“Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them,

and they that are great exercise authority upon them.

But it shall not be so among you:

but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;

And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:

Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto,

but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28, KJV)

The word the Athenians used for their Assembly was Ekklesia, the same word used in the New Testament for Church
(and it is the greatest philological irony in all of Western history that this word,
which connoted equal participation in all deliberation by all members,
came to designate a kind of self-perpetuating, self-protective Spartan gerousia -
which would have seemed patent nonsense to Greek-speaking Christians of New Testament times,
who believed themselves to be equal members of their Assembly.)

- Thomas Cahill, Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

God Grant Us Fearless Bishops Who Call for Repentance

Moderator's Note: Posted from the Orthodox Reform Web site (http://www.orthodoxreform.org/) and with permission from Fr. Thomas Hopko. (http://orthodoxreform.org/topic/reflection/fearless-bishops/)

In light of recent sexual misconduct cover up allegations, we are mindful of our need for holy leaders. December 9th’s Prologue from Ochrid reading by Saint Nikolai Velimirovich reminds us of Orthodox Saints who defended the weak and fearlessly called for repentance. God grant us again leaders in our day of such character. Saint Nikolai’s December 9th Reflection says:

Fear of God drives all fear from the hearts of men. In every great hierarch of the Orthodox Church, we see meekness and fearlessness wonderfully united.

St. Nicholas grabbed the sword of the executioner and pulled it away so that innocent men would not be beheaded.

St. Chrysostom reproached the Empress Eudoxia for her misdeeds without consideration for the unpleasantness and danger to his own life, to which he was exposed as a result.

And there are many, many other examples similar to this: Emperor Valentinian the Elder, upon hearing of Ambrose’s stern criticism of him, said: “I knew of your fearlessness; that is why I helped you to be chosen as bishop. Correct our faults as the Law of God teaches, and heal our unrighteousness.”

When Valentinian the Younger, at the instigation of his mother Justina, an Arian, ordered that the cathedral church in Milan be yielded to the heretics, Ambrose shut himself in the church with the faithful and would not come out for three days. He sent a message to the emperor and empress that, if they desired his death, he was prepared at any moment “here in the church to be run through either by the sword or spear.” Hearing this, the emperor and empress withdrew their decree. When a riot occurred in Thessalonica, at which time about seven thousand people were beheaded by the decree of Emperor Theodosius the Great, Ambrose became so enraged at the emperor that, when the emperor visited Milan and wished to enter the church, the saint forbade him. The emperor said to Ambrose: “Even David sinned and was not deprived of God’s mercy.” To this the bishop replied: “As you have imitated David in sin, imitate him also in repentance.” The emperor was ashamed, turned back and repented bitterly of the sin he had committed.

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