The Feast of the Holy Unmercenaries
Sts. 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 Order of St. Andrew, 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,
During his earthly ministry, our Lord Jesus Christ sent out his twelve disciples commanding them to preach, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 10:7). He also directed them to "heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and cast out demons" (10:8). This twofold mission of preaching and healing was made possible by the divine power of God working in and through the disciples, both for their own salvation and calling and for those who received their word and ministry. This divine power brought conviction and faith through the message offered by the disciples; and through miraculous acts of healing, God’s power affirmed His loving and gracious presence.
The preeminence of this divine power and its witness to the love and presence of God was ensured by another commandment of our Lord: "You received without paying, give without pay" (10:8). Just as the disciples received freely the power and grace of God, they were to offer freely healing by the grace of God. The availability of divine power was not to be dependent on an exchange of money or gifts or even the necessities of life. The ministry of the disciples was to be a visible sign of the free offering of God’s love to humankind.
On the first day of November, we commemorate two holy men who continued this sacred vocation of the Holy Apostles. Saints Cosmas and Damian, the “Unmercenaries and Wonderworkers,” were given the power to heal the sick and cast out unclean spirits through their prayers. To poor and rich, friend and stranger, they offered the power and grace of God, accepting nothing in return. As they healed, they proclaimed that it was Christ, the Great Physician, who was working in and through them, bringing comfort, faith, and salvation.
This offering and witness of the power and grace of God is also the primary mission of our National Ladies Philoptochos Society. For over seventy years the members of this Church organization have freely offered healing, comfort, and the grace of God. They have given generously and consistently, proclaiming Christ as Philanthropos, the one who loves humankind. They continue their offering, seeking only the healing and salvation of others and the glory of God.
As a means of assisting the ministry of our Ladies Philoptochos Society, it has been our custom to have an annual collection for the National Philoptochos Ecumenical Patriarchate Fund. This fund provides resources for the hospitals, nursing homes, and philanthropic agencies of our Ecumenical Patriarchate. On Sunday, November 5, all parishes of the Archdiocese are asked to show our support and love for the venerable Greek Orthodox community of Constantinople by passing a special tray for this fund. We have been blessed by God in so many ways, and this is a very visible way by which we can offer freely to those in need.
In addition, the command of our Lord, the example of the Holy Unmercenaries, and our support of our Ecumenical Patriarchate should remind us of our sacred calling as Orthodox Christians. Each and every day of our lives is a day to discover new opportunities to offer freely the grace and power of God through words of compassion and selfless acts of kindness. May our good and merciful Lord guide us all in seeking these opportunities, and may He strengthen you in every good work for His honor and glory.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America