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Sunday, August 2, 2020

Homily for the Epistle Reading on the Eighth Sunday After Pentecost (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)


Homily for the Epistle Reading of the 
8th Sunday after Pentecost 
(1 Corinthians 1:10-17)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

The Church of Corinth, founded by the Apostle Paul, was a blessed Church, as can be seen from the two epistles that the Apostle Paul sent to it, in which the gifts of the Holy Spirit were rich and evident. Among the gifts were prophecy, wisdom, knowledge, the discernment of spirits, the gifts of healing, of powers, of tongues. Through the gifted and the gifts, the Holy Spirit, who was rich in the Church, the blessed Body of Christ, was manifested in various ways. It was a real "theological school of the early Church".

At the same time, all these gifted people gathered to perform the Mystery of the divine Eucharist, to glorify the Crucified and Risen Christ, to confess their faith in Him, to thank Him for the gift that made them victorious over the devil, sin and death, and to partake of His Body and Blood. However, during their gatherings, due to the various gifts that the members of the Church had, there was some disorder regarding which was the greatest gift. That is why the Apostle Paul is forced in an epistle he sent to them, to put in order how the gifts should be manifested. Just as in the Church today we have the typikon that determines how to perform the services, what troparia to sing and how to alternate the chanters in the chanting, so in the early Church of Corinth the Apostle Paul established a typikon for the order which the gifted should observe at their gatherings.

Reading the first epistle sent by the Apostle Paul to the Church of Corinth, we see clearly the energy of the Holy Spirit, the existence of many gifted people during the performance of the divine Eucharist. The Church gathered to perform the divine Eucharist, and it was attended by Christians with a variety of gifts, namely theology, prophecy, healing, tongues, interpretation of tongues, etc.

However, in this early Church there were also schisms, not in the current sense of the word that they distanced themselves from the Church and formed other Churches, but in the sense that each group of Christians overemphasize a different Apostle. Thus, some considered Paul as their leader, others Peter, others Apollo, there were others who said that they belonged to Christ. The Apostle Paul rebukes them for this conduct and asks them all to say the same thing in the name of Jesus Christ, that there should be no divisions among them and that they should all be united "in the same mind and the same judgment."

It becomes obvious that, despite the performance of the divine Eucharist and the presence of gifted Christians in it, there was a need for a unity between them. With the passage of time and the development of the Church, the institution of the Bishops was created, to which all the gifted Christians had to obey, with the commemoration of which the Mystery of the divine Eucharist will be performed, the Church will be gathered and he will be "in the type and place” of the head of the Church, that is, of Christ, and furthermore that there should be unity among the Bishops.

It is important at this point what the book titled "Constitutions of the Apostles" says. It seems that as the Church grew and spread throughout the world, so much more was needed a visible unity and a center of unity. This center of unity was the Bishop and not the prophet.

In this book, after all the gifted Christians are mentioned, it is then said: "The highest of them all is the high priest, that is, the bishop." He is a servant of the word, guardian of knowledge, mediator between God and Christians during the worship of God, he is a teacher of piety, he is the father of Christians after God, he is the ruler and leader of the Christians, king and authority, he is the "earthly god after God", whom they must honor. The Bishop must preside over all Christians "with the honor worthy of a god", he must rule the clergy and be the head of all the people. In fact, the book of the "Constitutions of the Apostles" goes so far as to write that the Bishop is the head and that is why it is not right to be attentive to the tail, that is, the lay people that rebel and thus allow himself to be led and thus lost, but be attentive to "God alone." Because the Bishop must be the authority of all the subjects and not be ruled and guided by them. Of course, the Bishop must also have the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

It is clear that the Church is the blessed Body of Christ, Christians must be full of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, that is, have the gifts of theology, prayer, love, etc., to gather in the divine Eucharist and worship, and to consider their Bishop as their head who is "in the type and place" of Christ. The unity of the Church and of Christians is formed by the Mystery of the divine Eucharist and the Bishop. This is the ecclesiastical ethos and the ecclesiastical phronema, and outside of this there are schisms which lead to being lost.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.



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