Homily – A Teaching Liturgy

The 17th Sunday after Pentecost

  • 2 Corinthians 6: 16-7:1
  • St. Matthew 22: 35-46

This week we celebrated a “teaching Divine Liturgy”.  Fr. Anthony stopped at various points throughout the Liturgy to explain what was happening and why.  Glory to God, it was very well received!  The following notes were offered in the bulletin.

An Outline of the Divine Liturgy.
Service of Preparation (Proskomedia): 
The priest prepares prosphora and wine for the service.  Pieces of the bread commemorating the saints and the living and departed of the community are placed on the paten along with the Lamb.  The symbolism evokes the Nativity of Christ.
Liturgy of the Word: 
“Blessed is the Kingdom…”  With this, participants join the angelic hosts and all the members of Christ’s body of all times and places in the extra-dimensional worship that is a foretaste of the eternal banquet that is to come.    
The prayers of the Great Litany bind us together in an active and loving union.  The Antiphons (Psalm 102 & 145, “Only-Begotten Son”, and “The Beatitudes”) are a celebration and reminder of the Truth and Joy of our faith.  Together with the (rarely voiced) antiphonal prayers, these prepare us to encounter the Word of God in the Scriptures, the homily, and eventually, the Eucharist itself.
The Little Entrance begins during the Beatitudes.  The Gospel Book coming out of the altar into the nave evokes the coming of Christ from heaven into the world as a man 2000 years ago (i.e. the Incarnation).  The Prokimen, Epistle, Gospel, and Homily are designed to point our minds towards The Way; just as the music and hymnography are designed to do the same through our hearts.
The Liturgy of the Word ends with the Litany of the Catechumens, when we prayerful fulfill the evangelical imperative and look forward more souls into union with the eternal source of Love.  
Liturgy of the Eucharist: 
During the Great Entrance, the Gifts (i.e. bread and wine) are brought through the nave into the altar.  This reminds us of Christ’s entrance into Jerusalem just before his Passion.  The Cherubic Hymn sung as this time calls us to lay aside all the things that pull us away from this mystical celebration.  
After we have communal affirmed our Orthodoxy (i.e. The Creed), we join Christ as He leads His disciples in the Institution (“Take, Eat”), then ask the Holy Spirit to come and change the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ (“Amen.  Amen.  Amen.”).  From this point on, there can be no doubt that Christ is Among Us!  
We pray the prayer He Himself taught us (“Our Father”), then the Holy Doors are closed as we come forward and prepare ourselves for the greatest revelation when Christ comes amongst and shares Himself with us through the Communion that marks the highpoint of every Christian’s life.  
After Communion, the service finishes with hymns, prayer, and a final blessing.