August 26, 2021

Homily Six on the Interpretation of the Doxology: "Our Refuge" (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 On the Interpretation of the Doxology:
Our Refuge

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

In our analysis of the verses of the Doxology, on a previous Sunday we analyzed what God's mercy means, and how man can taste His mercy and philanthropy. Today we will look at two other verses of the Doxology that refer to God, who is our refuge.

One verse is:

"Lord, you have been our refuge from generation to generation. I said: Lord, have mercy on me; heal my soul, for I have sinned against you."

Refuges are those places that protect people from the bombs dropped by planes during wartime. But because we are daily at war with the devil and sin, our only refuge and consolation is God and the remembrance of His Name. We know this because, as we read in Holy Scripture, God protected all our forefathers. We have evidence of this protection and love of God for mankind.

Then, in this verse, we pray that God will have mercy on us and heal our souls. Indeed, from the sins we commit our souls are wounded and sometimes fatally. Then no one can heal us except God. Medicines cure the body and the diseases of the body, but the soul can be healed only by God. We must understand this, because then we will live in a different way and we will find inner peace, tranquility, freedom, love.

Many external disorders, but also many physical ailments come from this internal disease. That is why the Fathers tell us that when we feel inner turmoil we should pray with the prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me." And when we cannot do that either, because our soul is sick and wounded, then we should say: "Lord Jesus Christ, heal my soul for I have sinned against you."

The other verse is:

"Lord, to you have I taken refuge; teach me to do your will, for you are my God."

It emphasizes here that God is not just an emotional refuge in difficult times of our lives, but a refuge when we do His will and are united with Him. Therefore, it is not an inactivity, an inactive rest in God, but a constant movement and energy. This is manifested in the fact that we manifest our desire to do in our life the will of God.

When we talk about God's will, we mean what God wants for us. And what God wants is for us to be sanctified. "This is the will of God, even your sanctification" (1 Thessalonians 4:3). By the will of God is meant His commandments, which express the desire of God for us. It seems, then, that there are two wills: the will of God that seeks our salvation, and our will with which we want to seek refuge in God. It is necessary for our salvation to coordinate the two wills, of God and our own. Because we have a dark mind, after sin, that is why we cannot know exactly the will of God and so we pray, since we recognize Him as God, for Him to teach us, to reveal to us His will and when we keep it we will gain knowledge of Him.

It is clear, then, what the sequence of concepts is. We turn to the One we consider our God, and ask Him to teach us His will, because we are ignorant of it. Then we have to apply it to be led to the Light.

We use many refuges in our lives to alleviate our inner pain and our various failures. Sometimes we resort to the satisfaction of the senses and passions, sometimes to ideologies, sometimes to the protection of strong and powerful people, etc. But we must understand that the strongest and safest refuge is God and prayer to God in His holy Name. Also, the best medicine for healing our sins is the Name of Christ.

Let's try them and we will find out.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.