August 29, 2023

Saint John the Forerunner as a Monk and Social Worker (Archimandrite George Kapsanis)

 By Archimandrite George Kapsanis

(Homily Delivered on August 29, 1988)

Today's feast (Beheading of the Honorable Head of the Honorable Forerunner), like every feast of the Honorable Forerunner, is a feast of the whole Church, though it is also a feast for Monks in particular. Because the Honorable Forerunner was the first Monk of the Church and the model and example of every true Monk, for his asceticism, for the love he had for Christ, but also for the spirit of sacrifice that distinguished him.

So when the time came for him to sacrifice himself for the love of God and people, having rebuked the illegitimate king, he did not hesitate to do so. The rebuke he addressed to the king was for the good of the king and the good of his illegitimate wife and the good of the people. For, when the people see their rulers transgressing, what will they also do?

We have similar examples in the history of the Byzantine Church. Saint Theodore the Studite in no way approved the emperor's lawless marriage, becoming an imitator of the Honorable Forerunner.

For, as he says, if we bless and tolerate the emperor's illegitimate marriage, then throughout the empire every man who finds another wife will put away his wife and take another wife. Is this not a sin, for men to cast away those good wives of theirs, to take others? And for the sake of the honorable and good women, Saint Theodore put a stop to the calamity, rebuking the emperor.

Therefore, the holy and Honorable Forerunner is not only an ascetic, he is not only an anchorite, he is not only a prophet, he is also a social worker par excellence. But we see that the sociability of the holy Fathers was based on their asceticism, their self-abnegation and their love for God and people.

Let us always have the Honorable Forerunner before our eyes, so that we can receive courage and inspiration and strength to fight in our daily spiritual and monastic struggle.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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