Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Homily for the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul (Archimandrite George Kapsanis)


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

(Delivered in 1988)

We thank the Holy God who found us worthy to celebrate today the memory of the holy, glorious and all-praised foremost Apostles Peter and Paul, the two great pillars of the Church of God.

The more one approaches in the Church these holy Apostles of Christ, two most bright figures, the more one is in awe and wonder. Their work as human beings is inexplicable. Only a great love for God and for the incarnate Christ justifies their sacrifices and hardships and the sufferings they gladly suffered, and finally the death they faced.

What helped them to reach these measures and to be not only pillars of the Church of Christ and its foundation and base, but also to be pillars of light to Heaven, which always illuminate the firmament of the Church and of humanity, is their Christ-centeredness, their union most closely and inseparably with Christ. This was what made them stand out.

They came to know Christ in different ways. Peter as a direct Disciple, Paul from the vision going to Damascus. But both did not fail to give themselves completely to Christ and not to live at all for themselves but only for Christ. And this Christ-centered life with their Christ-centered teaching became both an apostolic act and an apostolic discourse. They had Christ, they lived for Christ, and they were entirely Christified. That is why they could not but proclaim Christ to the nations, to preach, to testify, to reveal, to manifest.

Remember when the apostle Peter went up to the Temple of Solomon shortly after the Ascension of the Lord, after Pentecost. A paralyzed man asked for help and Saint Peter said to him: “I do not have gold and silver. What I have, this I give you. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6). This is what they had and this is what they gave. This they had and this they radiated, Jesus Christ.

And one, Peter, became a rock and a foundation of faith in Christ. The other became the mouth of Christ. But both became Christ, one the rock of faith and the other the mouth of Christ. That is why the Church honors them the way she honors them, and that is why the Church always has them in her midst, leaders of her gatherings and blessing her people.

We today thank the Apostles of Christ for their bonds and sorrows, shipwrecks and dangers. Their whole life was a danger. And "in the wilderness and in the city" (Heb. 11:38) they were under constant danger and constant suffering.

All of this we, their spiritual children, we, their disciples, recognize and thank and glorify. But we also ask them to help us who are so weak to connect with Christ, as they did. And may Christ be everything to us. Christ in our minds, Christ in our hearts, Christ in our will, Christ the guide in our lives, Christ the light of our eyes, Christ the power of our lives, Christ the end and purpose of our lives. And if we govern ourselves in this way, then we are their true disciples.

After all, this is the meaning of our prayer, of "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me the sinner." It is a very effective way to reach, with patience and humility, through struggle, this Christ-centered life and this Christ-centered testimony of the holy Apostles.

What the holy Apostles lived and preached and what they were crucified and sacrificed for was what we strive for with the "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me the sinner." And any Monk who fights well in this struggle and through the blessed prayer and the whole ecclesial life unites with Jesus Christ, has reached the measure and arrived at the purpose of life and the spirit and the content of the life of the apostles Peter and Paul.

Let us, therefore, brethren, be given the example today and be motivated and inspired by the holy Apostles, Peter the Great and Paul the Great, the mouths and foundations of Christ and the Church, and let us be sure that, like them, the struggle was not in vain, "to no purpose" (Phil. 2:16), according to Paul, nor "running aimlessly" (1 Cor. 9:26), but "for the purpose and for the reward of the higher calling" (Phil. 3:14), and so is our humble struggle.

As much as it seems humanly speaking that our struggle has no result or has no justification and recognition, the rewarder of the contest Christ God will definitely strengthen and perfect every fighter for piety, every fighter for prayer, and will find them worthy to be able let him say - if one fights well - what the divine Paul also said: "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day, and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Tim. 4:7-8). And we love the manifestation of Christ and we want to be found worthy of both a good fight and a good end to our fight.

May the Grace of God strengthen us and make us press on like the divine Apostles under that other Power, the Holy Spirit, to become worthy imitators of their struggle and toil.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.
 
 
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