His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America Homily on the Second Sunday of Saint Luke, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral

New York, New York

October 4, 2020

 

My Dear Christians of the Cathedral Family,

Beloved Father Nikolas and Presvytera Meghan,

Today is a blessed day for our Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, with this welcome of a new pastor for the community. We are glad for the past ministry of Father John, who has now embraced a fresh mission at Saint Paraskevi in Greenlawn. And we rejoice in the new promise for the future that Father Nikolas brings to the Cathedral on this Sunday.

Today’s Epistle Reading from Saint Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians reminds all of us of a most fundamental truth, of what it means to be a body of believers:

Brothers and Sisters, you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, “I will live in them and move among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”[1] 

Even within this magnificent structure, under the gaze of the Pantokrator above, and adorned with the images of Heaven itself, it is we who are the Temple of the Living God.

For as the Holy Gospel of Saint John – which we read on every Night of the Sacred Pascha – says:

Καὶ ὁ Λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο

καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν,

καὶ ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ,

δόξαν ὡς μονογενοῦς παρὰ πατρός,

πλήρης χάριτος καὶ ἀληθείας.

         And the Word – the Logos – became flesh

         and made His dwelling place within us,

         and we beheld His glory,

         glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father,

         full of grace and truth. [2] 

In His becoming a human being for our sakes, He not only accomplished our salvation through His Cross and Resurrection, He established us as the Temple of the Living God. The fourth century Church Father, Saint Athanasius of Alexandria, summed up the meaning and purpose of this miracle in a single sentence:

“For He became a human being, so that we might be made divine.”[3]

Therefore, just as we receive the Body of Christ, we are made into the Body of Christ, the living Temple of God.

And it is our entire life together – whether it is around this Altar at the holy Liturgy, or enjoying the fellowship and company with one another, or educating our children and ourselves in the Faith and in life – all of these are aspects of being the Temple of God.

In embracing your new pastor today, you are bearing witness to this truth, because we all have been appointed differing roles in the Church, but always to the same purpose and goal. To love one another. This is what should animate every aspect of Church life, for without love, we are no more “than the clatter of clanging metal, or at best a sounding cymbal,” as Saint Paul says in the other Letter to the Corinthians.[4]

We do not gather to make noise in the Church, but to “sing unto the Lord a new song”[5] – one that is filled with harmony and beauty; one that sings a new song about the new commandment that the Lord gave us on the night in which He gave Himself for the life of the world. He said:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another – that you love one another as I have loved you. This is how all people will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another. [6]

How fitting it is to be reminded of this aspiration for such a sweet-sounding and melodious Church life on this National Church Music Sunday, when we celebrate the inspired hymns that sing of this love.

Indeed, Father Nikolas, you are called to be something of a Χορηγός for this Cathedral – the one who was the chorus leader of the ancient Greek dramas. But this should not be mistaken to be the same as a choir director today. In fact, the Χορηγός was the person who supplied the members of the chorus with all their needs.

Thus, the word also becomes a title of the Holy Spirit, who supplies all our needs, as we pray in the well-known prayer: Βασιλεῦ Οὐράνιε, where we address the Third Person of the Holy Trinity as follows:

“… ὁ Θησαυρός τῶν Ἀγαθῶν καὶ Ζωῆς Χορηγός…”

“… the Treasury of Blessings and the Χορηγός of Life…”

And this means, of course, that God is the supplier of all the needs of the Church, and the greatest need is for everyone to feel loved and to truly be loved – loved in a righteous and pure way that affirms their personhood, their intrinsic value as a human being and as a child of God. 

         Therefore, Father Nikolas, I exhort you:

         Lead this Cathedral in a harmonious and beautiful chorus of love.

         Let every corner of this Temple of the Living God be filled with the sounds of loving encouragement, caring exhortation, and selfless prayer.

         Let every ministry – and especially the education of the children – be focused on lifting up hearts and minds into the presence of God, as we pray in every Divine Liturgy:

         Ἄνω σχῶμεν τὰς καρδίας.

         Let us lift up our hearts!

Thus, Father Nikolas, your ministry will be in holy imitation of the Divine Χορηγός, Who supplies us with our every need for life in this world, and in the one beyond.

And for every member of this blesséd community, who embraces your new pastor today, allow me to leave all of you with this exhortation of the Holy Apostle Peter:

… be as living stones; be built up to  become a Spiritual House, a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. [7]

You see, my friends, God lives in us, His Living Temple. His movements and life are known through us. This is how the world knows that our Churches are Temples of the living God, and this is how all people will know that we are disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ – if we love one another.

Amen. 


[1] II Corinthians 6:16 (referencing Leviticus 26:12, Jeremiah 32:38, and Ezekiel 37:27).

[2] John 1:14.

[3] “Αὐτὸς γὰρ ἐνηνθρώπισεν, ἵνα ἡμεῖς θεοποιηθῶμεν,” De Incarnatione Verbi 54, J. P. Migne, Patrologia Graeca, Paris 1857-66, 25.192B.

[4] I Corinthians 13:1.

[5] Psalm 97:1 (LXX).

[6] John 13:34,35.

[7] I Peter 2:5.