ages. Fathers of the Church are the sacred Photios, Saint Symeon the New Theologian, Saint Gregory Palamas, Saint Mark the Evgenikos, Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite, etc. Every age of ecclesiastical life is a patristic age.
In America there are many "churches" that all claim authenticity, and there are people looking to find the historic Church; the Church, that is, which preserves this revealed truth of faith and life. And many of them confess that this historic Church they found in the Orthodox Church, which is the Church of the Prophets, the Apostles, the Fathers, the Ecumenical Synods, the Venerable Ones and the Martyrs. That is, there is an uninterrupted succession of faith, ordination and life.
We should consider it an honor to belong to this Church and we can have communion with the Twelve and Seventy Apostles, as well as their successors.
Source: Ekklesiastiki Paremvasi, "Κυριακή 30 Ιουλίου: Άγιοι Απόστολοι εκ των Εβδομήκοντα Σίλας, Σιλουανός, Επαινετός, Κρήσκης και Ανδρόνικος", February 2005. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.