September 3, 2023

Homily on the Epistle for the 13th Sunday After Pentecost (Metr. George Pavlidis of Nikaia)

Homily on the Epistle for the 13th Sunday After Pentecost 
The Matador
 By Metropolitan George (Pavlidis) of Nikaia

"Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be brave, be strong." (1 Cor. 16:13)

In our time, my beloved, there has been a tremendous confusion and change in the thoughts and feelings of people. Priceless values that supported individuals and peoples in the past are forgotten, the eternal is exchanged for the perishable, character is worn out in modern morbid manifestations. Under the guise of so-called progress, ancient family traditions are betrayed and pure traditions are abandoned. Of course, this situation, perhaps only with a different aspect, would also be present in the time of the Apostles, a fact which then forced the Apostle Paul to write the above significant words to the Corinthians, which, I think, will be very useful to analyze more extensively.

1. "Be watchful"

As then, so today, the life of virtue requires constant vigilance. The enemies are many and strong. Especially the devil, who "prowls about like a roaring lion seeking to devour." That is why the Bible recommends us in many places to be watchful. "Watch and pray, so that you do not enter into temptation," teaches the Lord Himself.

This watchfulness, vigilance, is the best guard which protects our soul from the enemy who comes after us, who appears "as a thief in the night." Today, in fact, as has been said, with the new perceptions of life, with the new ideological movements that are blowing around us, with the contemporary conditions of life, where dishonor wears the clothing of progressiveness, fraud the golden paper of hypocritical nobility, immorality the mask of evolution, and unbelief wields the knife of so-called scientific truth, great attention and vigilance are required, because from moment to moment the enemy can enter the fortress of our soul subserviently and dominate it. And the greater the dangers become, due to the perversion of the times and the deluge of disbelief and corruption, the greater should be our vigilance and the guarding of our psychic treasure. One such treasure is faith.

2. "Stand firm in your faith"

We called faith a treasure. And it is. Because in the course of our life, faith is the torch that directs us to the safe destination. Faith is the weapon with which we defeat the enemy. Faith is the shield, the long shield, as the Apostle Paul says.

Faith is power that has "overcome the world." In this faith, the great Apostle advises us to stand firm and immovable. For whoever has this faith is irresistible. What a great misfortune it is for man to lose his faith! Everything around him then becomes darkness, desolation. Man becomes like an eagle without wings and life is like a journey towards death. Brethren, let us remain firm in the faith, if we truly want our happiness.

3. "Be brave"

Of course, in order to keep the faith and be victorious in this great struggle, it will be necessary to fight with vigor. Virtue requires bravery. Indeed, its path and course have charm, but at the same time, a heroic disposition is also required. Because in the face of the enemy's attacks, the Christian's stance cannot retreat. This is because retreat means death. It is true that sin appears attractive, with charming colors, deceptive. It's like an intoxicating drink, that once you drink it you get dizzy and live in a fantasy world. Sin is a seductress, like the song of the sirens was a seductress. But, later, when the first impressions pass, then all the consequences are manifested. The bitterness, the disappointment, the wreckage, the broken dreams, the ruined plans of the trapped man. Then what?

In life there are different categories of people. To the first belong those who do not fight at all and surrender to the enemy without a fight. It is not worth talking about them. They are a second class of people, who start the fight well, but lack bravery and surrender sooner or later to the enemy. Pity! And there are also the third category of people, who start the fight, who fight bravely to the end and win. This is what the Apostle Paul wants us to do. Be brave and valiant, young men and women! Put on the armor of God. Don't give up your strongholds! Do not betray the venerable and the sacred. Fight bravely, and you will win.

4. "Be strong"

This is the last point of the struggle. We must not forget that we have an invincible Leader, who stands by our side and when He sees that we are in danger, He immediately comes to help us, whispering in our hearts: "Fear not, I am with you."

Yes! When we believe within ourselves that the path we have taken is the best, when our souls are moved by the sacred leaps of virtue and faith, when we make the decision to stay until the end on the ramparts of honor and duty, then our sacred things and our fortresses will not be taken by the enemy. Our flag, which is the symbol of our sacred things and ideals, will not be tolerated by the devil. We will remain upright and invincible on the ramparts, since Christ will be with us, our encourager and defender.

Brethren! Many of us were enlightened with the Christian light from a young age. We have come to know God's law. We were moved by the sanctity of the struggle. Perhaps we were thrown from the first moment into the spiritual battle with enthusiasm and zeal. What did we do? Have we staunchly guarded our spiritual fortresses or surrendered them to the enemy? Was our faith a block of granite or a reed?


In Brazil there grows a plant called "the matador", which means "the killer". This is one of the climbing plants. At first it crawls on the ground, and if it finds any tree near it, it climbs up on it, bursts forth, leaves no branch uncovered, and when it reaches the top, the unfortunate tree is already dry. It is suffocated in the deadly embrace by "the killer".

The same dangerous, insidious and deadly embrace is made by sin on man. It slowly enters us and gradually becomes a possession. Then it becomes the absolute master of our heart. And finally it kills us.

Brethren! We should not suffer this. It will be the greatest calamity in our life. There is a way to avoid it. Let us listen well and apply with precision and fervor the slogan that the Apostle Paul gives us today: "Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be brave, be strong."

Will we want to?

Source: From the book Φως ταις τρίβοις μου. Translation by John Sanidopoulos.

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