In this video recording, Archbishop Christophoros from Jordan talks about the Sunday of Orthodoxy, the first Sunday of the Great Lent and the value of icons and the deformation of Christ’s image in us. This is a sermon recorded in March 13th 2022 by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese – Amman – Jordan.
English translation by Waad Rabahie
Video source: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese – Amman – Jordan
Everything in the Church is alive for us. We don’t have wood, stone, or dry icons. Everything in the church is alive through the life-giving Holy Spirit.
We died, that’s why we see everything insensible. Even our fellow humans became insensible to us, because we stopped seeing them with the spirit, through the Holy Spirit. But everything becomes alive when we have the Holy Spirit, when we have the Holy Spirit in us, everything becomes alive. That’s why the Church has never been stones. It’s living icons of saints, of the fallen asleep and the living people. All of us together are alive in the Risen Christ.
This is the true freedom. It is to transcend the barrier of death and have eternal life. It is the first Sunday of Lent which is the Sunday of Orthodoxy. We all know the Seventh Ecumenical Council which affirmed the doctrine of the Church regarding icons, the belief of the Church regarding icons. And the Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, after a war against icons that lasted almost 100 years, they affirmed through the Holy Spirit that we, in the Church, don’t worship the wood of icons, we venerate the icons, while we worship only the One God in three persons.
And we bow in front of icons, a venerating bow not a worshiping bow. We venerate icons, but worship the One God in three persons. That’s why in Church we have icons and not statues. But today as we lift up and venerate the holy icons and confirm the faith of the Church through the Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, we have two things to do.
The first one is to hold on to our Orthodox “of the right opinion” faith, which is the faith of the Fathers and the ancestors. Because we are in times when they don’t want us to belong to the true faith. They want to confuse the person more than already confused, through merging all into an unknown thing. All is one… all whoever they are… And by making “belief in Christ” a title and saying “whoever believes in Christ is a Christian”. No, my children. Our fathers and antecedents and the Church didn’t teach us that. There’s faith. There’s dogma. And this dogma is the foundation of how we live and how we meet the neighbor, how to love the neighbor, how to worship God, how to reconcile with ourselves, how to repent, and how to pray. It’s an entire system, till we reach the purpose of our life which is salvation. So dogma and faith is not a secondary thing. It’s an important matter!
The second point is to preserve the icons in our houses, in our hearts. It’s essential for the icons to be the lead in our schools and houses. Many times we see our children or society giving value to valueless things, for example, hanging football players’ and singers’ photos in many places. While we Christians should have the icons in the center of the house and it’s a blessed thing to stand before icons daily and make the sign of the cross and prostrate before them. And we make the sign of the cross correctly, not in an incorrect way. It’s important for the sign of the cross to be correct. We make the sign of the cross in front of the icons, we pray in front of the icons, we light a candle and burn incense in front of the icons. That’s how the Christian house should be, lighten up by prayers, by repentance, and by spiritual life. Here, my children, as we speak about the Sunday of Orthodoxy and veneration of the icons, it is very important to notice our relationship with our fellow humans who are the living icons of God. It is a very important matter. Our fellow human who is the living icon of God… It is important that our view of man to be real. Many times our view of humans is a superficial view or a view that includes personal interest or includes beauty and many other things that I don’t have the time to mention now, but you understand what I mean.
It’s important that the image of man to be a right image, the image of woman to be a right image, and the image of the child and the youth: girls and boys, who all have the image of God. We live in confusing times. And what is the concept of freedom to us?
Is it freedom if it leads you to slavery? Freedom sets you free to reach the Kingdom of Heaven and live eternally with Christ. Freedom is to transcend the barrier of death and to rise with Christ. This is what freedom is. When you are free you can transcend the barrier of death. So when death comes you won’t die. This is the freedom. Because you are associated with the Risen Christ. While the things being presented to us are forms that have been plotted cleverly, but they lead to slavery.
My children, I wish you a blessed fasting. And I encourage you: fasting is important. Don’t think that fasting is not important. Fasting cultivates the soul and the will and helps the person to proceed spiritually. I wish you a fasting season full of grace, blessings, and holiness!