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July 19, 2020

Homily One for the Epistle Reading on the Sunday of the Holy Fathers - Christian Behavior (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the Fourth Ecumenical Synod
By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

(Titus 3:8-15)

In his letter to Titus, the Apostle Paul, as we heard today in the Apostolic reading, among other things, urges him to advise Christians (clergy and laity) to behave properly in society. It does not speak of an outward behavior, but of the result of the salvation that took place with the incarnation of Christ and experienced in their lives.

In this context, the Apostle Paul gives assurances to Titus about the way Christians should treat their fellow human beings.

They should take the lead in good works that benefit people. Those who believe in God must show their faith through works of philanthropy. After all, philanthropy is closely linked to love for God.

Next, they should avoid vain discussions about the provisions of the Mosaic Law, because such discussions are useless and futile. The law of the Old Testament prepared the people for the coming of Christ, and, of course, with the coming of Christ these Mosaic provisions have been virtually abolished, but not all of God's commandments and the "spirit" of the law that still purifies the human heart to attain to see Christ.

Also, Christians should not quarrel with heretics, because even that does not benefit them. Of course, they should try to warn them a first and a second time, but then let them go, do not deal with them, because they have gone astray, they have deviated from the truth and they do not benefit. Heresy also perverts the ethos of man, and a perverted ethos distorts the Orthodox faith. Heretics in the way they live are self-judged and self-condemned.

Heretics are not the only problem for the Church, as to the acceptance or not of the dogmas, but also those who have a different ethos from the ecclesiastical ethos [way of living] and a different phronema from the ecclesiastical phronema [way of thinking].

Christians should live according to the will of God, keep His commandments, live in the Church, with the sacramental and ascetic life, so that their hearts may be filled with the love of God.

Silly and futile discussions are of no use, even those quarrels over divine truths. We must pay special attention to the way we act, even in matters of the confession of faith. Fanaticism, quarrels, shouting, categorical views, anger and rage do not benefit us or our interlocutors. On the contrary, the quiet confessional discourse, the peaceful confession of faith, brings beneficial results.

Today we need clergy and laity who will have the certainty of their faith and will confess it with boldness, love and inner peace. Above all, we need Christians who will speak for what they believe, and live according to what they preach. Otherwise they deny their Christian "identity", in essence their Christian life.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.