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April 13, 2023

Homily for Holy and Great Thursday (Archimandrite George Kapsanis)

By Archimandrite George Kapsanis,
Former Abbot of Gregoriou Monastery, Mount Athos

Today our Church "commemorates" the Lord's Secret Supper, during which the Lord delivered the terrible mysteries of the Divine Eucharist, His Body and Blood, and His words were fulfilled: "Take, eat, this is my Body" and "drink of it all of you, for this is my Blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Mat. 26:26-28).

Thus the Lord left to humanity an ever-flowing source of deification for people, the forgiveness and remission of their sins and their revitalization, in His all-holy Body and Blood. Without them the Church would not exist. Because the Body and Blood of Christ exists, the Church exists. That is why today we celebrate not only the birthday of the mystery of the Divine Eucharist, but also the birthday of the Church. Great is the feast! Great is the gift!

But there is one sad exception. Judas did not remain seated until the mystery of the Eucharist was over, but left, because he was considering betrayal. Afterwards, he repented for what he had done, but also without due repentance, and when he returned, he threw down the thirty pieces of silver and "departed" (Matt. 27:3-5). And the hymn of the Church says that Judas "did not see the Resurrection" (2nd verse of the Praises for Holy Thursday).

This was the drama of Judas. He did not see the Resurrection. While the other disciples - who stayed at the Secret Supper, stayed at the Eucharist, stayed in the Church, although they had difficulties, although they as people fell (remember the apostle Peter, he denied the Master, but he did not abandon the Master, because he sincerelyy repented) – they saw the Resurrection. The miserable Judas meanwhile could not see the Resurrection.

And what happened to the disciples of that time, is happening to us today. Those of us who remain in the Church struggling, repenting, confessing, those of us who try as far as possible to partake of the holy mysteries of the Body and Blood of the Lord, we, with the Grace of God, see the Resurrection, we see the Risen One, because the Resurrection is Christ and Christ is in the Eucharist and in the Church.

But those who leave the Church, those who despise the Immaculate Mysteries or are indifferent to the Immaculate Mysteries, they do not see the Resurrection. And they may carry crosses in their lives, but these crosses are without hope, without resurrection. While Christians' crosses are with hope, they are with resurrection.

Let us take heed of this, brethren. Modern man, because of his pride, does not want to remain in the Church with humility, does not want to partake of the Body and Blood of Christ, and therefore does not experience the Resurrection, as we say in the hymn: "received the experience the Resurrection" (3rd tone, 3rd verse of Sunday Praises). This is because there is no Resurrection outside the Church, outside the mystery of the Divine Eucharist.

Let's ask the Lord to help us all, because we all have weaknesses and the old man is still inside us. To help us, first of all, to deeply and properly appreciate this greatest gift of his love, the mystery of the Divine Eucharist, and secondly, to find us worthy to partake of His all-holy Body and Blood.

Because the more worthily we partake of the Body and Blood of Christ, the more death is defeated within us, and the more we become "children who are illumined of the Church" (Irmos 5th ode 2nd Canon of Pentecost) and of the Resurrection. And we already have resurrection in our lives, and we live the resurrection, and the fear of death has been defeated, and the resurrection for us is not something we wait for in the future age, but it is a reality that has begun in this life.

So God help us. May the Lord Jesus Christ, who benevolently delivered this most holy mystery, guide us all and enlighten us in the awareness of the truth of this holy mystery.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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