August 9, 2022

Homily Four for the Eighth Sunday of Matthew - The Blessing of Christ (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

Homily for the Eighth Sunday of Matthew

The Blessing of Christ

Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The miracle of the multiplication of the five loaves of bread, which Christ blessed and distributed, is well known, with the result that five thousand people were fed, not including the women and children. The Evangelist Matthew writes: "Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and blessed them" (Matthew 14:18). The result of God's blessing is the multiplication of loaves and fishes.

The blessing of Christ is His energy with which He benefits the world. During His Ascension, Christ ascended to heaven and blessed His Disciples present, as the Evangelist Luke writes: "Through His hands He blessed them, and when he had blessed him, he separated from them and was taken up to heaven" (Luk. 24:50-51). He left us His blessing, that is, His grace and energy, for this reason the Apostle Paul writes to the Christians of Ephesus: "Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Eph. 1:3).

This blessing is given to us in the Divine Liturgy by the officiating Clergy, when they say "peace be unto all" and bless with their hand. Then the Grace of Christ, which is Light, is transmitted to Christians. God allows some people to see this Light for a special purpose, as happened with the new martyr Ahmet the Kalphas. He was a Muslim and lived in Constantinople in the 17th century, and when he went to the Patriarchal Church he was found worthy to see a wonderful event, as described by Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite: "When the Patriarch was officiating - O the miracle! - when the Patriarch blesses the people, and they came out of the place of Judgment (from the Holy Bema where the throne is), from his fingers rays fell on all the heads of the Christians, and only his head was without it." This motivated him to be baptized a Christian, and when he was given the opportunity he confessed that the faith of Christians is great and he was martyred for Christ.

In all the Mysteries, the Cleric in the name of God also blesses the material objects, such as the water in Baptism, the bread and wine in the Eucharist and they change into the Body and Blood of Christ, the couple in the mystery of Marriage who are united in one flesh, and in the other Mysteries.

We see the blessing of the Priest and the Bishop as a movement of the hand and we hear a word, but the soul feels the Grace of Christ, and if there are possibilities and if God allows, some can also see the Light of God's Grace which is transmitted with the priestly and hierarchical blessing. We also feel this during the Mystery of Repentance and Holy Confession, when the soul is healed from the wounds of sin and rejoices spiritually.

The miracle of the multiplication of the five loaves and the two fish modeled the Mystery of the Eucharist, in which we feel the great gift of God. And this event is incomparably superior to the event that took place then with the multiplication of the five loaves, because the Divine Eucharist takes place in every place and time, it is celebrated in the whole world "at all times" (place and time) "and for all time", that is, for all the blessings that God gives us, and millions of people every Sunday and every day all over the world taste the one Body and Blood of Christ, and confess: "We have seen the true light". Also, the Eucharist is a part of the heavenly Eucharist that takes place in heaven, which is the partaking of God in the Light, when we are properly prepared.

Beyond the blessed state of the Divine Eucharist, the blessing of the five loaves is repeated every time the service of artoklasia is finished for the health of the people, who offer the five loaves and receive God's blessing.

The blessing of Christ is offered in the Church constantly, which illuminates the nous as light, warms the heart and strengthens our will, as long as we have spiritual senses to sense it.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.