His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros
Homily for the Sunday of the Samaritan Woman
May 22, 2022
Saint George Tropeoforos Greek Orthodox Church
New York, New York
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Χριστὸς Ἀνέστη! [and in response: Ἀληθῶς Ἀνέστη!]
Christ is Risen! [and in response: Truly He is Risen!]
What a joy it is for me to return this precious jewel of Midtown, Saint George Tropeoforos! Especially during the season of Pascha! And I am all the more glad to be with you so that I can – in an official way – preside over the installation of your new Proïstamenos, Hieromonk Sophronios.
The Tropeoforos Parish remains the only Orthodox Christian Church in Midtown Manhattan – of any Orthodox tradition. Therefore, you are the home of any and all who call this section of the island their home. The fact that what is called, “Hell’s Kitchen,” is very much the old Greektown of New York, only adds to the importance of this Parish. But I would rather call this “Heaven’s Kitchen,” because you are a strong community of Faith and Ministry. Your Parish is a spiritual and serene presence in this most lively of Manhattan neighborhoods. With Times Square just around the corner, and the vibrant Ninth Avenue corridor, you are in a unique position.
And now, you have an outstanding clergyman to serve your needs, Father Sophronios. Do not let his youth deceive you. He is a devoted priest and devout monastic. He is here to be your spiritual father, and to stand in the long line of exemplary clergyman who have cared for this precious parish. I know that you have welcomed him as your very own, and that he is very happy here with you.
Everyone knows that Ἅγιος Γεώργιος ὁ Τροπαιοφόρος is a marvelous jewel-box of a Church that has stood the test of time in an ever-changing neighborhood. From the early days of this Parish in a tenement house in Chelsea – not far from Saint Eleftherios – through the post-war years when this church was under the spiritual care of one of the last bishops of the Jerusalem Patriarchate in America, Saint George has occupied a special place in the life of the Manhattan Greek Orthodox Community.
Many of you may not even know that your northern Westside neighbor, Annunciation, used to be directly across the street, where the Police Station is now. There’s even a painting of the old Annunciation at the Archdiocese, gifted by the family of the artist and the only known picture of the former Church. In those days, Annunciation was New Calendar and Saint George was Old Calendar.
I mention these histories because I want to remind you all that you are part of a broader fabric of the Greek Orthodox communities of Manhattan. These experiences and memories should be treasured, because they give you an orientation and foundation upon which to build the future.
Although it is true, as the Gospel reading says today, that the place of worship is not so important. Listed again to what the Lord Jesus said to the Samaritan Woman:
But a time is coming – and it is now! – when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeks such worshippers as these. God is spirit; and those who worship Him must do so in spirit and in truth. 1
Therefore, my beloved Christians:
Even as you care and tend this beautiful Saint George Parish with your new priest, Hieromonk Sophronios, understand that the true worship of God is something that goes with you from your holy gatherings to wherever your life calls you.
This place is holy, but so is all the creation. And the Spirit of God can breathe through you in every place and at every time.
There is no limit to God, because He is infinite – without ending and without beginning.
So stand strong in this faith, and together with you good priest, live the life of love, mercy, and compassion that God calls us to – in spirit and in truth.
Χριστὸς Ἀνέστη! [Ἀληθῶς Ἀνέστη!]