Protocol No. 182/18
November 1, 2018
Feast of the Holy Unmercenaries
Saints Cosmas and Damian
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,
Our sacred ministry to those in need is our response to the grace and compassion that has been shown to us by God through Christ. As Jesus guided His disciples, He directs us to love one another as I have loved you (John 15:12). The ministry of our Lord also revealed this love as He healed many who were sick. He had compassion for those who were suffering, and His deep concern and abiding love was extended to those who had great need (Matthew 4:24). As He sent His disciples out to preach in the villages, He instructed them to heal the sick (Matthew 10:8).
This compassion for those in need was affirmed by Christ as central to our understanding and attitudes regarding service in the kingdom of God. In the parable of the Great Judgment, Jesus commended those who responded to the needs of others: for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me (Matthew 25:35-36).
From the earliest days of the Church, the faithful have shown concern for those in need, the orphans and widows (James 1:27), the sick (Acts 5:16), and the poor (Romans 15:26). We are blessed by the example of Saints, such as Saint Basil the Great, who organized philanthropic resources and ministries to offer compassion, healing, and assistance. Saint Basil provided formative leadership in the establishment of benevolent institutions connected to the ministry of the Church by directing the building of hospitals and hospices, as well as schools for children. He embraced those who were suffering and sick with a compassion that revealed the holiness of his life and his concern for the spiritual and physical well-being of others.
This was the manner and life and service of the Holy Unmercenaries, Cosmas and Damian, whom we commemorate this day. Through obedience to God and a selfless and compassionate offering of their lives and abilities, they were given the power to heal sickness through prayer. As they healed in the name of Christ, they preached the Gospel with the hope that souls and bodies would be healed unto the abundant life and salvation through God’s grace.
The benevolent ministries of our beloved Ecumenical Patriarchate continue to offer compassionate service to those in need through programs for orphans and the poor and through the Baloukli Hospital and elder center. Each year we offer our support for these ministries on this Feast of the Holy Unmercenaries, and this year our National Ladies Philoptochos Society and its local chapters will have a special offering on Sunday, November 4. As you offer your prayers for the Ecumenical Patriarchate and these ministries, please give generously to help support this witness of faith and compassion.
Through our offering of faith and love, both for these ministries and through our parishes and our lives, may we give thanks to God for His abundant grace. May His love continue to inspire us to hear the cry of the orphan, to bind the wounds of the injured, to comfort the bereaved, and to know that when we offer compassion-ate service to anyone, even to the least of these, we are offering service to Christ.
With paternal love in Him,
Archbishop of America