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Archbishop Makarios of Australia: “We become strong when we pass through the furnace of trials”

On Saturday, 29 June 2024, the Feast Day of The Holy Glorious and All-Praised Leaders of the Apostles, Peter and Paul, His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia liturgised at the Church of Saint Stylianos in the suburb of Gymea in Sydney, where the left hand side chapel of the Church celebrates as it is dedicated to the memory of the All-Praised Leaders of the Apostles, Peter and Paul. His Eminence was welcomed with heartfelt words by the Parish Priest, Father Constantine Varipatis, who conveyed the feelings of filial love and respect of the parishioners of Saint Stylianos to their Chief Shepherd and wished him well for the recent completion of five years of his pastoral ministry in Australia. ” We Thank you for the love you show to all of us, for your self-sacrificing ministry and for the valuable spiritual guidance you provide us”, Fr. Constantine said, among other things, followed by the presentation to the Archbishop, by the youth of the Parish, of a commemorative gift for the joyous day of the anniversary of his enthronement.

In his response, His Eminence, after thanking everyone for the expressions of love towards him, reminded that in the Orthodox Church everything positive and beneficial which is achieved, is not due to one person alone, but to the unity and cooperation of all its members, the Archbishop, the Bishops, the clergy, the deacons and the faithful who work for the glory of God. “This is why we are called to be united,” he pointed out, “otherwise we will not be able to journey towards salvation.”

Then, the Archbishop analysed the Gospel and Epistle readings of the day, focusing in particular on the trials, hardships and sufferings endured by the Apostles while carrying out the sacred task of spreading Christ’s teaching to the world. His Eminence recalled, among other things, that of the Twelve Apostles, only Saint John the Theologian did not die a martyr’s death, although he too suffered greatly during his earthly life.

Also, presenting to the congregation the relevant accounts of the Apostle to the Nations, Saint Paul from his second letter to the Corinthians, he discerned that, although the trials described are particularly painful and hard, Saint Paul narrates them with stoicism, as if they were an inevitable part of the life of every human being. His Eminence delved into the phrase “for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9), to point out that this is a revolutionary speech of the Apostle, who informs modern Christians that there is no value in worldly pursuits, such as the acquisition of power and money, fame and secular acclaim. On the contrary, the message of the Apostle Paul, as he pointed out, is that “we are perfected and made strong when we pass through the furnace of trials”.

Finally, inspired by the Gospel passage, the Archbishop analysed the theme of canonical priesthood and apostolic succession, and concluding his speech he wished the faithful to have the blessing of the Leaders of the Apostles and to imitate them in terms of the love and zeal they had for the Christ. “Let our lives be full of zeal not for the things of the world, which are corruptible, transient and ephemeral, but for the things that are honest, holy and blessed,” he urged in closing.

It is noted that present at the Holy Altar, joined together in prayer, were Their Graces, Bishop Iakovos of Miletoupolis and Bishop Bartholomew of Charioupolis.