August 8, 2021

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

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Homily on Romans 15:4 

" patience and by the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."

Man is distinguished for his ability to change, because easily, after the fall, his whole psychosomatic organism changes. As the body can change from cold to warm, so it becomes in the soul and mind of man. Sometimes man is happy and sometimes sad, sometimes he is filled with optimism and sometimes he is possessed by hopelessness and despair. Faith in God and His providence, love for Him and the hope of being united with Him balance man and make him face all the difficult problems of his life.

In our time there are many things - social, national and family - that make man despair, especially when his faith in God is inactive. In such a case we can gain the hope, patience, and encouragement of the Scriptures.

The Scriptures are the books of the Old and New Testaments, what is called the Bible. By the time the Apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Christians of Rome, the New Testament had not yet been compiled, that is, the twenty-seven books that make up the New Testament had not been compiled, and therefore the Apostle meant the Old Testament.

Thus, when we read the Scriptures, we dispel despair, gain hope and faith in God through patience and encouragement. That is, by reading the texts of the Prophets and the Apostles, but also later patristic books, one gets courage and hope.

This is generally done by reading books, because through books one studies the life and views of other people, understands the way they act, think and behave, and often changes the way one thinks. This is much more so with Holy Scripture for two main reasons. First, because we read the lives of holy people, we see their faith in God, such as the Patriarchs and Prophets of the Old Testament, the patience of Job, the zeal of the Apostles and Saints, the prayer of the righteous, etc., and we are strengthened in faith and in our patience. Secondly, because through these texts the Grace of God is energized, they are texts that have a special energy and change our mental state.

The Apostle Paul counseled his disciple Timothy: "Until I come, take heed to reading, to supplication, to the teaching" (1 Tim. 4:13). Saint John Chrysostom says that Holy Scripture is a spiritual meadow and its reading is a paradise of delights, better than the ancient paradise in which Adam and Eve were before the fall. In another discourse he says that whoever sits next to the spring of Holy Scripture is like one who sits next to a spring of water and enjoys the atmosphere, so not only does it satisfy the feeling of thirst, but it also repels the heat. Thus, anyone who pays attention to the reading of the Scriptures is freed from despondency. In him is planted pleasure, the evil is removed, the virtue is rooted, it is not shaken by the noise of things. Saint Ephraim the Syrian likens the one who drinks from the quality found in Holy Scripture to the infant who breastfeeds from his mother's breast.

In our time there are many books, newspapers, magazines, as well as the electronic press is present in all homes, and modern man can find what he is looking for to acquire human knowledge. But most books convey the passionate thoughts of their authors and their fantasies.

We Christians should study Holy Scripture, read the lives and teachings of the Prophets and the righteous of the Old Testament, but also the life and teachings of Christ and the Apostles. We should also read the synaxaria of the Saints, where the illustrated Gospel can be found. Thus, we can find hope through the patience and encouragement of the Scriptures.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.