Homily at the Divine Liturgy of the Second Sunday of Matthew – Homilies

HOMILY

By His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America

At the Divine Liturgy of the Second Sunday of Matthew

St. Peter’s Greek Orthodox Church

Bronx, New York

June 26, 2022

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ,

Once again, I rejoice to be among you at this time of your Patronal Feast of Saint Peter, the Chief of the Apostles. Peter’s leadership over the Disciples, especially during our Lord’s earthly ministry, comes from his very human qualities, which we see so clearly in the Four Gospels.

However, it is not free from flaws and flaws. Yet it is precisely his personal characteristics that endear him to generations of Christians, who see in him their own capacities for belief and doubt. He walked on water in faith and sank under the waves in fear.

You see, there’s an eagerness about Peter that reveals the inner workings of his mind – he jumps at everything. Even in today’s Gospel reading we hear how he immediately left his business when Jesus called him to become a “fisher of men.” He was a fisherman by profession, with associates. But he immediately followed Jesus and left all the boats and nets on the shore. And his partners, James and John, also followed him. Such was the magnetism of our Lord! And such was the invitation to be in His Divine Presence!

For every Christian, Peter demonstrates the “ups and downs” that are part of the spiritual life. He followed the Lord eagerly, but when his own life was at stake, he denied Him three times. He even confessed that the Lord was the “Son of the Living God”, but he still walked away from the empty tomb wondering what really happened.

Saint Peter shows us all that the spiritual path – although made to be straight and constricted by God – is a winding and winding path when we try to follow it. This is because we often try to integrate God into our understanding, instead of letting God transform us through love and grace.

Do you remember Saint Peter on the Mount of the Transfiguration, with his fishing companions, Jacques and Jean? When he saw the Lord transfigured in glory, talking with Moses and Elijah (a truly breathtaking sight!), he said the following:

αββ inert, καλόν ἐστιν ἡμᾶς ὧδε εἶναι καὶ ποιήσωμεν σκηνὰς τρεῖς, σοὶ μίαν καὶ μωϋσεῖ μίαν καὶ ̓ηλίᾳ μ ί μ

Rabbi, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.[1]

Evangelist Mark adds the comment: “He did not know what he was saying.[2] Indeed, it must have been an awkward moment. But there’s our Peter, trying to make sense of the miracle before his eyes, and trying to capture it by building these little tents to hold the experience together.

My dear Christians,

This is often how we are too, when we are confronted with the Divine Presence and unable to understand it. That’s why we build our churches the way we do – just like your parish of St. Peter. For this Sacred Space to prepare us to meet the Lord in all his glory and all his humility.

Contrary to Peter’s first instinct to build these tents to encompass the Divine Glory, we build our churches to reflect the magnificence of God. We are not trying to understand the One who is beyond all human thought. As the Lord says through the mouth of the Prophet:

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. [3]

Instead, we join St. Peter in his worship of the Lord of Glory, learning from his mistakes and his deep love for Christ, which always won out in the end.

Through his intercession, may we always be counted worthy to worship God in his holy churches, and especially in this church of St. Peter, your heavenly patron.

Amen

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