SUNDAY OF ORTHODOXY – FIRST WEEK OF FASTING; Homily by Metropolitan Jonah

Biblical Readings Heb 11:24-26,32-40, Jn 1:44-52

‘’Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, we have found the one whom Moses wrote about in the book of the Law and whom the prophets also wrote about. He is Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth. 46 Can anything good come from Nazareth? Nathanael asked. Come and see, answered Philip. 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, he said about him, Here is a real Israelite; there is nothing false in him! 48 Nathanael asked Him, How do you know me? Jesus answered I saw you when you were under the fig tree before Philip called you. 49 Teacher, answered Nathanael, you are the Son of God! You are the king of Israel. 50 Jesus said, Do you believe just because I told you I saw you when you were under the fig tree? You will see much greater things than this! 51 And He said to them, I am telling you the truth, you will see heaven open and God’s angels going up and coming down on the Son of Man.”

We call this day Lord’s Sunday of Orthodoxy (right or true worship). The worship of One God in His three persons, Father, Word, Holy Spirit, as was revealed to Old Israel and to New Israel, throughout the struggles which are demonstrated by Scriptures, hymns, and icons. Dt 18:15-19.

“Some painters paint Christ as lamb, and the Forerunner Baptist pointing his finger to that lamb (Jn 1:29). Onwards, however, it should not be done so by the iconographers. These ones should paint Christ as perfect Man, in accordance to the human character, so that we may arrive at the remembrance of His policy in body, the passion as well as the death, and through these events to the salvation of the whole world… Because, we honor the old types of the Law like icons of the true Gospel and grace in Christ…” (Canon 82 of the Sixth Ecumenical Synod in AD 680). Therefore, you Orthodox painters never paint Christ the Lord, when depicted as a lamb. This is objected to by the Sixth Ecumenical Synod.

Secondly, to esteem appropriately the meaning of our lesson today, we have to compare the passage of Epistle (Heb 11:24-26,32-40) to the passage of Gospel (Jn 1:44-52). For both emphasize the same virtue of faith, as inclusive virtue that balances the life of human beings. Remember that, in brief, this virtue is defined as the “power of free will (person) to accept truth as truth and to expel falsehood as falsehood”. Please, read and study the whole chapter of Hebrews 11 and the chapter of John 1. Faith occupies a great part of all virtues, for humans to inherit immortality or eternal life, especially when God is preferred before anything else.

This time, as careful readers, we would like you to recognize the following problem. Although the traditional passage of today, from Evangelist John, is defined, to begin with, verse 44and end with verse 52, there exists not verse 52 in our English Bible (and Luganda)! Then what is the correct state of this important chapter? Answer. You cannot solve this problem unless you pay a visit to the original text in the Greek language. In the original text, the present verse 38 is split into 38 and 39; what makes the existing as verse 39 (in English, Luganda…) to be verse 40, and 40 to be 41, etc., till verse 51 becomes 52.

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