June 27, 2023

Homilies on the Litany of Completion of the Divine Liturgy - Offering Our Gifts to God (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

The Litany of Completion of the Divine Liturgy 
Offering Our Gifts to God
By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou
Analyzing this year in the Sunday Sermons the "Completions", the prayers, that is, which we address to God during the Divine Liturgy after the Great Entrance and the transfer of the Holy Gifts from the Holy Prothesis to the Holy Altar, we have the opportunity to see other issues that are related to our lives. We see this in the requests of the entreaties to God.

The second entreaty is: "For the precious Gifts here presented, let us entreat the Lord", that is, let us beseech the Lord our God for the gifts we are offering. What are these gifts? It is the bread and wine that are offered to be transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ. They are called "precious Gifts", because already from the Holy Prothesis they have been set apart to become the Body and Blood of Christ.

The bread and wine represent all the material goods we have, but also our whole life. From what we have, we separate these basic elements of life – bread and wine – and offer them to God. The prosphoron is prepared with care and faith, and special wine is gathered, and we offer them to the temple with reverence and love for God. Thus, we all participate in our own way in the Divine Liturgy, each according to his gift. The devout housewife prepares for days to participate in the Divine Liturgy, not only mentally and noetically, but also with the senses, which is completed with the prosphoron. She brings herself to the temple, but also the prosphoron that is part of the material goods.

However, the prosphoron and the wine are not just our gifts that we give to God, but we consider them as God's gifts to us and we offer them back to Him. This is what is said in the phrase of the Priest, when he raises these two material elements: "Your own of Your own we offer to You, in all and for all", that is, we offer You a part of what is Yours, which You have given us, in every place and for all the benefactions You have given us. Thus, everything we have and all our lives are gifts from God to us and to our brethren. We have nothing of our own, everything is a gift from God and we must offer it to Him.

An Orthodox Romanian theologian, the late Father Dumitru Staniloae, said that all creation is God's gift to man, but the gift is always connected to the cross, that is, it constitutes a life of the cross. This means that we should not cling to the gift and forget the One who gave it to us. Thus, every gift has its own cross, since we must not cling to it and forget God. In such a case, God takes the gift from us, so that the degree of our relationship with Him rises to another level.

We are grateful to God for His love, for the gifts He gives us, i.e. the creation, the material goods, our life, our loved ones who surround us, but we must learn to live the way of crucifixion, i.e. not to literally cling to the gifts, but to offer them to God and our brethren, in order to know God Himself.

The Divine Liturgy teaches us to live in this way, since we give the bread and the wine and receive the Body and Blood of Christ, the counter-gift of His love. Thus, we also learn how to consider each person as a gift from God to us, but also ourselves as a gift to God and others, so our communication with people must actually be an exchange of gifts.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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