Homily of His All Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch
on the feast of the Entry of the Theotokos,
at the Cathedral Church of the Entry of the Theotokos, in Staurodromion,
during the Ordination to the Episcopacy of His Grace Konstantinos,
Metropolitan-elect of Singapore
(Constantinople, 21 of November, 2011)
Most Reverend Brothers,
Your Grace, Metropolitan-elect of Singapore, Konstantinos,
Honorable Counselor General of Greece
Beloved Children in the Lord,
“Who may speak your…, O Virgin, and who may make heard your praises, O child of God, Maria? You became Mother of God, having united your mind with God, you united God with the flesh, you made God the son of Man and man the Son of God, you make the world a friend with the Creator of the world, and you taught us that the vision of God by the saints does not take place only by the senses or by syllogisms, but by the purity of the mind and by the participation to the divine grace, thanks to which, and not by syllogisms but by an immaterial sense, we feast on God’s beauties.”
By these words, the God-bearer saint Gregory of Palamas, the authentic worshiper of the Mother of God, gives us the meaning of today’s splendid feast which this Cathedral Church of our most Holy Archdiocese of Constantinople celebrates.
Living in the holy of holies the immaculate Lade Theotokos, brought her mind in a purity above all the earthly things and in a moment made the whole earth into a heaven. She did not call on clouds, which obeyed many other saints, but rather Him who brings about and brings up the clouds to the ends of the earth. She did not call on the dew and the transient rain, but Him who is the treasure of all good things.
Thanks to the purity and perfection of the Virgin, this blessing is given to each and every Christian, who might participate conscientiously in the life of the Church. Partaking of the divine and awesome mysteries of the Eucharist—which today too, by the Grace of God, we celebrate with our Holy and Sacred Synod, as it has been degreed by an ancient custom—we receive Christ in us, we become partakers of the divine nature, we receive nourishment that immortalize us, that makes us children of God, so that we may become united with Him, but also with each other.
This fest, my dear brothers and children, calls each one of us to make the body and our heart a sanctuary through virtue and through the incessant prayers and contemplation of God, “so that when God comes in fire at His second Parousia, take boldness and approach Him in order to enlighten ourselves and remain always enlightened, in glory of that highest light of the thrice-lightened and monarchic divinity.” After all, if our likeness to God were imperfect, it would become impossible to remain eternally in unity with God.
It was that pure and perfect life that our beloved spiritual son, and as of this day brother and co-celebrant, Konstantinos loved since his youth, predestined to serve, by the Grace of God, the newly-founded Holy Metropolis of Singapore, since he has become enriched, as a laden ship, by the experiences and the fruits of his long priestly service as the Chancellor of the Holy Metropolis of Hong-Kong, part of which was until recently this newly-founded Metropolis. Our most Holy Mother Church looked at how he spent himself in the missionary vineyard of the Lord, first next to Niketas, then Metropolitan of Hong-Kong and now Metropolitan of Dardanellion, and now next to Nektarios, the current Metropolitan of Hong-Kong and his brother, and so elected him, by canonical votes, to assume further load on his shoulders, “so that he may bring forth more fruit” as the Bishop and Shepherd of the Holy Metropolis of Singapore.
Thus, his exceptional family was blessed in offering to the service of the Church two of her children and for this the wagers and blessing by the just wage-giver will be great for such an offering.
The ecclesiastical ethos and mentality demonstrated until now by our brother soon-to-be ordained, his missionary zeal, his proven productivity and reliability, and his significant philanthropic contribution to the flock of the Mother Church in those lands, when the terrible disaster of the oceanic waves, namely of that tsunami, devastated those regions—all of this guarantee for the successful and fruitful Hierarchical service of his which now begins.
At this service and missionary course, we pray and exhort you, holy brother, to have as perennial provision the five virtues of which St Macarios of Egypt speaks and which “they build the whole man, though they can be divided in many ways: prayer, continence, charity, poverty and forbearance. Through these five virtues, the Lord’s follower will accomplish a great deal of piety.”
Our Lord calls man saying “come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). “And as many souls are convinced and come, He gives them rest from the heavy and bothersome and impure thoughts, and they rest for every iniquity, keeping the true and holy Sabbath and celebrating a feast of the Spirit, a feast of joy and ineffable delight” (St Macarios of Egypt). It is that rest that our Orthodox Church is called and is able to offer to the modern man who ignores God but who genuinely desires Him. It is only Her that is capable of taking man out of idolatry’s and ignorance’s darkness that dominates those very regions you have been called to serve, without doubt by the divine providence, our dear brother. You are called to lead our brothers there to a pure and God-loving worship, out of a pure heart.
Do not forget that the entire choir of the genuine missionaries cared for nothing else than the spirit’s friendship with God and goodness; instead of wealth, they preferred poverty; instead of glory dishonor; instead of enjoyments the hard times; instead of anger love. Hate what is pleasurable in the present life. Do not forget that “there is no other way to salvation, but through the neighbor” (St Macarios of Egypt, 37th Homily), and that no effort in the Church’s service is in vain for our Lord condescends to all and compensates all.
“See that you don’t despise one of these little ones” (Matt. 18:10) of your brothers who live in the lands which you have been called to serve in mission. Every moment will be for you significant and you will reckon with God for what you made out of it. You must struggle in sanctifying yourself daily and in keeping the light of the Lord’s commandments, for otherwise a kerygma only in words would remain “a clanging cymbal.” Do not fear that you will have to face daily people who are not Christians and whose culture, civilizations and mentality is at times at variance with those of ours or even hostile toward our Christian faith. After all, we cannot say that the spirit of Christ prevails even in the developed countries of the West! Yet, this should not make you afraid. As the blessed elder Sophrony Sakharov, that great father and theologian of our Church in these last days, says: “it is possible that apostasy become of yet greater proportions. It is not impossible that each one of us, in order to persevere in the faith, must be ready to resist the whole world. Let them be billions; let them, those intellectuals and ignorants, consider us fools. Our answer is one: no matter how small and insignificant we may be, it is right him who lives in Christ and not him who lives away from Christ.” We can recover the great brilliance of the Church of Christ only through the desperate effort to live Christianly, according to the Gospel, without turning our attention to how our contemporaries might treat us.
In this effort of yours, you will have with you the prayers of all of us, of your Archbishop and Patriarch, of the members of the Sacred and Holy Synod of the Mother Church of Constantinople, who honored you and entrusted you by their votes, and of all those who are present here today praying with us that you be strengthened by God, of those who live here but also of those who came from abroad in order to share with you the joy of this unique day of your life. We pray that you show yourself worthy of that trust and of the expectations of the Mother Church, which, from the very first centuries has fought for the propagation of Gospel to all nations, moved by the love for God and for man, the same love that vouchsafes for us eternal life. This Church does not fight in order to dominate over others, She does not seek followers. She struggles only for the dominion of the kingdom of the Father, which is neither food nor drink, but life in the Holy Spirit, sanctification and salvation.
We pray that our Lady the Theotokos, whose entry in the sanctuary we celebrate today, protect you in your missionary efforts, be a helper and assistance in your work, that She may bless and materialize your visions with regards to the propagation of the Gospel of Her Son, for His glory and for the salvation of the least of His brothers.
To Him may be the honor and the worship for ever and ever. Amen.