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July 7, 2019

Homily on the Third Eothinon Gospel - Mark 16:9-20

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

This year's Sunday sermons, my beloved brethren, will refer to the Eothina Gospels, which are read during Matins on Sunday. Every Sunday morning, before the Divine Liturgy begins, during Matins (Orthros), there is a reading from a Gospel, which refers to the Resurrection of Christ. These Gospels are called Eothina, because they are read in the dawn of the morning (eothinon means "morning"), and also because they refer to the great event of the Resurrection of Christ, which is the orthros (dawn), or dawning of another life for mankind, since by His Resurrection Christ gave us another life, which is a prelude to the great day of the Kingdom of Heaven.

The Eothina Gospels are eleven in number and are sections from the four Gospels that present some incidents from the great event of the Resurrection of Christ. It is obvious, therefore, that in this year's sermons we will refer to the Resurrection of Christ, since every Sunday in the Orthodox Church we celebrate this event. But we will be very brief, and we will not analyze the entire Eothinon Gospel, which has been determined to be read on Sunday morning.

Today's Eothinon, which is the third, is a section from the Gospel of Mark (Mark 16:9-20) and refers to three appearances of the Risen Christ. The first was made to Mary Magdalene, from whom Christ had cast out seven demons. His second appearance was to two disciples, who went to their fields on the day of the Resurrection and He even appeared "in another form," that is, these disciples saw Christ with the glory of the Resurrection, not as they had previously known. And the third appearance was to eleven disciples while they ate.

The important thing from this Gospel is that it shows the disbelief of the disciples in the information that both Mary Magdalene and the two disciples who had previously seen Him were communicating to them. Christ, after all, when He appeared to the eleven, scolded them because they doubted His Resurrection, and on the other hand He gave them the command to go all over the world and declare the fact of the Resurrection. Together with the preaching of the Resurrection, the disciples should baptize them, because that is how salvation will be actualized. He told them beforehand, of course, that those who believe in the Resurrection will see many miracles in their lives, that they will expel demons by invoking His name, speak new languages, have authority over creation and poisonous snakes, and they would even heal the sick.

The fact is that the first distrust of the disciples was due to the fact that their faith was not satisfied by hearing. But when they personally saw the resurrection of Christ, then they acquired faith by theoria (vision) and, of course, with this belief, which is experience and life, they did miracles, and so they regenerated people and restored the whole world.

The power of the Resurrection is great. Nothing can compare with it. The only thing that we need is to go from faith by hearing to faith by theoria. Having the blessing to live in the Church of the Resurrection, which is the Orthodox Church, we must struggle to gain a personal experience of the great mystery of the Resurrection so that we may become children of the Resurrection.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.