February 18, 2022

Homilies on the Divine Liturgy - The Readings (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

  Homilies on the Divine Liturgy

The Readings

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou
After the Small Entrance, during the Divine Liturgy, the Trisagion Hymn and the two readings are read, namely the Apostolic and the Gospel readings. The Apostle is read by the Reader, who has the special blessing from the Bishop to do this work, because in the Church everything is done in the appropriate and blessed way, and the Gospel reading is read by the Deacon from a special place, which is called the Pulpit, or by the Priest from the Beautiful Gate.

First, we need to make a comment on the term "readings". The word "reading" means something that is read, and not chanted. Chanting is one thing while reading is another. Some pieces are chanted and others are recited, that is, read. But even this reading cannot be done in a secular way, that is, to read as one recites a poem and to put ones own emotional world into it. In the Divine Liturgy we do not try to present our own feelings. That is why the reading of the Apostolic and Gospel readings is described as a "melodic reading". It is reading without being chanted, but it is melodic, that is, it is said in a way that resembles chanting. This means that we use a way of chanting, which moves on a specific note with minimal changes, so that there is neither reading nor chanting. That is why the Priest after the Apostolic reading says "peace to you the reader" and not "peace to you the chanter".

The Apostolic reading refers to the Acts of the Apostles during the period of the Pentecostarion, and throughout the rest of the year to the Epistles of the Apostles which they sent to various Churches. The Apostles are the ones who received the command from Christ to preach the gospel throughout creation. They themselves reached theosis and then their words describe this blessed state, but also the method they used. They were not some good people, some theologians who graduated from a University, but real theologians of the Church, who attained deification and sanctification. The apostolic texts are theological and not merely moral.

The Gospel reading is the word of Christ, it refers either to a miracle that Christ did, or to a parable that Christ said, or to a teaching that Christ said. They also describe what Christ suffered. When one reads carefully the words of Christ and has purified senses, then one can perceive the energy that comes from His words. Because the words of Christ are not just anthropocentric words, but they are words of life and salvation, they are the energy of God. That is why even before the Gospel, the priest reads a special prayer, through which he asks God to send His Grace and energy so that we can understand the evangelical words and then, of course, to give us the fear that after we trample on our carnal desires we will live the spiritual state.

The reading of the Apostolic and especially the Gospel passages must be done in order that they should change our lives, to prepare us for the participation in the great gifts. Because the word of God purifies our hearts to receive greater gifts, to be united with Christ.

And of course, we must say that the analysis of the words of Christ and the Apostles must be done through the spirit of the Church, as expressed by the Holy Fathers of the Church. Because it is a great sin when with the sermon the Clergyman alters this spiritual word and instead of raising the Christians to the level of theology, he lowers them to the level of his own passions.

Let us study Holy Scripture, let us listen carefully to the Apostolic and Gospel readings in order to be found worthy of communion with Christ.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.