Homily by His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon
on the Feast of St. Nicholas of Myra
at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church
Flushing, New York - December 6, 1998
My beloved faithful of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church,
On this glorious morning, when we have gathered together as one Greek Orthodox Christian family to honor the patron saint of your church-community, I greet all of you with the joy of the feast.
Truly, St. Nicholas himself rejoices with us today, for he now lives and reigns in the full presence of his Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ, for Whom we have come together in this holy and Divine Liturgy. From a small town in Asia Minor to the shores of the new world, across sixteen centuries, the memory and meaning of his life lives on in the hearts and minds of faithful of this church and countless others.
Think of how many churches have been named in his honor.
Consider how many times the story of his life and accomplishments has been told.
Marvel at the sheer number of icons that have been painted depicting his holiness.
Why? How can this be so? What power, what force, what energy could so infuse the history of this bishop of the ancient Christian Church into the history of the world?
No other power, than the power of love.
No other force, than the compulsion of joy that love unveils.
No other energy, than the divine energy of the Holy Spirit, Who as the hand of God, writes the last word in the history of the world.
For St. Nicholas is remembered, here and in all the world, because he made, in a concrete and manifest way, the love of God, the love of our Lord Jesus Christ, real in the life and experience of the world of his day.
St. Nicholas proved by the example of his life that he was truly the manifestation of his name - “Niko-laos”, the “victory of the people”, for he showed the triumph of good over evil, of hope over despair, of love over hatred. We all know the stories. How he rescued the maidens; how he saved the young men from death. And if any of you have ever known any men of sea-faring ways, you will know why on every ship there is an icon of St. Nicholas. You see, as much as he was a fountain of mercy in his lifetime, after his repose, his holy relics were made an ever-flowing fountain of healings.
As with so many other Saints of our Church, his humility in life was honored by his Lord, for God granted that his lifeless relics -- his bones -- be endowed with miraculous powers of healing. But for eyes that see without faith and for ears that hear without hope, the report of such miracles is thought to be unreasonable, irrational, even idle tales. They look upon the bones of the Saints and say: “How can life come from death?!”
But for the believer, for the Christian who has reached deep within to experience the Mystery of his or her own Baptism and incorporation into the Body of Christ, finding life where the world finds death is the beginning of faith. Believing in a God Who can die on a Cross as a sacrifice for the life of the world, and rise from the tomb as the Conqueror of death, is the most important knowledge they will ever know. Knowing that God loves them and all the world with a perfect love that can only be found in Him, is the only life truly worth living.
My beloved spiritual children of St. Nicholas:
If there is any question that the greatness and fame of your patron Saint compels you to ask yourselves today, it is this -- “Do you believe that life can come forth from death?” Can you accept that God so loves the world and so loves you that the miracle of this Saint is your miracle as well? Can you live your life in the light of the same love that shines forth in the Icon of St. Nicholas we behold in this sanctuary this morning?
Ultimately, for each and every one of us, the answer to this question is the only answer that will ever satisfy the hunger of our souls. Whether we be priest or layman, bishop or archbishop, serving the church with the most humble of offering or, like this young man standing before us today, sacrificing our life to the service of the Church, the answer to the meaning of life is always the same. Whatever else we may employ to fill up our lives: money, power, fame, prestige, status -- even family and friends -- all these and more never satisfy the thirst within us for the fullness of life that only God can quench. And quench it He will, if we will only allow Him.
St. Nicholas, that wonder-working Bishop of Myra, found the answer. His life was drenched with the answer. And because his love for God and his love for his fellow man was genuine and the truest expression of his own life, the fountain of love begun at his birth is still gushing forth with the miracles of love.
The source of all the healings that have come about through his intercession and the presence of his Holy Relics is easy to recognize. It is nothing else than the pure love of God. Only love can bring about healing in our person-- healing of the human heart, healing of the soul, healing of the mind, healing of the body. And only love can bring about healing in the community of man -- healing in our families, healing in relationships, healing in the community, healing among nations.
My beloved friends, as we honor the memory of this great father and Saint of our Church with our hymns of praise, extolling the riches of his poverty and heights of his humility, let us also imitate his love for God and love for his fellow man. Let us embrace his way of life as our own. And we shall find that we too shall be endowed with the riches of God, and that healing shall come about in our own lives, even as it continues to flow forth from his.
May our Lord Jesus Christ bless each and every one of you this morning, and, through the intercessions of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, may He ever protect and bless the wonderful community.