August 9, 2020

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

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

(Homily on 1 Corinthians 3:9-17)

The content, beloved brethren, of today's apostolic reading, is a continuation of the content of the apostolic reading which was read in the church last Sunday. There was talk of schisms and divisions in the Church, and in today's apostolic reading, on the one hand, there is talk of the manner of the spiritual work of pastors, and on the other hand, the consequences of bad spiritual work.

First of all, the Apostle Paul uses two images for the Church, namely the farmer and the builder. He speaks more of the image of the builder. Just as an edifice has a foundation on which it rests, so the edifice of the Church has Christ as its foundation. No one can lay another foundation stone other than Christ. Just as the edifice is made by various craftsmen, so the Apostles are craftsmen who build. And, of course, everyone must be careful "how they build". The materials used to build are different, such as gold, silver, precious stones, wood, grass, hay, and of course everyone's work will be seen on the day of the Second Coming of Christ, so "each man's work will become manifest”. The way one builds will have a consequence on one's own salvation. If the building endures, then he will receive a salary, otherwise he will be punished (1 Cor. 3:9-16).

The image of the Temple must be included in this image of the building. Of course this has a personal interpretation, but at the same time it is ecclesiological. The Temple of God is the Church, as the Body of Christ, and within the Church, to which the faithful Christians belong, dwells the Spirit of God. Therefore, "if any one destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and that temple you are" (1 Cor. 3:16-17). He who contributes to the destruction of the Temple of God, which is the Church, will receive punishment from God, God will destroy him.

It seems clear, then, that the cornerstone of the Church is Christ Himself, and all that He has revealed to us. One cannot establish Churches on other anthropocentric foundations. Philosophy, human reason has nothing to do with the foundation of the Church which is Christ. It also seems that Christians must be united in this divine construction. As in a building there is unity, so it must happen in the Church. But this unity is connected on the one hand with the foundation, and on the other hand with the materials and the way of construction. That is, the Holy Fathers of the Church have regulated all that must apply in the Church. They have defined the Orthodox faith, they have defined the responsibilities and duties of each member of the Church. We see all this in the decisions of the Local and Ecumenical Synods. And whoever turns away from this teaching and life will destroy himself and will give a fearsome defense before the judgment seat of Christ.

The actions and methods that are foreign to the ethos of the Church, as delineated by the Holy Fathers, may impress people, they may seem successful and modern, but because they do not save and are not coordinated with the ethos of Orthodox revelatory truth, they will eventually be demolished, and will also harm their manufacturers. The Tower of Babel is a prime example of this mentality.

That is why we need to be very careful, to stand on the foundation called Christ, to live in unity with the other members of the Church and to build with materials that have been tested through the centuries with the experience of the saints.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.