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August 16, 2020

Homily for the Tenth Sunday of Matthew - Joy and Pain (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

Joy and Pain

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos

(Tenth Sunday of Matthew - 17:14-23)

The miracle of the healing of the lunatic young man we heard today, happened after the descent of Christ from Mount Tabor, where He was transfigured and showed the glory of His Deity to the three Disciples who attended this miraculous event. This shows the special importance of the event which we will see with the small commentary that will follow.

On Mount Tabor the Disciples were found worthy to see the glory of the deity of Christ, heard the voice of the Father and saw the bright cloud that overshadowed them. It is the glory of the Holy Trinity, and it was the revelation of the Kingdom of God. Because for us Orthodox the Kingdom of God is not a created reality, but the vision and the sharing of the glory of God. At the same time, the Disciples saw the two Old Testament Prophets, Moses and Elijah, conversing with Christ. They rejoiced so much that at one point the Apostle Peter expressed the desire to remain there permanently, and to set up three tents, for Christ and the two Prophets, and for them to remain there to keep seeing His glory. This image, but also the desire of the Disciples, shows what Paradise will be, how those who are found worthy to enter Paradise will live. It is an ongoing Divine Liturgy, a constant vision of the glory of the Triune God.

The Disciples, after this empirical experience of the Kingdom of God, descended from Mount Tabor and were faced with a terrible situation. They meet a demon-possessed young man being tormented by the devil, a father suffering and tortured and asking for help and support, a generation that is unfaithful and perverted, and His Disciples wondering why they did not have the power to free this young man from the demon.

These two images are opposite to each other. In the first one sees the joy and peace of the Kingdom of God and in the other one sees the tragic state of human life with its problems and sufferings and in general the state of Hell. This also shows the history of mankind. Man, from Paradise in which he lived immediately after his creation, where he enjoyed the glory of God, was forced to live in the valley of mourning and suffering, with diseases, demonic temptations, deprivations, deaths and various problems that create pain and suffering. Only through the vision of the Taboric glory can we understand the tragic situation in which we found ourselves after our fall and our distancing from the God of Light and glory. This also shows how we hope and believe that our body will be transformed and become like the body of the transfigured Christ.

But we feel this in every Divine Liturgy as well. When we prepare properly before the Divine Liturgy and when we pray with a focused mind during the Divine Liturgy, we feel peace in our heart, peace in our thoughts, rest and consolation in our whole existence. Then the heart feels the presence of God, but we also love our fellow human beings with whom we pray and commune from the same Body and Blood of Christ. But when the Divine Liturgy is over and we go to our homes and face the problems that exist from diseases, contempt and loneliness, from our passions, then we miss even more the atmosphere of the Divine Liturgy and we want to go to church again.

The hours of Tabor's experience and the hours of experience of various difficulties alternate in our lives. May Mount Tabor, the Kingdom of God, the "spirit" of the Divine Liturgy always inspire and guide our lives.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.