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October 16, 2022

Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Luke - Ecclesiastical Teaching (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Luke

Ecclesiastical Teaching

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

"The seed is the word of God" (Luke 8:11).

Beloved brethren,

The interpretative teaching of the Parable of the Sower and the declaration that the seed is the word of God, is one of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, which the disciples of this heavenly Kingdom deserved and deserve to know. This is the great value of preaching in the space of the church. It is a revelation and interpretation of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, to those who seek it. It is a real sacred work, a transforming power. This basic teaching will be interpreted below.

At every eucharistic and worship gathering, the Gospel and Apostolic readings, chosen by the Church, are read and then followed by their interpretation.

Thus, the word of the Word has life, transforming power. When this word is analyzed in the Divine Liturgy by the saints, who were united with Christ the Word, it contributes to the spiritual fruitfulness of Christians, even if they too have the appropriate conditions. The sermon is an integral part of the Divine Liturgy and Worship and must be done in their atmosphere.

This is said because, unfortunately, many Christians consider the sermon as an extraneous element in the Divine Liturgy. And when the time for preaching comes, they resent it in various ways. Of course, it is very important what is said and by whom the sermon is said. We will see this below.

Here the truth must be emphasized that usually those who have learned to experience worship emotionally and do not want to hear a sermon, those who do not feel the Parish as a family, and the Church as the Body of Christ, those who feel the Divine Liturgy as a change of performances and as a Sunday leisure and they forget that in the Divine Liturgy we offer our whole life and then our whole life functions normally and naturally.

The value of the sermon has been understood by the Christians who lived the mystical life of the Church, those who do not consider it as an established institution, but as the Body of Christ and a society of deification. The Apostle Paul analyzes the power of the word of God. The word of God, as the energy of the Word, has power, that is why, as he writes, "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Heb. 4:12).

In the man who has been properly prepared, the word of God acts deeply, enters into his whole being and transforms him, nourishes him and enlivens him. The word of God, which comes from God Himself or from people who are united with Him, is life-giving, brings man to deep repentance and gives light to his existence.

In one of his sermons, Saint Gregory Palamas begs his listeners to gather and lift up their minds towards the light of the Gospel sermon in order to be transformed, and after receiving the divine glory, to be conformed to "the image of the glory of the Lord." According to the Holy Father himself, just as during the Lord's Transfiguration His face shone like the sun and His clothes became white like light (Matt. 17:2), so also the letter of the word, which is the garment of Christ, under which the divinity of Christ exists, is "white and clear, but also polished and brilliant and like pearls; moreover, godly and divinely-inspired to those who in spirit behold the Holy Spirit."

The comparison of the word of God with the seed expresses a deep meaning. Just as the seed does not show anything great on the outside, but on the inside it hides great powers that can, under certain conditions, be manifested, so also the divine word on the outside looks poor, weak in relation to other elaborate human words, but nevertheless hides such powers within itself, which, when no one sees them, they are surprised. Beneath the word of God there is the Grace of God that regenerates man. This is how it is explained that from a few phrases of the Gospel or from a few phrases of a sermon, souls are converted and believe in Christ. Therefore, when the word of God is offered clearly and when it is heard clearly, it regenerates people.

The sermon is not a human speech that is consumed in the development of beautiful ideas, in the promotion of amazing slogans or advertisements, in the presentation of philosophical concepts and reflections, but it is a divine speech that aims at the salvation of believers. When there are certain preconditions, namely sincerity, real searching, a cultivated field, then the seed of God bears fruit with amazing results. On the contrary, to those who think only of the present life, with the cares, the concerns, and the arrogance of wealth, the word of God remains fruitless. Here we see the theological concept of synergy. In other words, man must also cooperate in order for the sun of salvation to rise within him.

Many are moved by social work and ignore the preaching of the Church. They want the Church to stop being interested in preaching, and even in worship, and to get involved in social service. This, however, constitutes real ignorance. Because the Church with the divine teaching goes beyond social work and develops philanthropy.

The preaching of the divine word, when connected with the divine Eucharist and inspired by its atmosphere, is the greatest gift to man.

Let us accept the word of God in our pure hearts, so that it bears rich fruit.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.