Sermon of H.G. Bishop Iakovos of Claudiopolis

On the Monday of first week in Lent we chant a hymn written by St. Theodore of Studion, which says: “…fasting has come, mother of chastity, accuser of sins, advocate of repentance, life of the angels and salvation of men”.

Indeed, the salvation of us people is inseparable to the bodily and spiritual fasting. And fasting is inseparable to the great mystery of the Divine Providence, namely God the Word and our Saviour Jesus Christ, Who received the form of a servant in the womb of the Ever-Virgin Mary the Mother of God.

For this reason, our Holy Church keeps the Service of the Akathist Hymn to our Most Holy Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary in a festive manner during Great Lent. The content of the Akathist refers to the unspeakable mystery of the God’s condescension and of His Divine reconciliation, which means that it refers to the incarnation of Christ.

This is the purpose of the prayer and repentance during the fasting of Great Lent, to “the deification of the form which we have received”, for which St. Gregory of Nazianzus writes: “For that which has not been received is incurable; but the one who is united with God, that can be saved”.

The mystery of the salvation of man is owed to the unspeakable and indescribable contribution of the Most Blessed Theotokos and the gratitude of our Holy Church is addressed to her.

Our Holy Church, my dear brothers and sisters, is the Ark of our salvation, namely of the healing and the freedom in Christ. Christ’s Cross and His Passion on the Cross are the heavenly ladder through which God humbled Himself in Jesus Christ, becoming “obedient unto death, even the death of the cross”. Moreover, Christ’s Cross is the bridge through which we are carried from the death of the passions, of the corruption and sin of this world, to the immortal and eternal life, namely to the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Let us, therefore, entreat the Holy Theotokos that with her intercessions we may be deemed worthy to complete the period of the Great Lent and conclude to the Glorious Resurrection of Christ, in Whom and through Whom we will also be resurrected. Amen.