Homily – Unity in Liturgy

Third Sunday after Pentecost
Romans 5:1-10; St. Matthew 6:22-33

This Summer, during the time of shortened homilies, I am dedicating this brief time to the topic of the Eucharistic Liturgy as the “common work of a thankful people” and how it is designed to bring us into a deeper salvific and sanctifying relationship with Jesus Christ..

A couple of weeks ago, I spoke on how the length of the Liturgy is a blessing to those who have prepared themselves for it, but a difficult chore to those who have not.  Those who have not developed the capacity to focus through following an Orthodox prayer rule and who have allowed (perhaps even encouraged) their minds to become addicted to amusing distractions will not suddenly develop the capacity to appreciate worship on Sunday morning.  This is a problem because this “first offering” of our time – this liturgy – is a foundation of our faith and the way God has chosen to speak with us and change our lives towards perfection.

Today I would like to continue on a similar theme, looking at the way liturgy brings us into a common life in Christ.

There are many times in the Liturgy when this mysterious union we have with one another is invoked:

  • Towards the end of every litany we pray “let us commend ourselves and one another and all our , to Christ our God“. 
  • Before the Little Entrance, the priest prays; “Lord, You have given us grace to offer You with these our common prayers“.
  • And, before we pledge ourselves to our common creed, the priest (or deacon) leads us saying; “Let us love one another to that with we may confess:”
  • Then, at the end of the anaphora, we say “Amen” when the priest prays; “and grant that with and we may glorify and praise Your most honorable and majestic Name:
  • And, before Communion, the people proclaim the truth that really brings it home; “One is Holy, One is Lord, Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father.  Amen.”
The life that we share – our life with one voice, one heart, and one mind, – is our life in Christ.  It is the only one that brings perfection and it is proclaimed and brought about in and through the Eucharistic Liturgy.  But just as with those who have not developed mindfullness by living a Christian life throughout the week find the Liturgy “boring”, those who have not devoted themselves to relationships in the Christian manner throughout the week will find sharing even this brief amount of time with their fellow parishioners tiresome.
People who decide how much time and energy to give to others based on what those people do for them are not living the Christian life; they are not developing relationships in the Christian manner.  For the Christian, every encounter – even with dull, mean, and ungrateful people – is an opportunity to share grace.  This develops the sort of patience and charity true civilization requires.  Without it, community life is selfish and unedifying.  People may enjoy it, but it is the self-indulgent enjoyment that brings condemnation – not holiness – to the soul.
It is a common theme within Orthodoxy that the source of all goodness brings pleasure to those who love goodness and pain to those who do not.  The Liturgy is where this encounter takes place.  Let us spend our lives learning to enjoy the Liturgy so that we can enjoy an eternity with the One who speaks to us – and unites us – through it.