His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America
Homily at the Feast of Saint John Chrysostom
The Chapel of Saint John Chrysostom, Metropolis of New Jersey
Westfield, New Jersey
November 13, 2021
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
On this Feast of the Patron Saint of the God-saved Metropolis of New Jersey, as your Patriarchal Vicar, I rejoice to be with you – the faithful Orthodox Christians of the Metropolis – so as to celebrate the memory and meaning of the remarkable and golden-mouthed Archbishop of Constantinople, John Chrysostom.
It occurs to me that another remarkable Archbishop of Constantinople has just been here in our country and Sacred Archdiocese – His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, whose reign on the Throne of Chrysostom has been much longer, but not necessarily much easier. The Holy Chrysostom was known as much for his truth-telling as his amazing command of Scripture and his elegant and eloquent preaching.
And our Spiritual Father in Constantinople has the same Apostolic virtue of speaking the truth in love.[*] He is, indeed, unafraid to speak truth to the Church. And he shares the same courage and daring of his saintly predecessor.
This is why in gathering for the Holy Eucharist today, we feel the dual presence of these giants of the faith of the Holy Mother Church of Constantinople. The former was persecuted by the State – the then Empire – and by “false brethren” within the Church, as is our Ecumenical Patriarch even now. It is as the Holy Apostle Paul says in his Letter to the Galatians:
But because of false brethren unawares, who slipped in to spy out our freedom, which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage – to them we did not yield submission even for a moment, that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. [†]
You see how the Saints of the Church do not yield, “even for a moment?” This was Saint Paul. This was Saint John Chrysostom. And this is Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew!
Because even within the Church, we see as many vices as we see virtues. Human nature is always in need of redemption and transformation. And we need – and, indeed, we have – a spiritual champion in the sacred person of His All-Holiness. He shares in the grace that raised Saint John Chrysostom to the Throne of Constantinople. And today, in the Phanar, with great humility, the Patriarch places the Holy Icon of Saint Chrysostom in the Patriarchal Throne, and his sacred relics are brought into the midst of the Patriarchal Cathedral of Saint George, to honor his righteous predecessor, who is also his fervent intercessor in the Kingdom of God.
My beloved Christians,
In these days, when throughout the world there are so many challenges to the Mother Church – both within and without the Body of Orthodoxy – let us fervently implore the Holy Chrysostom to watch over the See of Saint Andrew the First-called Apostle, which he served with such honesty, devotion, piety and truthfulness. May he watch over our Ecumenical Patriarch – to grace him with health, long life and the fortitude to lead the Church, which sometimes resists the canonical order that His All-Holiness knows so well. And may he watch over this Sacred Archdiocese and the Holy Metropolis of New Jersey, which brings him honor through this very Chapel and the ministries that issue forth from this Ἕδρα where service to the Faithful comes above all.
We have the good and devout ministry of our brothers: Bishop Apostolos of Medeia; the Very Reverend Christoforos Oikonomidis, your Chancellor; and Deacon Philotheos – who represent all the ranks of clergy working together for the good of the Church and the glory of God.
Therefore, in our communion of the Holy Table at this Divine Liturgy that bears the name of the Holy Chrysostom, as well as at our fellowship, which will continue afterward in our reception following the Liturgy, let us receive God’s blessings and one another in love. Let us give glory to God, Who raises up leaders and heroes of the Faith like the saintly Chrysostom and His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, so that the Church always lives in hope for the fullness of the Faith. Δόξα τῷ Θεῷ πάντων ἕνεκεν! Ἀμήν.