By His Eminence
Panteleimon, Archbishop of Antinoes

            Man is by nature a social being. He lives, moves, acts and develops within a society of human beings. Right from the beginning of Creation, God Himself noticed, that “is not good for man to be alone upon the earth”, and thus He forms the woman taken out from one of Adam’s ribs, fulfilled the missing flesh and thus presented Eve to Adam, to be a helpmate for him. In other words, God Himself created and then blessed the society of man. Our ancestors, the Greek philosophers, said: “A man, who does not live with other fellow men, either has to be a god or crazy”. 
            The Triune God is social, because He is Three: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God is One in His Essence, but Three in His Hypostases or Persons. (Hypostasis means the way of existence). Among the Three Persons an absolute and perfect harmonious relationship exists. None of the created things in the whole Universe, either visible or invisible, knows that which is of the Father, but only the Son; and no one knows that which is of the Son except of the Father. The Holy Spirit searches the depths of the Father’s Essence.
            The Love of the Three Persons is mutual and it is expressed towards the world, especially towards man. Love is from God, and anyone who loves his neighbor is from God and knows God. He who does not have love, does not know God, because God is Love (1 John 4:7-8). He, who struggles to remain in the love towards his fellow man, partakes of the love of God and God dwells in the heart of that person who has love. For this reason, if God has loved us so much, we also must love one another in a similar manner (1st John 4:11).
            Love is the connection link in our relationships with our fellow man. The question of today’s Gospel reading is: Do we love correctly? Is our love that love which God demands from us, pure and unconditional? Is our love distinguished from the worldly love?    


1st Sunday of St. Luke. (Luke 5:1-11)

By: His Eminence  Metropolitan Panteleimon of Antinoes

            In today’s Gospel reading St. Peter with the rest of the holy Apostles were astonished at the catch of fish which they had caught.  Christ our Lord had sat in St. Peter’s boat and was teaching the people.  The Disciples had worked very hard all night long, but they had caught nothing.  St. Peter at the commandment of Christ let down the net and then God’s blessings came, for "they caught a great number of fish" (Luke 5:6).
Obedience to God’s Will is man’s first and foremost duty.  Second most important is to carry out His Divine Commandments.  The godly man strives to conform himself to whatever God wishes.  Man through obedience to God identifies himself with God, and his will with God’s Divine Will.

            The holy Apostle Peter at the greatest moment of his difficult hours of disappointment and depression, showed obedience to Christ.  The result is obvious.  God blesses the work of all those who struggle with honesty.

            In our daily struggle to survive there are some moments, when we feel let down.  Many times despair and dissolution overcome our hearts, when we hope for some things that do not come right. 

            How many times do we turn to God and not see any results?  Did God not hear our prayers? Is He relaxing in His Heavenly Kingdom and does not care for us? No! The answer to these questions lie in that we must not only turn to God, but we must also learn to trust God.

            St. Peter not only accepted Christ in his fishing boat, but also showed absolute obedience to His commandment.  Without a second discussion he threw the nets into the shallow waters of Gennesaret.  Because of his obedience God blessed his work.

            Now, how many times does it happen in our life that we accept Christ not in our boat, but in our hearts, but we are not obedient to Him?  How many times do we say that we believe in the Lord, but, yet, we have not made the effort to bow and humble ourselves before Him?  How many times do we pray to God, but within our hearts we do not learn to trust Him? How many times do we find ourselves in difficult situations and we ask for God’s help and assistance, but in reality we do not believe in His Providence? How many times do we believe that God will interfere, like magic, to fulfil our wishes?  Finally, how many times, when we see no results of Divine intervention, we turn away from God?

            St. Peter was blessed, because he showed obedience to Christ.  God’s blessings came as the result of Peter’s obedience to His Will.  The miracle at Gennesaret came about because of St. Peter’s faithfulness. St. Peter knew very well, being an experienced fisherman, that there could be no fish in the shallow waters of Gennesaret.  All night long he worked with his collaborafors and, yet, they caught nothing.  But, he showed obedience to Christ’s word and he let down the nets. For Christ’s sake he did not hesitate. He did not say, that ‘We are wasting our time’.  He just obeyed and trusted Christ’s word.


Sunday before the Elevation of the Holy Cross. John 3:13-17.


His Eminence  Metropolitan Panteleimon of Antinoes

A week before the feast day of the Universal Elevation of the Holy Cross, the Orthodox Church prepares the faithful through Scriptural readings, prayer and acts of good deeds to celebrate the event of the finding of the precious and life-giving Cross of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  Among the many symbols of the Christian Faith the Holy Cross is considered the most important.  It is the symbol of Christianity.  It is the symbol of Christ's victory over death.  It is the weapon against all evil forces.  It is the power of the Saints.  It is the flag under which the righteous fought against Satan.
             In the Old Testament we have prefigurations of the Holy Cross.  In the Book of Genesis, the Tree of Life prefigures the Holy Cross (Gen. 2:9).  As the Tree of Life had the power to grant eternal life to Adam, if he ever touched it (Gen. 3:22); likewise the Holy Cross being the new Tree of Life offers eternal life to those who believe in Christ.  Another prototype of the Holy Cross is found in the Book of Numbers (Num. 21:8-9).  Moses, in order to save his people from the deadly bites of poisonous snakes received instructions from God to lift up a bronze serpent, and "it shall come to pass that whenever a serpent shall bite a man, every one so bitten that looks upon it shall live" (Num. 21:8).
            Christ himself uses this prefiguration as an example of Him being lifted up on the Cross.  As all those Israelites who looked upon the bronze serpent were saved from the deadly bites of the viper snakes; likewise whoever turns to Christ with faith as his own Saviour and beholds His Crucifixion will be saved from the deadly bites of Satan.  The bite of sin  and death is cured through the wounds of Christ, as this was foretold by the Prophet Isaiah saying,  "He was a man in suffering, and acquainted with the bearing of sickness, for His face is turned from us:  He was dishonoured, and not esteemed.  He bears our sins, and is pained for us:  yet we accounted Him to be in trouble, and in suffering, and in affliction.  But he was wounded on account of our sins, and was bruised because of our iniquities" (Is. 53:3-5).  "And He, because of His affliction, opens not His mouth: He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is dumb, so He opens not His mouth.  In His humiliation His judgment was taken away: who shall declare His generation?  For His life is taken away from the earth: because of the iniquities of my people He was led to death ... He was numbered among the transgressors; and He bore the sins of many, and was delivered because of their iniquities" (Is. 53:7-8, 12). 


Perfect Love

By St. Kosmas the Aitolos

Perfect love is to sell all your possessions and to give alms, and even to sell yourself as a slave, and whatever you get to give in alms.
In the East there was a bishop from whose province a hundred slaves were taken captive. He sold all of his possessions and ransomed them. Only a child of a widow remained enslaved. What did the bishop do? He shaved off his beard and went and begged the master who held the child to free it and to keep him in its place. And so it happened.
The bishop lived a life of great hardship, but because of his patience God found him worthy of performing miracles. Later his master freed him and he returned to his episcopal duties. It is this kind of love that God wants us also to have. Is there anyone here who has this kind of love? No! Don't sell yourself, sell only your possessions and give alms. You can't do this? Give half, a third, a fourth. You can't even do this? [Then] don't take your brother's bread, don't persecute him, don't slander him.
How do we expect to be saved, my brethren? One thing seems too much for us, the other too bitter. It's true, God is compassionate, but he's also just. He also has an iron rod. So if we want to be saved, we should have love for God and for our brethren.


The Spread of Christianity Through Persecutions

From Jesus Christ's Birth through the Edict of Theodosius
In order to prove the deceit of the claims of neopagans, that supposedly Christians prevailed through persecuting gentiles, we will show through numbers the way in which Christians increased and conquered the Roman Empire, despite the constant persecutions that they suffered for three continuous centuries by idolaters and their Jewish collaborators.
c. 4 BC: Birth of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
c. 27 AD: Beginning of Jesus Christ's public preaching.
At the time the Roman Empire was as follows: Population: 33,000,000 (50% slaves). The Jews in the empire numbered 2,300,000 (7% of the empire's population), mostly proselytes to Judaism. Palestine's population was 580,000 Jewish and 233,000 gentiles.
c. 30 AD: Crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Christ. His commandment is given: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19) .
There were approximately 4,000 believers in Christ in all of Palestine during the days of Jesus’ appearances after His resurrection.
Pentecost. After the miraculous descent of the Holy Spirit and all that they had witnessed, 3,000 Jewish proselytes from every place of the known world were baptized as Christians, and then departed taking the Christian faith to Jews in all the places from which they had come (Acts 2:41). (Palestine, Israel, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Libya, Syria, Italy etc.)
c. 34 AD: Martyrdom of the protomartyr Stephen, and persecution of the Christians of Judaea by the Jews. The persecution forces Christians to flee to other areas and to spread the Gospel. First Christians in Ethiopia from the Ethiopian eunuch, and in Samaria from Philip. Conversion of Saul to the Christian faith, who is then named Paul.
c. 35 AD: Multiplication of Christians in Judaea and Samaria (Acts 9:31). First Christians in Armenia.
36 - 40 AD: Entry of gentiles into Christian faith starting with Cornelius. Vast inflow of Roman Italian citizens from Peter in Caesarea (Acts 10:1-48). Christians in Antioch, Greece and Rome. 
42 AD: Multitudes believe in Alexandria, Phoenicia and Cyprus (Acts 11:21).
43 AD: The number of Christians in Antioch (with Paul's and Barnabas' help) are 500. They are named Christians for the first time (Acts 11:21).
44 AD: Persecution of Christians in Jerusalem by the Jews, by king Herod Agrippa I. Beheading of James. Imprisonment and escape of Peter.
c. 50 AD: Jews and Christians are exiled from Rome. Paul preaches in Macedonia, Achaea and Asia (Acts 16:6).
52 AD: The Apostle Thomas preaches in India.
57 AD: Rome had approximately 3,000 Christians, 5 congregations. Total population of Rome: 800,000.
c. 60 AD: First Christians in Dalmatia and Illyria (Yugoslavia).
61 AD: Start of the Celtic Church.
63 AD: Mark's Martyrdom in Bokalia, near Alexandria.
64 AD: The great fire of Rome. 1st great persecution of Christians by Nero. Apostles Peter and Paul martyr together with thousands of Christians. The historian Tacitus (born around 56 AD) states that Nero, in order to remove himself from all suspicion, accused the Christians of the fire, who then “were torn by dogs and died” and “were burned by being thrown to the flames to be used as night lighting, when daylight diminished. Nero offered his gardens for this spectacle” (Chronicles, Book XV, para. 44). 
66 AD: Anti-Jewish riots and organized massacres of Jews in Egypt. 50,000 were killed in Alexandria and 60,000 elsewhere.
67 AD: Vespasian, together with 60,000 soldiers, suppresses a Jewish riot and reoccupies Galilee.
69 AD: The Jewish diaspora that has heard the Christian Gospel from Christians, are already 4,000,000.
70 AD: Destruction of Jerusalem by Titus together with 4 legions. 600,000 Jews are killed in Judaea, 10,000 Jews are crucified, 90,000 are brought to Rome as slaves. The Christians that were formerly Jewish in Jerusalem were mindful of Christ's prophesy regarding the destruction of Jerusalem and escaped before the destruction, they scattered into other areas spreading the Gospel. End of Jewish Christians. The center of Christianity for the Eastern Empire is now Antioch.
Within 30 years (only one generation) after Christ, the percentage of the world which has been Christianized is about 0.1%. 15% of the world has heard the Gospel, and the Scriptures have been translated into 5 languages.
71 AD: The Colosseum is built in Rome. A large number of Christians are thrown to beasts or martyr in other ways.