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Bishop Paul delivers homily at Chicago Sunday of Orthodoxy celebration

ELMHURST, IL [MW Diocese Communications] — His Grace, Bishop Paul, delivered the homily at the Pan-Orthodox Sunday of Orthodoxy Vespers celebration sponsored by the Orthodox Christian Clergy Association of Great Chicago at Saint Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church here on Sunday, March 20, 2016.

Bishop Paul delivers homily at Chicago Sunday of Orthodoxy celebrationBishop Paul opened by sharing a verse from the fourth ode of the festal Canon:  “We rejoice with holy joy, seeing the churches of God bright with the sacred icons of Christ and the Theotokos.”  He went on to reflect on the words of Saint Paul in Colossians 1 and 2, in which the Apostle reveals that Jesus Christ “is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation.…  For in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.…  For in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.”  By His Incarnation, we are brought “to fullness of life in Him, Who is the head of all rule and authority.”  While the icons depict Christ’s visible humanity — something made possible by His Incarnation, inasmuch as He took on our human nature in its entirety — they ultimately lead us to faith in His divinity.  As Our Lord said to Philip, “He who has seen me has seen the Father” [John 14:9].  Having become witnesses to this, we are challenged to embrace Christ with the same confession uttered by the doubting Thomas after the Resurrection:  “My Lord and my God” [John 20:28].  Thomas, said Bishop Paul, “touched Christ’s humanity and confessed His divinity.”

The icons, Bishop Paul continued, enable us to do likewise.  They “describe this confession of faith visually.”  While icons depicting the Theotokos and the Christ Child indeed portray Him as an infant, the eyes of faith lead us to see more than a mere child.  Jesus Christ is fully God and fully human — not, as Metropolitan Kallistos Ware would say, “fifty-fifty.”  The fullness of both natures dwells in Him.  And the icons clearly remind us of this, challenging us to renew and restore that same image in ourselves as the People of God.

Bishop Paul concluded by restating his opening passage from the festal Canon, asking whether we, as the Church, shine brightly as “living icons.”

“When people come to our churches, do they see the sacred image of Christ shining brightly in us,” he asked.  “This is the difference as to whether our churches are museums, or places in which a genuine and living faith is discovered.”

Also present at the celebration were His Eminence, Metropolitan Iakovos of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago; His Eminence, Archbishop Nicolae of the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in the Americas; His Grace, Bishop Longin of New Gracanica and Midwestern America of the Serbian Orthodox Church in North and South America; and His Grace, Bishop Sava, retired, of the Serbian Orthodox Church.  Nearly 50 priests and deacons from throughout the region concelebrated at the service, for which the liturgical responses were sung by Chicago’s Pan-Orthodox Choir under the direction of Gordana Trbuhovich.

After Vespers, the host pastor, Priest Andrew Georganas, and the faithful of Saint Demetrios Church welcomed the faithful for refreshments and fellowship.

A gallery of photos may be viewed at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1145699098784042.1073741872.115737288446900&type=3.

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