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August 29, 2021

Homily Nine on the Great Litany of the Divine Liturgy - The Honorable Forerunner (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 Homily Nine on the Great Litany of the Divine Liturgy

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The Honorable Forerunner

At the end of the Great Litany, that is, of the "Litany of Peace", after we have mentioned the Panagia and all the Saints, the Priest urges us to dedicate our lives to the God-man Christ. We spoke about the Panagia in a previous sermon. Today we will dwell on the phrase "with all the Saints" and because of the feast of the Beheading of Saint John the Forerunner and Baptist, we will refer to him, who is among the Saints.

Saint John the Forerunner was given the name John, which is interpreted as the "grace of God", and it was given to him by God Himself. He is called the Forerunner, because he preceded Christ and prepared the way for His work. He is called Baptist, because he was found worthy to baptize Christ in the Jordan River. This is a great personality who was praised by Christ Himself, who said: "Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist" (Matt. 10:11).

What we observe in the Honorable Forerunner is that he is the last Prophet of the Old Testament and the first Prophet of the New Testament, that is, he was on the border between the Old and New Testaments. He is a wonderful link between the Prophets and the Apostles.

His preaching was no different from the preaching of the Prophets and Christ, since it was a message of repentance. He said, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 3:2). The Kingdom of Heaven is Divine Grace, the revelation of Christ as Light and the participation and communion of man with the Light. Repentance is a precondition for communion with God. This is the core of the Church's preaching, not various hollow words, not philosophies and reflections, but the indication of how to be united with God.

Also, what one admires in Saint John the Forerunner is that he was a preacher of the truth, he spoke about Christ who is the Truth and he led the people to the Truth. His message was not shallow, compromising, false. He rebuked the people who approached him as well as Herod, pointing out to them the right path, restoration from injustice, the alignment of their lives with the Law of God. Of course, this also had consequences for him, namely imprisonment and finally beheading, death. But the most important thing in our life is the right division of the truth.

With the preaching of repentance and truth, the Forerunner was glorified and went down in history, being honored by all Christians. An Athonite said that the false when it is united, in reality it is separated, while the true when it is separated is united. We see this in the lives of the Saints and of course in the life of the Honorable Forerunner. He was true, he was connected with the Truth, Christ, he spoke truthfully, and to this day he lives truly and really in the hearts of all Christians, despite the fact that he does not live biologically. How many Holy Temples were erected in his name! In fact, today all Christians fast strictly and thus honor the Honorable Forerunner.

We should be people of truth and not of falsehood, of simplicity and not of duplicity and hypocrisy. The Honorable Forerunner, after the Panagia, has great boldness before Christ and that is why we must invoke his intercessions and imitate his example.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.