July 10, 2023

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

 Homily for the 5th Sunday of Pentecost
"The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (Rom. 10:8)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou
The Apostle Paul, as seen in today's apostolic reading, constantly prays for the salvation of the Israelites, who had a zeal for God, but without knowledge, that is, without the right knowledge. And this happens because they sought to be justified by their works, while only God justifies man, through Jesus Christ.

When the Apostle Paul speaks of justification, which is identified with salvation, he refers to the way it is achieved. For this purpose he uses three words: word, mouth and heart. He writes: "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (Rom. 10:8).

All humans speak through the mouth. Words are formulated and articulated with the mouth. At the same time, we also speak internally with the inarticulate language, that is, with the heart and thoughts. This is also called covert speech.

The same happens with the Christian. The Apostle says, using a passage from the Old Testament, that the word is close to the mouth and the heart, and thus the Christian believes with his heart and confesses with his mouth: "For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Rom. 10:10).

These two, the mouth and the heart, mean confession and faith. It is preceded by the heart's belief that Christ is the Savior of the world and of men, that only through Him salvation is achieved in the Church, which is the Body of Christ, and then follows or must follow the confession of faith through the mouth.

This is what all the Saints of our Church did. Living in the Church, they acquired the certainty of the true life that Christ brought into the world, they were spiritually sweetened by the Grace of God and then, when the times required it, the holy Fathers defined the faith and the confessors and the martyrs gave the confession for it, and as a culmination and consequence they also gave their lives for Christ.

During the period of persecution the pagans called on the Christians to deny Christ, but they confessed with vigor and then martyrdom followed. Who cannot confess that Christ is true God, when he was convinced in his heart that He exists, that He is alive and that He is the only Savior of people?

But there are Fathers of the Church who interpret this passage of the Apostle Paul through the experience of prayer. That is, the word of God is close to the mouth and the heart. The Christian must pray both with his lips and with his heart, that is, with his whole being. Here is meant prayer through the mouth and prayer through the heart, noetic prayer or prayer of the heart.

The salvation of man is realized by the "word" of God, the name and the work of Christ and is expressed as an experience of the heart and as a confession of faith. Man confesses the divinity of Christ and sacrifices himself for Him. This is how the holy Apostles, the holy Martyrs, the holy Fathers and all true Christians lived and died, throughout the centuries. They, after Christ and our Panagia, are our glorious role models.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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