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August 1, 2021

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

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Homily on Romans 12:9 

"Love Without Hypocrisy"

The Apostle Paul speaks of the spiritual gifts in today's apostolic reading, which are various and varied. God gives gifts to the members of the Church, so that the Church may be built up and God may be glorified. It is about prophecy, ministry, teaching, supplication, the transmission of material goods, the care for every good deed, almsgiving.

After listing the gifts, there is talk of love without hypocrisy which is the foundation of all spiritual gifts. In fact, in another one of his epistles to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul records the hymn of love, which is the greatest spiritual gift (1 Cor. 13).

Love has two directions, namely love for God and love for people. The commandment of God given in the Old Testament and repeated by Christ is well known: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. The second is like it, love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 12:37-39). Here it is clear that love is not a simple emotion, but is expressed with all the powers of the soul, that is, the rational, the appetitive and the incensive. They are not words, but a whole life and offering of all of ourselves to God and our brethren.

If we look at love from God's side, we can note that love is God's energy, so God does not just have love, but is love, since God's energy is the movement of His nature. God loves the world that He has created, moves towards man, but also attracts to Himself those who are worthy of His love, in whom love acts as purifying, illuminating and divinizing.

True love is the fruit of dispassion. When there are passions in man, then love is passionate. For example, ambition, lust, avarice have elements of love, but are associated with empty glory, pleasure and money. In these cases man cannot truly love God and his fellow man, because the passions are involved, so he loves himself, which is called self-love.

For there to be true love, it must be preceded by the person being healed. In fact, healing is the transformation of love from being selfish to selfless. Where there is selfish love, there is sickness. On the contrary, where selfless love is expressed, there is spiritual health.

The Apostle Paul knows that the spiritually sick can also love, and that is why he says that love must be without hypocrisy. Thus, hypocritical love is one thing and unhypocritical love is another. Hypocritical love is full of lies, theatricals, it is external, sophisticated, it is expressed with fake smiles and temporary manifestations and it usually spreads despair and hopelessness. Love without hypocrisy is true, complete, healthy and conveys joy, peace and hope to people.

Experience has shown that in our society, false, hypocritical love abounds. No other virtue has been abused as much as love. The actor has the talent to pretend the behaviors and characters of other people accurately and makes a special impression. What in this case is a gift, in the matter of hypocritical love it is misery. How terrible it is to meet people who show either passionate love or hypocritical love! And how amazing it is to have friends who are distinguished for their honesty and unhypocritical love!

Saint Isaac the Syrian writes that Abba Agathon wanted to find a leper and take his sick body, giving him his own healthy body. And he says that this is perfect love. He writes that true love for God is sweeter than life. When one lives in a climate of unhypocritical and selfless love, one feels sweetness superior to biological life.

We all love something, but let us make sure we are healed and have unhypocritical, pure and selfless love.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.