June 27, 2021

Homily for the Sunday of All Saints (Elder Philotheos Zervakos)

By Elder Philotheos Zervakos

(Delivered in the Church of All Saints in Paros in 1965)

Today our Holy Church celebrates the memory of all the Saints, those who were born and sanctified from the creation of the world, and those who will be sanctified until the end of the ages. This feast is the greatest of all feasts (besides the Despotic ones), because not only one Saint celebrates, nor ten nor a hundred nor a thousand nor two thousand or a hundred thousand, but millions.

All the millions of Saints today celebrate, and on this feast is also the feast of the Queen of Heaven, the All-Holy Mother of God, all the Angelic Orders, all the Prophets, the Apostles, the Martyrs, the Hieromartyrs, the Confessors and all the Saints. And therefore every believer today celebrates their feast, because all faithful Christians have the names of Saints.

The Lord, always for the benefit of His creatures, dispensed His benefits and chose from the human race His Saints, whom He astonished by miracles and signs and made them, together with His Mother, mediators, protectors, guardians and shelters of the people, of Christians.

Great is this benefaction and philanthropy of God; that is, to elect from the world holy people, and together with all of these She who is higher than the heavens and the purest of the shining suns, who is higher than the Cherubim and incomparably more glorious than the Seraphim and all the Saints and Angels, His Mother, the Most Holy Theotokos. If it were not for the Mother of God to mediate, to supplicate, to entreat her Son, God, who is just, He would have eliminated all human beings. There would be no man on earth.

God as long-suffering and very merciful and very compassionate endures men, endures sins, endures their blasphemies, but because He is also just, and loves justice, justice compels Him to punish the ungodly, the unrighteous, the blasphemers, the sinners, the filthy, the corrupt, the thieves, the robbers, and every sinful man. And this is just in a God who is most just and most philanthropic, since for the human race He employed every way and means that could be used for their salvation.

After all the benefactions He did for man, He submitted, as God, to become man, to become incarnate from the holy blood of the Holy Virgin and Theotokos Mary. And through His crucifixion death and the shedding of His precious Blood He paid the debt of sinners. This guiltless, innocent, harmless one was punished. Why? For man the sinner, the criminal, the ignorant, the ungrateful. He suffered so many horrible sufferings and afflictions, to pay the debt of sinners, to free them from the eternal condemnation they had been condemned to for their transgression and disobedience, from the bonds of Hades and corruption, and to bring them back to Paradise, their first blessedness, their first happiness, their first glory and honor, which He initially gave them but did not keep.

Because people seemed ungrateful, God Himself complained and, as if there were no man to hear His complaint, He complained in heaven and on earth. "Listen," He said, "heaven, and incline your ear earth: I gave birth to sons and honored them, and they did not honor me." I made people, He says, my children, I exalted them, I honored them, I glorified them, I gave them all good things, and they not only did not listen to me, but they also dishonored me. They cursed me with the dirtiest and filthiest words.

The ox, he says, and the donkey and every beast know their master and are happy to serve him, for some food he gives them. For a piece of bread, which he gives to the dog, it recognizes its master and guards him, honors him, and often dies for its master. But man did not understand the honor and glory given to him by God and became worse. He became like the beasts and even worse.

Well, the benefits we have received from God are so great that when we sin, after so many benefits He has done us, justice forces Him, for our education, to punish people with various punishments, with wars, with earthquakes, with diseases, with hunger and other calamities, for the ingratitude of people, their lack of feeling and lack of conscience. But many times the Panagia, whom He chose from all men and honored for her purity, holiness and more for Her exalted humility, with her motherly extended prayers saves us from the just wrath of the Lord.

Because our Lady Theotokos was humble, that is why He chose her and was born of Her, in order to save the human race through her. The Lady Theotokos always covers and protects the human race, including sinners. And for them she also supplicates. And if it were not for our Lady Theotokos, we would have suffered what Sodom and Gomorrah suffered. He would burn us. He would cast down fire to burn us all. The Lady Theotokos holds back the wrath and indignation of God.

The Panagia and all the Saints hold back the wrath of God, restrain His anger, but until when? People, instead of repenting, become worse. Time to wake up, because the wrath of God has arrived. It is up to us, if we want, to be saved and it is up to us, if we want, to be lost. And the loss is not small, it is not little, because if the wrath of God comes and finds us unprepared, in sin, we will be condemned to eternal hell, from which we have no hope, never, to be redeemed.

Well, let us think well and as rational people to repent. A repentance like the Ninevites, like the repentance of the thief, like the repentance of the prodigal, like the repentance of the prostitute and other sinners, will save us from the great danger, the great wrath of God. That is why I beg you to repent, because the wrath of God has arrived. If we repent we will be saved, if we do not repent we will be lost. The mouth of the Lord said it.

I pray the grace of the all-good God, through the intercessions of His immaculate Mother and all the Saints, that they will entreat the Lord, to rest His wrath and anger, and to have mercy and compassion on us, as one who loves mankind and is merciful, and to find us worthy that we be saved by Him from every present danger and be found worthy of the eternal good things and the Kingdom of Heaven. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.