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October 9, 2022

Homily for the Third Sunday of Luke - Orthodox Training (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 Homily for the Third Sunday of Luke
Orthodox Training

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Then He came and touched the body, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother" (Luke 7:14-16).

Beloved brethren,

Christ, with the power of His divinity, resurrected the dead youth and then gave him to his mother (Luke 7:11-17). This miracle, like all the miracles of Christ, show His work which is the abolition of death and the revival of dead mankind.

This is also the work of the Church, since the holiness of Christ is transferred to the Church, which is His Body. Thus, the Church aims to abolish death, to resurrect man. This is called education and training. For this reason, Orthodox education-training for everyone and especially for young people has a resurrected character and cannot be understood outside the Church, outside the Divine Liturgy and outside the Christian Community.

Orthodox training is not human, which means that it does not have man at its center, but it is God-human, which means that it has the God-man Christ as its center, and through Him it seeks the solution of all problems. The purpose of God-human education-training is identified with the purpose of the Church, which is the continuous transformation of man and creation.

Orthodox training has as its main concern the deification of man. Consequently, her interest turns to the heart and not to dry reason. He does not seek the increase of encyclopedic knowledge, but prefers David's prayer "create in me a clean heart O God" and live the beatitudes of Christ "blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God" (Matthew 6:8). He first cares for the purification of the heart from the corrupting energies of the passions, then follows the illumination of the nous, which, being illuminated, "sees" the glory of God.

His main virtues are humility and love. The saints, who are lovers and practitioners of this education, are humble and love the whole world, sacrificing themselves daily, while the possessors of human education are possessed by the selfishness of the knowledge of worldly wisdom, which creates many problems.

Also, the purpose of God-human training is not to make man good, but to lead him to the truly Good, that is, Christ and thus become God according to Grace. It does not start from the mentality that man has within him some good elements that must be exploited, but from the truth that, having moved away from God, living in a transitory state, he is dominated by the tyranny of the devil, living an unnatural life, the "meaningless non-existence". Therefore, he seeks the revival of the dead from human sin, his liberation from the tyranny of the devil and his union with God. Thus, Orthodox training is not understood independently of the Church, it cannot develop outside of its redemptive space.

This continuous transformation of man, which is the main purpose of education and the Church, is done through the holy mysteries and especially through the divine Eucharist, which is the center of spiritual life, the center of all mysteries.

This means that Orthodox training is not some dry teaching of even Orthodox knowledge, nor the teaching of a good "moral" life, nor the reference to a good social revolution and good manners of behavior, but aims at the deification of man, for man to "suffer" the divine, to live the Mystery of the Church.

With this I want to emphasize the truth that the Church's education towards young people should not only aim to create good friendships or to protect them from the "worldly spirit", but to lead them from being in the image of God to being in the likeness of God, which is done through asceticism and the sacramental life.

Thus, with Orthodox training, the atmosphere of the Holy Church is deeply engraved in the soul of the young person. The worship life and above all the eucharistic life enters into his soul and notices all its actions. The young person, who receives the Orthodox training, is leavened by the pulpit, the Holy Altar, the ministry in the Church, the iconography, etc. He feels the Bishop and his Parish Priest as his father.

This means that Orthodox training cannot be understood independently of the liturgical and eucharistic space, it cannot be understood outside of the sacramental spirit of the Church, which is the continuous repentance for partaking of the divine life. The Divine Eucharist and the way of life in the Holy Church are not some Sunday "occasions", as an appendix to the entire work week, but the real space of Orthodox training. Meeting places, like offices, should be understood as secondary auxiliary spaces, which are closely connected with the Holy Temple, are inspired by it and lead to it.

Orthodox training is not understood outside the ecclesiastical-worshipping community either. The Church is a family and the young person must live this family life and accept together the teaching and spiritual nourishment offered by the Church. The spirit of the community, of the family, must be experienced and developed, because it is the only thing that offers warmth and comfort to the young and leaves no scope for seeking this climate in other anthropocentric and dangerous communities.

In the Divine Liturgy, the young person learns his spiritual family, to which his grandfather, his father, his younger siblings and infants belong, all people of every age and social level belong, even all the Orthodox, who live in different nations, belong and where you will meet them in the Temple.

Orthodox training must help the young to seek and find life, God, teaching, within the church community, within the Body of Christ.

The issue has many dimensions. I emphasized only a few aspects and even epigrammatically. However, just as Christ resurrected the young man and gave him to his mother, so also Orthodox training, with the Grace of Christ, resurrects the young from sin and offers them to their Mother, the Church, to live within her maternal love.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.