His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros
Homily for the Great Vespers of Saint George the Trophy-Bearer
April 22, 2020
Saint George – Saint Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, New York, New York
My Beloved Brothers and Sisters in the Risen Christ,
Χριστὸς Ἀνέστη! [and in response: Ἀληθῶς Ἀνέστη!]
Christ is Risen! [and in response: Truly He is Risen!]
What a joy it is to be with you in this historic and beautiful parish of Saint George and Saint Demetrios, the two warrior Saints who are in reality great healers and peacemakers. Indeed, as the Lord said:
Μακάριοι οἱ εἰρηνοποιοί, ὅτι αὐτοὶ υἱοὶ Θεοῦ κληθήσονται.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.[*]
Of these “sons of God,” this evening we welcome the feast of the Great-Martyr and Trophy-Bearer George – whose fame extends throughout the ages and around the world.
This Bright Week, because the day of his Feast, April 23rd, falls after the Holy Pascha, we retain the dateof his Feast. But it is significant to note that whenever April 23rd falls before the Holy Pascha – during Lent or Holy Week – the celebration of Saint George is moved to Bright Monday, because this Holy Great-Martyr is considered so important by the Church, that his Feast should not be diminished in any way.
As we chant in his Apolytikion, he is “τῶν αἰχμαλώτων ἐλευθερωτής, τῶν πτωχῶν ὑπερασπιστής, τῶν ἀσθενούντων ἰατρός” – “the one who sets the captives free, the defender of those in poverty, and the physician of those facing infirmity.”
Therefore, we come to the Trophy-Bearer George in our moment of need:
When we are facing the captivity of isolation and confinement that is necessary to protect our health and the safety of others;
When we are facing impoverishment due to the stranglehold on our economy due to the pandemic;
And when we are facing the challenge of sickness ourselves, and of those that we love.
We come to Saint George with our prayers and supplications, asking Him, as he was also the Champion of Kings – Βασιλέων Ὑπέρμαχος – to be our Champion in this time of need and distress.
We pray that his love for Christ – a love that compelled him to accept a Passion and Holy Week of his very own – pour forth upon us who are the Body of Christ, His Holy Bride and Church.
We pray that as a true husbandman of the earth – the very meaning of his name, Γεώργιος – he will use all his care, all his skill, all his power of intercessory prayer, to set creation aright, and end this global pandemic.
We pray that together with his brother in arms, Saint Demetrios, whose name is glorified in this parish along with his own, they will together fight for us in every way, to deliver us from harm.
As is chanted in the Canon of the day:
Δημήτριε Μάρτυς, σὺν Γεωργίῳ τῷ κλεινῷ· ἀγαθοὶ γὰρ οἱ δύο, μηδαμῶς ἐλλίπητε, τόνδε τὸν χῶρον φρουροῦντες ἀεί, καὶ πειρασμῶν, ὅλας μυριάδας, μετακινοῦντες ἀμφότεροι.
O Martyr Demetrios, with the famed George, truly both are blessed, in nothing lacking, always keeping watch over this earth, and they both cast away the myriads of our trials.[†]
May it always be so!
Χριστὸς Ἀνέστη! Ἀληθῶς Ἀνέστη!