THE HOLY FATHERS RECEIVERS OF THE DIVINE LIGHT
“You are the light of the world.”
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,
The Lord, in the course of teaching His disciples and followers on the mount, pointed out to them that all who believe in Him are the light of the world. However, how can we comprehend and interpret this when He Himself on another occasion taught and stated about Himself: “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8: 12)?
It is necessary to emphasise here that Jesus Christ, in accordance with what we recite and confess in the Symbol of Faith, is the source of light: “Light from light, true God from true God”. He Himself is self-illuminating whereas we the faithful members of the church become the light of the world because of our connection and our relation with Jesus Christ. Our light is lent to us and given to us through grace and not because we are entitled to it. We, ourselves, are illumined by someone else. We understand this somewhat better if we bear in mind the planetary system. The sun, for instance, has its own light and thus is called ‘self-illuminating’. The moon, however, receives its light from a reflection and is called ‘illumined by some other source’, the sun.
The Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ, is light in His nature. He sends forth light. He is the projector of light. His presence illumines the whole of the universe. For this reason in the hymn of the Easter canon we sing: “Now the whole of the universe is filled with light, heaven and earth and the underworld”. Through the resurrection of the Lord, everything has become full of light: heaven and earth and the underworld.
In the dialogue in which our Lord had with His secret disciple Nicodemus, we read as follows: “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3: 19) These words remind us that Jesus Christ, through His incarnation, came to earth in order to approach the fallen man, to lead him to salvation. However, He was not received by the whole of humanity. Some of them welcomed Him and others rejected Him and persecuted Him. He Himself associated with those who welcomed Him and walked away from those who rejected Him because He respected and respects the freedom of the will of every man.
In the course of over two thousand years in the Church’s life, the Holy Fathers of all centuries were “the light of the world”. How do we know this? When the Church needed their service to emerge, to defend and to record its correct teaching, they were present with stamina and boldness. Guided by the Holy Spirit they composed the decisions of the Ecumenical Councils and they struggled to persuade the faithful to put these into practice in their soul and body.
Today the Church commemorates the 630 God-bearing Fathers who participated in the Fourth Ecumenical Council and presented their orthodox teaching. This Council took place in Chalcedon near Constantinople, in the year 451 A.D. following the invitation of the Emperors Marcian and Poulcheria. The Synod had as its task to deal with Monophyticism. The leaders of the monophysite teaching were the Archimandrite of Constantinople, Eftychis, and the Patriarch of Alexandria, Dioskoros.
The Synod in the volume which concludes its teachings, taught about the Person of Jesus Christ that the two natures, human and divine, co-exist: “unchanged, inseparable, unaltered, undivided and non-confused” in the Person of Jesus Christ, Who we believe and preach as perfect God and perfect man. Each nature maintains its own characteristics. The human nature submits to the divine whereas the divine allows the human nature to implement its own rights.
In Chalcedon there were the relics of Saint Euphemia the Great Martyr. After mutual agreement, the two sides placed the volumes of their teaching on her relics and prayed. The following day when they opened the coffin where the relics lay, the volume of the teaching of the orthodox was in Saint Euphemia’s hands on her bosom, whereas the teaching of the Monophysites lay by her feet. This was considered as the answer from the Saint that the teaching of the orthodox side was approved whereas the Monophysite teaching was rejected.
Chalcedon today comprises one of the four Sees of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Turkey which still has some faithful. The holy relics of St Euphemia are laid in a coffin in the Patriarchate Church of St George in Fanar. Therefore, the pilgrims and the people who visit the Patriarchate have the opportunity to pay their homage to the holy relics of St Euphemia.
Our Ecumenical Patriarchate experienced and still lives under many difficulties. However, it continues carrying with patience, like another Simon of Cyrene, the cross of Christ, preaching the truths of the Gospel to those who live near and those who live far away and sends the Light of Christ to the minds, the hearts and the souls of people. Amen!