of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America
during his Archpastoral Visit after Hurricane Dorian
Sunday of the Seventh Ecumenical Council
Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church
Nassau, The Bahamas October 13, 2019
My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ,
The God that we worship is truly “the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort,” as the Apostle Paul has said (2 Corinthians 1:3). God made us; He cares for us; and nothing can separate us from His divine and fatherly love.
Out of that divine love we have come here today, dear spiritual children, to extend the mercies and comfort of the Lord. As your spiritual father, I am here on behalf of all your brothers and sisters in our Archdiocese, who hold you in their hearts at this difficult time. We have come to stand with you, to pray for you, to bless you, and to offer you our tangible expressions of love and support.
The whole world mourns to see the damage of Hurricane Dorian in your beautiful island nation. Even more, we are pained at the destruction of the most precious sight on earth—the image and likeness of God in our fellow man. We have heard the news of so many dead, so many missing, and so many displaced from their homes. We pray with you for the souls of those who have fallen, and we will work with you to help those in urgent need.
International Orthodox Christian Charities has come here ahead of us to begin their relief efforts. Leadership 100 and the National Philoptochos Society, along with the local chapter in Southampton, have arranged for a sizable gift, which is for all the people of The Bahamas. I bring this gift today as our offering of love. Although geographically we are separated by many miles of ocean, spiritually we are closer than neighbors. In Christ, we are one family, brothers and sisters together; in Christ, we are one Body, and members of one another.
In today’s Gospel, we heard about the seeds of faith that are cast far and wide by those who spread the Good News. The parable speaks of the enemies of our souls as being like birds of the air that devour the seeds and leave behind sadness and despair. May the Lord grant us the grace that drives away every evil influence which might injure the faith and courage of this community!
Today we also remember the Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council. These Fathers affirmed the rightful use of the Holy Icons in our churches. They fought to restore the divine images which had been defaced and destroyed. May the Lord grant us today the wisdom and strength of the Fathers. For we also hope to mend the divine image and likeness, as we behold it in the face of every suffering man, woman, and child.
Today, and with every Divine Liturgy we exclaim: Τὰ σὰ ἐκ τῶν σῶν σοὶ προσφέρομεν κατὰ πάντα καὶ διὰ πάντα. “We offer to You these gifts from Your own gifts, in all and for all.”
All that we have, we receive first from God.
And all that we give, we give ultimately to God.
As we partake of the Eucharist, we receive the mercies of God in their most tangible form—the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
As messengers of the mercies of God, we must therefore share them in the most tangible form that we can. We offer therefore not just thoughts and prayers, which are good. But more than that, we offer our tears, our treasures, our time and our talents.
Beloved in Christ,
Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39). And if we abide in Him, neither can we be separated from one another. We remain one in Spirit, one in Truth, one in Faith, and one in purpose. I pray that this God-given unity will bring you comfort, courage, and strength for the days ahead.
May the Father of mercies bless and keep this precious community forever!