On August 2, 2020, the 8th Sunday after Pentecost, the commemoration day of the holy Prophet Elijah, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, officiated the Divine Liturgy at the Church of the Holy Martyrs Michael and Theodore of Chernigov at the Patriarchal Metochion in Moscow.
At the end of the service, the metropolitan addressed those present with a sermon, in which he talked about the miracle of the five loaves and two fish from yesterday’s Gospel reading, and continued:
“A wonderful and miraculous thread stretches from the Old Testament to the New Testament, which connects not only the prophets from the Old Testament with the Lord Jesus Christ, but also connects all of us with both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Because the entire history of the Church, which began in the Old Testament era and continues today, is filled with the miracles of the presence of God. When God pleases, He performs such signs and wonders which we should see as His messages that are addressed to us.
These miracles can be very different. These miracles are not always performed in response to our prayer. Sometimes these are signs of God that occur unexpectedly for us, and the Lord wants us to interpret them for ourselves and hear His voice in them.
Christian life begins with most important miracle which is the miracle of the descent of the ‘old man’ into the water of the baptismal font and the departure from there as the renewed man, to whom the Kingdom of God has been granted. So that this man would embody the Divine ideal in his earthly life which was first outlined by the prophets of the Old Testament and then by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, the only begotten Son of God. Our entire Christian life is the realization of the potential that we received in the baptismal font, when we denied Satan and united with Christ, when the Holy Spirit descended first on the water, and then on each of us, and renewed us, giving us strength to fight against evil in ourselves and in the world around us and to follow the Lord Jesus Christ.
Another miracle that is constantly happening before our eyes, in which we can participate whenever we want it, is the miracle of the transformation of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. This is not the miraculous multiplication of five loaves and two fish, but the transformation of the consecrated bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ in the Sacrament of the Eucharist. We eat not just earthly food, which more than five thousand hungry people were fed, when Christ, in order to feed them, turned a small amount of food into a large one. We eat the very Body and Blood of the Incarnate God, uniting with Him spiritually and bodily through communion of the Holy Mysteries of Christ.
These are the miracles that take place before our eyes. The Lord speaks to us through these miracles, as well as through the entire structure of church life, through the Gospel readings that we hear every time we come to the Divine Liturgy, through prayers that are read and sung in the church, through church singing, icons and images of saints, who look at us from the walls of churches, and through the events of our lives, which sometimes are a terrible omen, when the Lord wants to warn us, reminding us of what He expects from us and what He calls for.
Over the past months, we all, each in his own way, have experienced the events that are taking place around us. Someone has already departed to another world, someone has been greatly or mildly ill and recovered, someone has suffered from this virus without even noticing it, and someone has bypassed this virus. But each of us, probably, thought about the value of human life these days more than once, thought about the fact that life was given to us once and no one is insured either from illness, or from sudden death, or from suffering, and that not only our life , but the life of our loved ones is in the hands of God.
Passing through this experience, we must realize the value of human life – of our loved ones and the people around us. But at the same time, we should not forget that life, and death, and health, and illness are in the hands of God. Therefore, with faith and hope in the will of God, invoking His all-powerful help, turning in prayer to the Most Holy Theotokos and the saints from the Old Testament and the New Testament, whom we venerate and whose help we call, let us remember just as the Lord miraculously lifted up the Holy Prophet Elijah on the fire chariot to heaven, He raises us to heaven too every time we come to the temple of God and partake of the Divine fire and Divine light in the communion of the Holy and Life-giving Mysteries of Christ. We remain on earth in body, but we ascend to heaven in spirit. We continue to live in the earthly world with our body, but our spirit joins in the riches of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Let us thank God for this ineffable gift that we receive in the communion of the Holy Mysteries of Christ. Let us never neglect this gift, and try to partake of the Holy Mysteries of Christ as often as possible, preparing for this with our whole life.
May the Lord protect all of us and our loved ones from all evil, from all illnesses and lead us to His Kingdom of Heaven. Amen”.
Translated by pravmir.com