Sermon by His All-Holiness
the Ecumenical Patriarch
Mr. Mr. Bartholomew
during the lunch on Monday of the Holy Spirit
(13 June 2022)
Most Holy Archbishop of Ohrid Mr. Stephen, together with your honourable company,
Honourable representatives of the fraternal Churches of Jerusalem and Cyprus,
Holy and God-loving brothers Hierarchs,
Your Excellency, Madam Consul,
Honourable Archons officials,
My beloved children in our Lord,
In these past days with gladness and singleness of heart (Acts 2:46), in our communion with you, we brought to our hearts and minds, the small Community of Jerusalem after the event of the Holy Pentecost, where they were all unanimous and steadfast in prayer and in breaking of bread.
This is the life of the Church. A continuous and extended Pentecost. A flame, which should refreshingly ignite our heart, to preach the magnificence of God. The Church would be inconceivable without its breath, without the zeal, without the sacrifice, without the work, tears and pain, to portray Christ in its children. That promise that we will not be left as orphans is not hope and expectation, but rather truth and assurance. From that promise we all exist. The Comforter came into the World and remains and maintains, unites, regulates and leads the Church.
We were honoured, by the grace and compassion of the Great God and Savior of ours Jesus Christ, to enter from our early youth into the Divine field of the Church with enthusiasm and not just some accidental longing. We were given as teachers and helmsmen of our personal sailing to have significant men and servants of the Son and Word of God. We received an unshakable and uninheritable Kingdom, an unspoiled wealth, a precious pearl, a City blessed and “walled with towers” (cf. Ps. 121:7).
Many and so painful years passed, but our soul did not satiate. It still thirsts and hungers for the Lord Jesus Christ and for His Holy Body, the Church. We raise with joy the Cross of the patriarchal office and run with patience to the impending struggle, with steadfast look upon Him. Of course, we are not perfect, because we are also human with all the qualities of our created nature. We do not boast of our virtues, but proclaim God’s benefactions towards us. The mystery of the Church and the eros for the Great Church of Constantinople, magnificent and humble at the same time, inflames our soul. The intertwining of the Cross and the Resurrection, of the work and the rest, of the sowing and the harvest, of the offering and the exhaustion, sustains us. The Great Church of Christ, my brothers and children, is a summary of the wholeness of the Church.
Maybe these perceptions sound excessive and unrealistic to you. Maybe they will be understood as boasting and self-aggrandizement. But, in our heart and mind there is not even a slightest such disposition. We simply present to you in a literal sense only the experience we live.
In these days you experienced the greatness and simplicity of the Great Christ’s Church. You witnessed our kindness. You tasted the sincere love from all of us. You breathed the pure air of Constantinople, not according to the human, but in the theanthropic aspect. “My kingdom is not of this world” (Jn. 18:36). Here the gifts of the Holy Spirit are distributed indivisibly. As much as we give, so much we receive. As much as we exhaust ourselves, so much we renew ourselves. As much as we are offended, so much we forgive. As much as we are attacked, that much we win. As few as we are, as much we abound.
This is the mysterious and special gift of your Mother, of the Great Church of Christ – the love. “Perfect love casteth out fear” (3 Jn. 4:18). We are not afraid of human complications and changes. We love ecclesiastically, that is, Christ-imitating. One thing is showing love, and another is just talking about it. Love has its price, pain, sorrow, because it casts its gaze towards eternity and does not serve only the present.
The life of the Great Church is both very significant and very turbulent. It is interesting, because it is Christ-like. We invite you once again to be disciples and participants of this sacred heritage. Come and receive from the water of the City, so that you could renew and revitalize the Local Church of Ohrid. Now you are given the opportunity to reposition yourself in the events of the Church. Open your wings, high-flyers, and notice the life and deeds of your Mother.
At this hour, we lay our Patriarchal satisfaction, as much as towards the Most Holy brother, the holy Archbishop of Ohrid Mr. Mr. Stephen, so much towards the hierarchy around him as well, because we noticed your good disposition and attitude towards the Great Church of Christ. Also towards the state leaders of North Macedonia, for their maturity and stability.
It would be an oversight here if we do not note with praise the catalytic contribution of the whole brotherhood of the Holy Bigorski Monastery, spiritually guided by the God-loving Bishop of Antania Mr. Parthenius – especially acknowledging his personal efforts – for the whole process of healing and overcoming of this long and terrible schism.
We expect a lot from you all. We hope that you will not betray the hopes of the Church and pray for God’s enlightenment for the future stable regulation and decisive ending of the additional issues that relate to us.
We rejoice for the recently shown good cooperation and fraternal accordance with the most holy Church of Serbia. Certainly, we have to mention that the expressed attitude of the Serbian Church towards its personal granting of autocephalous status dangerously deviate from the traditional practice of our Holy Church of Christ. We honour, therefore, your correct positioning so far regarding this matter and we urge you to show further trust and devotion to the Great Christ’s Church, since you have already started well and in canonical manner with your addressing us with the appeal for ecliton.
We praise you, bless you, and embrace you with love and with great parental care and we raise this glass for the health of all co-diners at this joyous table as well as for the sealing of this remarkable and bright day. Many years to come!