July 3, 2023

Homily for the Epistle Reading on the Fourth Sunday After Pentecost (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

Homily for the 4th Sunday of Pentecost

"The Wages of Sin is Death" (Romans 6:23)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The passage that we heard today in the apostolic reading - "the wages of sin is death" - is very important, in order to understand what sin is and how the person who sins feels. We have heard it many times, and it is a phrase known to those who often read Holy Scripture.

The word "wages" (οψώνια) denotes the payment, the ration, the salary that the emperor gave to the soldiers. That is why Saint John the Forerunner exhorted the soldiers: "Be content with your wages" (Luk. 3:14), that is, do not take various goods from your fellow men, but be content with what the emperor or the king gives you.

The fruits of sin are the results of sin, which sin gives to those who commit sin, and these are death. Here is implied the sin of the First-formed, Adam and Eve, who sinned, disobeyed God's commandment and immediately death entered; first spiritual death, the separation of man from God, and then physical death, the separation of the soul from the body. The holy Fathers teach that after committing the sin with pleasure (ηδονή), then grief (οδύνη), deep pain, entered the life of man. Thus in human life pleasure and pain are always intertwined. Some sins are associated with pleasure and others with pain.

What happened to Adam and Eve is always repeated in our lives every time we sin. The payment of sin, that is, its results, is spiritual death. When we speak of spiritual death, we mean the separation of man from God, Who is true life. This spiritual death is associated with sadness, pain, despair, the absence of meaning in life.

The terrible thing is that our Forefathers, when they sinned, when they disobeyed God's commandment, did not know what it means to be separated from God, they could not imagine what would happen after committing the sin, while we know from our experience what sin causes us, and yet we repeat it. Even if we know what wounds sin creates in our soul, we still commit it. This is how it is explained that sin is preceded by a darkening of the nous, spiritual blindness, and then comes grief, pain. Then, we forget the pain, "the wages of sin", and we commit it again. It is a vicious circle.

Every sin is a spiritual death, that is, one is deprived of God, Who is true life. Man becomes ill and dies spiritually. If there is repentance, man is resurrected from death and begins to live again according to God.

Woe to us, however, if this spiritual death is eternal, that is, if man continues, as long as he lives biologically, to be dead to God and in this state depart from this world. Then will be applied the word of the Apocalypse about the second death (Revelation 6:14), which is the most terrible death, the final separation of man from God.

Many people are afraid of biological death, they tremble when some disease appears, lest it lead them to death, but they are not afraid of spiritual death, although they know the pains of death that Adam's sin caused to the whole human race. Every time we commit a sin, we should fear the spiritual death that follows, and even more fear that this death is eternal, that the second death, which is more painful, will follow.

The Apostle Paul, who spoke about "the wages of sin is death", goes on to say that "the gift of God is eternal life." The gift is opposed to death, it is eternal life "in Christ Jesus our Lord." Thus, on the one hand, there are "the fruits of sin", death, and on the other hand, the gift of God, which is eternal life in Christ Jesus.

Many times in our lives we have experienced the energy and pain of spiritual death, which are the "wages of sin". However, we should also try the gift of God, which is eternal life. We should turn away from death and savor life.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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