August 24, 2014

Sunday as the Lord's Day According to St. Kosmas the Aitolos

Sacred Metropolis of Gortynos and Megalopoleos
Dimitsana - Megalopolis

Sunday 24 August 2014

A Sermon of the Metropolitan

1. Today, my Christian brethren, the 24th of August, our holy Church celebrates the memory of a great Saint, that of the Holy Hieromartyr and Equal to the Apostles Kosmas the Aitolos. He was an Athonite Hieromonk who was pained when he heard that many Christians in our enslaved Greek nation were uncatechized, and thus they changed their beliefs. This is why, with the blessing of his Elder, he left the Monastery and went on an apostolic journey, which brought him to be martyred for the love of Christ.

He succeeded in his missionary work perfectly, because he was richly blessed by God. And he was richly blessed because he had good motives and acted well. The motive of the missionary Saint Kosmas the Aitolos was his love for the people of God. And in his missions he acted with humility, saying to Christians that he was not worthy to preach to them, nor was he worthy to kiss their feet! Still the Saint in his missions had an Orthodox ecclesiology, since he did not dare to begin his preaching unless he first received the blessing of the Patriarch. And with the little means of those days he left Mount Athos to go to Constantinople, to receive a patriarchal blessing to preach to the enslaved nation.

His preaching was not poor and without flavor, like many of the sermons of preachers today who are so-called educated, but it was a simple preaching, so that it was understood, yet it was a theological sermon, that contained the entire tradition of our faith. For me personally, together with his venerable life - wherever he went he carried the Athonite Orthodox tradition - I am struck by the simplicity of the phrases of his theological preaching. As he himself said and as it appears from his homilies, he studied many patristic books. He says somewhere: "I read many things, and studied the depths of wisdom."

It would therefore be good, good and beneficial, for homilists about Saint Kosmas the Aitolos each time to take one spiritual theme from the sermons of the Saint and to present them to the people within his overall teaching. I therefore thought about, my Christians, what theme I wanted to present today and thereby develop you from the sermons of Saint Kosmas the Aitolos. And I found one! The theme was given me by today's day. Today is the Lord's Day and I desire therefore to speak with you about the Lord's Day according to the teachings of the Saint.

2. Saint Kosmas the Aitolos, my beloved Christians, spoke frequently about the Lord's Day, about its meaning, about its greatness, and he rebuked the bazaars of the Jews that they had on the Lord's Day to lure Christians away from church and attend them. This rebuke of the Jews to defend the Lord's Day is what brought about his death.

Speaking of the Lord's Day, the Saint gave many and beautiful meanings to this day. Somewhere the Saint had the expression that the Lord "made" the Lord's Day "and He kept it by His word". I am impressed, my Christians, by this "made" used by the Saint, because it is a biblical expression. It is that which is said in Holy Scripture: "This is the day the Lord has made" (Ps. 117:24). This day is called the "Lord's Day", because it belongs to the Lord our God. "And He kept it by His word", says Saint Kosmas the Aitolos. It is the "day one", as it says in the first chapter of Genesis, where it speaks of the creation: "And it was evening and it was morning, day one" (Gen. 1:5). This "day one" is the Lord's Day and on this day the cosmos was created. Yes, my Christians! It is for our illness that Holy Scripture says the cosmos was created in six days. In reality however creation took place in one day, which is why Genesis, after speaking of the creation of the cosmos in six days, says exactly this: "The day - one day - that the Lord God made heaven and earth" (Gen. 2:4).

Therefore on the Lord's Day, my Christians, the cosmos was created. But this cosmos was spoiled, because the poison of sin fell upon it with the fall of the First-Formed. Yet the love of God brought a recreation of the cosmos with the Annunciation by the Archangel Gabriel to our Panagia, that in her womb the Son of God would incarnate, Who will bring salvation to the world. Saint Kosmas the Aitolos would say in his sermons that the Annunciation to our Panagia also took place on the Lord's Day. Thus, as the Saint himself says, the creation of the cosmos took place on the Lord's Day and the recreation of the cosmos, with the Annunciation, also took place on the Lord's Day. Even the Birth of Christ took place on the Lord's Day. The Saint said: "Seek and you shall learn that on the Lord's Day the Annunciation to the Theotokos took place, and on the Lord's Day Christ was born and showed us the holy faith." Also on the Lord's Day, my Christians, as the holy Gospels tell us and as we celebrate in our Divine Worship, and as Saint Kosmas preached in his sermons, again, on the Lord's Day, the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ took place. And again it will be on the Lord's Day that the resurrection of the dead and the Second Coming of Christ will take place. Saint Kosmas would say: "On a future Lord's Day the Lord will resurrect the world."

3. From the above teaching of Saint Kosmas the Aitolos, which is the teaching of our Orthodox Church, we mean  to say, my Christians, that the Lord's Day has exalted greatness, it is a day of salvation, because the creation of the cosmos and all the events of our salvation that the Lord did for us took place on this day.

Since then the Lord's Day has so much importance, Saint Kosmas often spoke in his sermons about it, telling Christians to revere it and honor it. Preaching he said: "We must work six days for vain, earthly and false things, and on the Lord's Day we must go to church and take account of our sins, death, hell, paradise, and not eat a lot, drink a lot, and do sinful acts; nor should we work or make profit on the Lord's Day. The profit of the Lord's Day is excommunicated and cursed, and you thereby bring fire and a curse on your homes and not a blessing." Therefore, no work and no parties on the Lord's Day. Only one party takes place on the Lord's Day, the Divine Liturgy, which is an "Orthodox party", as the late Bishop Kallinikos of Edessa would say.

4. And now, what can we say, my Christians, about the repeal of no work on the Lord's Day, which our nation is preparing? We are not worried. Those who love Christ and are faithful and conscientious Christians, no matter what decrees are issued against them, they will continue to honor Sunday as the Lord's Day. They will honor it in the way Saint Kosmas said above. Yet those who do not have a fervent love for Christ and are unconscientious Christians have already despised the Lord's Day and have made it the most sinful day of the week. We are disciples of Saint Kosmas the Aitolos and we will honor the Lord's Day as a special day to worship the Lord.

Finally, my Christians, with the blessing of Saint Kosmas the Aitolos, for the rest of our lives let us prepare to enjoy the "nightless Lord's Day", that Lord's Day when there will no longer come a Monday. In the preaching of Saint Kosmas the Aitolos he would say, as we previously said, that the resurrection of the dead and the the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ will take place on the Lord's Day. But this Lord's Day will be "nightless", as I said above, for it will be an eternal Lord's Day in the heavenly Kingdom of God. Let us prepare for this Lord's Day. Let us prepare to have a good defense on the Day of Judgement, that the Lord may take us with Him into His sweet paradise that we may be saved from the horrible eternal hell. This good preparation for the enjoyment of the eternal Lord's Day we will achieve through our obedience to the teachings of Saint Kosmas the Aitolos, who we celebrate today, whose entire teaching is a simplified teaching of the Holy Fathers of our Church and the entire Orthodox tradition.

To honor our holy teacher Kosmas Aitolos and to learn well about him, all of you buy, I beg you, from a Christian bookstore the book of the late Metropolitan of Florina our Father Augoustinos about Saint Kosmas the Aitolos. As I remember from his sermons, this late struggling Hierarch loved Saint Kosmas the Aitolos very much, and he himself was truly a Saint Kosmas the Aitolos type of figure. May we have his blessing and prayers.

With many prayers,

† Metropolitan Jeremiah of Gortynos and Megalopoleos

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.