April 23, 2020

Homily on the Holy Great Martyr George (Archimandrite George Kapsanis)

Homily on the Holy Great Martyr George

By Archimandrite George Kapsanis,
Abbot of Gregoriou Monastery on Mount Athos


Saint George is par excellence a resurrected man of God and he sacrificed his entire well-educated life. And his martyrdom was a manifestation of the Cross and Resurrection of Christ, just as his whole life was a manifestation of the Cross and Resurrection of the Lord. This is why the Church has established, even when his memory coincides with Holy and Great Lent, to be moved to and always celebrated in the Paschal period. As some hymns say, we meet the memory of the Great Martyr with the Resurrection of the Lord. And along with the physical air, the spring of nature, the spiritual air has come, which is the Resurrection of Christ and the memory of the Great Martyr and Trophy Bearer Saint George.

Every saint - including Saint George - is a proof of the Resurrection of Christ. Because if Christ did not rise from the dead, the Holy Martyrs would not despise death. With the power of the Risen Christ, they despised not only death but also the unspeakable hells, those terrible tortures, which make us sick by just reading about or hearing them. But they endured them most steadfastly.

This is why Saint George, who par excellence exercised steadfastness, patience under torture for the love of Christ, for the divine eros that burned in his heart, is described by the hymns of our Church as "a noetic diamond of steadfastness" and as a brave "athlete" and "soldier" of our Christ. This is why today we celebrate Saint George, the Saint George of the Resurrection, within the Resurrection joy of this great and bright day, the Celebration of Celebrations and Queen of Feasts, the Holy Pascha of our Faith. And we have Saint George as the leader of our celebration and joy.

We thank him, because by his love for Christ, with his desire for Christ, with his devotion to Christ, with his divine eros towards Christ, he became a guide towards the love of our Christ.

I think, my Christian fathers and brethren, that every time we celebrate the Martyrs, and today the Great Martyr George, a deep gratitude must take hold of our souls for what the Martyrs have offered us. And there should be a supplication to Christ with the intercessions of the Saint: "Lord, grant us Your Grace, through the intercessions of the Holy Great Martyr George, to love You just as Saint George loved You, just as the Saints loved You."

For indeed, I think that if we examine our whole lives, we will see that, in addition to our small or great sins, what we are missing most is a living love for our Christ, an eros for our Christ; which is what characterizes all the saints. Because the common feature of all saints is this divine eros. This divine desire burned in their breasts and did not let them rest until they were offered as a sacrifice, as sacred holocausts to the beloved Lord.

And for this reason, the martyrdoms and tortures and hellishness and the myriad of horrible deaths not only did not frighten them but they also sought them out, to fulfill and express with them their love for the Savior Christ, their eros towards the Bridegroom of their souls. And when the martyrdom did not come, they were saddened, because they could not express their love for Christ with as much perfection as martyrdom gives the opportunity to do so.

What can we say, we who are so far from loving Christ as the Holy Martyrs and Saint George loved Him? Therefore, let us all pray that the intercessions of Saint George the Great Martyr to the Lord be: To grant us the desire for Christ, the love for Christ, the eros for Christ.

You remember where he says during his martyrdom that when, among other things, he was tortured by wearing red-hot iron shoes, which had nails inside them, and he was ordered to run , Saint George happily ran and said: “Run, George, to reach the desired Lord!"

Let's do it for ourselves. "Run, (Nicholas, Basil, Demetrios - everyone has a name) to reach the desired Lord." What a wonderful thing for our whole life to be like a run, a desire, an ascent to go up to the desired Lord!

May the Lord truly desire us. And let our whole life be not just a path to the Lord, but a run, a living nostalgia and our ascent with much desire for Christ.

Source: Αρχιμανδρίτου Γεωργίου, Ομιλίες σε Εορτές Αγίων (των ετών 1981-1991) Β’. Έκδ. Ι.Μ. Οσίου Γρηγορίου, Άγιον Όρος 2016, σελ. 180. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.