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August 7, 2022

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

 Eighth Sunday After Pentecost

Homily on 1 Corinthians 1:10-17

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The early Church, despite its rich gifts of the Holy Spirit, was troubled by various problems. Among these problems were divisions and schisms among Christians. The Apostle Paul refers to this fact in the reading we read today.

The Christians of Corinth were divided into groups and factions. Some claimed to belong to Paul, others to Apollos, others to the Apostle Peter and there was also a portion of some people who said they belonged to Christ, as if the previous ones did not belong to Christ and were not His disciples. The Apostle Paul rebukes this mentality of divisions and schisms, and he emphasizes to them that they must be trained in the same mind and the same opinion and stand immovable in their unity with Christ, since He was crucified and rose again for men. But Christians were also baptized in the name of Christ and not in the name of the Apostles. The Apostles are Disciples and Apostles of Christ (1 Cor. 1:10-17).

And in other apostolic texts it is said that the Church is the Body of Christ, that in the Church there are many members, who, however, have special gifts and responsibilities, but all the members live together in the Body of Christ. There are amazing passages from the texts of the holy Fathers, in which it seems that Christians must cultivate this unity, because schisms and divisions are a sign of the passions of selfishness, pride, and that those who circumvent the unity of the Church commit the greater evil to the Church. In this work they are motivated by the devil, who divides people.

Precisely because various such divisions and schisms prevailed throughout the centuries, that is why the holy Fathers, illumined by the Holy Spirit, which constitutes the institution of the Church, effectively organized the Church. In the first apostolic period there was little excuse for conflict on this point, precisely because the Church had not yet been organized administratively. But today there is no excuse, because there is an organization of ecclesiastical life and in fact this organization is done in a theological and ecclesiastical way. No one can be autonomous within the Church. The laity refer to the Clergy, and the Clergy of a Metropolis to the Bishop, whom the Holy Spirit ordains through the Hierarchy, the Bishops to their Synod or to the Patriarchs, the Patriarchs to the Orthodox Synods. When one wishes to cease this reference, not only by ceasing to mention the name of his immediate superior, but also by not having substantial communion and unity with him, then in reality he is autonomous and independent.

There are some who justify their autonomy by obeying Christ. But this is a Protestant mentality, because Christ sends the Bishops. Bishops are in the type and place of Christ's presence and Christians owe obedience to them. And of course, if the Bishops do not abide by the decisions of the Synods, then the Synods undertake to restore things. However, beloved brethren, let us take care not to create schisms in the Church and not to belong to divisions, because as Saint John Chrysostom says, schism is not healed even by the blood of martyrdom.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.