And again, my beloved, the great feast of St. Nicholas has emerged. What shall we say? Should we honor his virtues?
Should we praise his abstinence? As his Apolytikion says, he was the “teacher of abstinence”. For not only when he was older, but also when he was a child in the arms of his mother, he fasted from milk and did not nurse [on Wednesdays and Fridays].
Should we praise his meekness, for his Apolytikion says that he was the “icon of meekness”? Amidst insults and slanders and schemes of his enemies, he responded with great meekness. He teaches us, that we ourselves, no matter how many times we are insulted and slandered in this world, we must remain meek. There is no greater power than meekness, through which the demons of hell are conquered.
Or should we speak of his almsgiving, his great almsgiving? He would go at night to the homes of the poor, and to distribute gold coins, and he saved from filth and corruption.
If this general of the Church – Saint Paul – was among us today, again his tears would run endlessly from his eyes. Tears: -for those who abuse and blaspheme the Cross of Christ, -for those who are ashamed to make the sign of the Cross and not love the life of the Cross, -for those who do not walk according to the citizenship of the Cross, -for those who with their temporary power test the patience of the people, and oppress and tyrannize the human person, being scornful and disrespectful towards the unrepeatable divine image in man, -for those who like Judas betray Christ, -for all sorts of heretics who like wolves do not spare the flock and speak perverse things in order to draw away disciples after them (Acts 20:30), -for those who create schisms and divisions, putting the spotlight on themselves and supposedly work to present themselves as saviors instead of the true Savior Christ.
His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim of Kastoria (part of Sermon)
On this day, the first missionaries were ordained by the Holy Spirit—the apostles, from whom we, your priests, have received the grace of ordination in succession. On this day the saving Sacraments, celebrated to this day in the Church through your priests, became efficacious. The apostles and other believers were given the gift of word and wisdom for preaching the Gospel to all people, and the abundant gift of miracles by which they, then and thereafter, attracted many human souls to faith in Christ and saved them.
The Holy Spirit was abundantly poured out upon the apostles, but other members of the Orthodox Church are given the Holy Spirit through repentance, Baptism, and the other Sacraments. The event of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles is very important for the Orthodox Church. This day is the day of the true foundation of the Orthodox Church, or the Christian society of those saved in Christ.
Through these two brothers – Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius, Christ, our God, has given us great mercy.
After His glorious resurrection, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ appeared to His disciples to strengthen their faith. And He said to them: Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you. (Matt. 28:19-20)
sacredly and strictly our Orthodox Faith, both in its canons and in its dogmas.
Do not adapt your faith to your life, but your life to the faith. Draw all your
happiness from the True Orthodox Faith. Then you will be true sons of the
Orthodox Church, and the Lord will pour out on you even here His boundless
Celebrating holy Theophany, we are transported in thought to the very place of this event, and we shall intelligently attend to what is happening there! There it is—Bethabara!
You can see St. John standing on the shore, in clothes made of camel’s hair, with a girdle of a skin about his loins (Mk. 1:6). He is surrounded by a countless multitude of people from Jerusalem, Judea, and all the lands around the Jordan.
The Baptism of the Lord has just finished, and all eyes are fixed upon Him just emerged from the waters. They see nothing else. But sharpen by faith the eye of your mind, and following after John, passing over what is seen by all, turn an attentive gaze upon what is not seen by all — on the opened heavens, the dove descending, and the voice saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased (Mk. 1:11).
Fix your gaze, and do not tear your attention away from this wondrous vision! O! Who will give power to our words, that they might worthily sing praises to God in three Hypostases, revealed at the Jordan!
We should know that even one tear of repentance is
equivalent to a spiritual bath. Just as the body feels refreshed when it
bathes, and just as clothes become clean when they are washed, similarly, the
tears of a repentant soul purify the heart, purify the mind, purify the body,
purify life, purify speech, and purify a person’s every action. Let us kneel
and pray with extreme humility! Every repentant soul is given words: it is
granted enlightened prayer.
It is necessary for us to receive enlightenment. We should not be deluded by
the world. We should not be drawn and attached to earthly things. We should not
be weighed down by matters of the present age and this current life.