Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the 1st Ecumenical Council

Archbishop Seraphim : Homily
Faithful Witness to Christ
7th Sunday of Pascha
(Memory of the Holy Fathers of the 1st Ecumenical Council)
[Given outside the archdiocese]
16 May, 2010
Acts 20:16-18, 28-36 ; John 17:1-13


In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Our Saviour is praying for the unity of the whole Church today, and He is asking that all who would come to believe in Him would follow Him. It is important for us to remember that we are not following an idea or a principle, but a Person. This Person happens to be the Son of God. The Son of God loves us, and our relationship with Him is expected to be one of love. It is absolutely not a relationship of fear.

Today, the Apostle Paul is speaking to the elders of the Church of Ephesus who came to see him (as he was about to depart from them). He says to them that they should follow Christ in the way of love, that they should support the weak, and that they should be generous in alms-giving. He encourages them to keep their hearts focussed on Christ. He no doubt does so in the hope that they would keep remembering the truth about Him who is the Truth, that is, Jesus Christ. He also says that he knows that after his departure savage wolves will come trying to eat them up (that is to say, spiritual wolves). These wolves are people who have changed the teaching about Jesus Christ because they cannot accept the whole Truth. With their own philosophies, with their own logic, they adjust their idea of who is Jesus Christ.

It is true that from the earliest times, even in apostolic times, there have been such people who cannot accept the whole Truth, and who try to make Jesus Christ easier for themselves to accept. We could be the same as they, if we prefer not to let ourselves be made into Christ’s image, but instead we try to distort Christ into our own image. It is extremely important for us who follow Jesus Christ, truly to follow Jesus Christ. We can only be our true selves when we live in a relationship of love with Jesus Christ. We cannot change Jesus Christ. He is the One who creates us and the whole world. Who are we to change Him ? The Prophet Isaiah had words to this effect : “Can the pot tell the potter to make it in some particular way ?” (See Isaiah 29:16.) It is not for us to tell God who we should be. He knows who He created us to be. Instead it is for us to co-operate with His love so that we can become our true selves.

In these days (probably more than in all human history), it is crucial that we Orthodox believers do this very thing. People nowadays invent so many crazy ideas about who is Jesus Christ that it is not possible for Him to recognise Himself. However, we know that the Apostle Paul was right when he said in his Letter to the Hebrews that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). We know that the Lord whom we love is the Lord whom the Apostle loves. We know His love for us, and His intimate care about every detail of our lives. It is our responsibility to share this love with all the people around us who are so lost, who are so hungry, who are so thirsty for this truth about Him who is the Truth. This truth is that He loves us.

All we who come from the frozen north (as I do, coming from Canada) are always warmed by your Christian love. May God grant that your Father-in-God, Alejo, your bishop, will never fail in leading you on the right path. May the Lord always give you the strength to live in the right way. May this cathedral (which is so close to the airport) continue to shine as a sign of the love of Jesus Christ to people in this city and to those visiting this city.

May the Lord bless, protect, and save you. May He enable you to glorify in your whole lives the All-Holy Trinity : the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages.