On Sunday, September 3, 2023, His Eminence Metropolitan Ambrosios of Korea and Exarch of Japan performed the Divine Liturgy in Tokyo with Father Paul Koroluk. In his sermon, the Metropolitan said the following:
Today’s apostolic reading marks the end of St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. At the beginning of the passage, in just a few words, it is as if Paul is summarizing everything he wrote throughout his letter. He tells us: “Awake! Stand firm in the faith! Be brave and strong! May all your actions be inspired by love.” Then he closes his letter with greetings. But before he finishes, he takes the writing feather in his hand and writes his last words with his own hand: “Whoever does not love the Lord Jesus Christ let him be separated from the body of the Church. Maran atha- The Lord is coming.”
In these significant words, Paul describes what is the greatest sin, that whoever commits it is excommunicated and has no place in the Church of Christ.
The Holy Bible teaches us that “the first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Mt. 22:37-38). Failure to observe this God-given commandment is the greatest sin. Why is not loving Christ the greatest sin? For two reasons:
First, because not loving Christ is the greatest corruption of the soul. When a person does you a small favor, you love and thank him. If e.g. a doctor cures you of some disease, you love him for life. And Christ who loves you with the highest love, you do not love him? Christ loves us not with words, but with the sacrifice of Himself. That is why Christ’s love is “red” because it’s a crucified love.
Secondly, not loving Christ is the greatest sin, because Christ is the most beloved Person. Can you imagine if someone shows you a real diamond that sparkles in one hand and in the other shows you a fake stone that shines, and you choose the fake stone instead of the diamond? Christ is the Diamond. It is the precious pearl, worth selling everything to get it (see Mt. 13:45-46). Worldly love is like shining stones. No matter how hard you search, you will not find another person more perfect than Christ. No matter how hard you search, you will not find another face more beautiful than Christ. Therefore, since Christ is the most perfect, the wisest, the holiest, the most beautiful Person, then the first love of our hearts must belong to Christ.
Unfortunately, love for Christ is a rare thing in our time. Other small, earthly, cheap, fake loves have taken the place of love for Christ. But we must not appear ungrateful. Our hearts were not made to beat for others. Every beat of our hearts should be for Christ. The first love, the first love of our hearts must be Christ. Because to Christ belongs all glory, honor, and worship, always, now and forever and ever. Amen.