November 1, 2015
Feast of the Holy Unmercenaries
Saints Cosmas and Damian
When you give a feast invite the poor, the maimed,
the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.
To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On this feast of the Holy Unmercenaries, Saints Cosmas and Damian, we are reminded by their faithful witness of the priority of serving those in great need, especially the sick, the poor, the elderly, and the orphaned. These two selfless and holy men gave their lives and abilities to helping any who had need of healing and comfort. They were true stewards of the power of Christ and the hope, restoration, and eternal life He offers.
Saints Cosmas and Damian affirmed the teachings of our Lord who said, he who humbles himself will be exalted (Luke 14:11). They did not seek great earthly reward or recognition for what they did. In knowing and seeing the mighty and miraculous work of God in healing those in need, they offered glory, honor, and praise to Him. Through compassionate care, artful healing, and miraculous cures, they guided each person into the presence of Christ. Their lives were a constant invitation to others, especially those burdened by the struggles of life, to come to the great feast of love and hope offered to them by God.
As Orthodox Christians we are led by the example of the Holy Unmercenaries and called by Christ to go out into the highways and hedges, and compel people to come in that the master’s house may be filled (Luke 14:23). As we come together to celebrate the great feast in the Holy Eucharist, we are guided and inspired to go out and invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind (Luke 14:13-14) through service to anyone in need and in loving concern for their well-being and salvation. Through our lives, generosity, and care, and in the healing and renewal found in Christ, we give honor and glory to God. In humility we acknowledge that these great gifts come from above, from the Creator and Sustainer of life.
This exaltation of the power of God to heal and to save is the witness of the philanthropic ministries of our beloved Ecumenical Patriarchate. On this feast each year, we recognize this vital work of the faithful in Constantinople by offering our prayers and support for these ministries. Led by our National Ladies Philoptochos Society and local parish chapters, we are asked to give generously to help with the ongoing care of the sick, elderly, and orphans.
This support is also essential for the broader humanitarian work of the Ecumenical Patriarchate under the leadership of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. Many are suffering and experiencing tremendous needs due to crises in the region. Through the compassionate and humble service offered by Orthodox Christians, the power of fear is being overcome by the power of hope, and real threats to life and well-being are met with grace and faith. Knowing that our gifts and prayers provide strength and resources to our beloved brothers and sisters in Constantinople, let us continue to support this work as we have done so faithfully in previous years; and as we help them may we also continue to offer to anyone in need an invitation to the great feast of love, healing and life.
With paternal love in Him,
Archbishop of America