His Eminence
Metropolitan Panteleimon of Antinoes

In today’s Gospel reading, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ spoke about the Parable of the Talents. He brings us before a serious subject, which concerns each and every one of us. Every man has been gifted by God with various talents, different charismata, various skills. These talents one must concern as gifts from God, who entrusted them to us so that we will give an account to God.
St. John Chrysostom, interpreting the Parable of the Talents explains, that with the term “talent” our Lord Jesus Christ means the abilities and skills of each and every one of us to practice every good deed with responsibility. So, if we hold an official public position, or we have a special place in society, or if we have been blessed with wealth, or we are gifted with capability of knowledge and teaching, or with whatever other spiritual gift, All the “talents” are God-given.
According to the Parable, the “talents” are given by God to man. But, in Holy Scripture God calls men generally as His children, but here He calls them “servants”. This God does in order to reveal, that we are responsible before Him, and that we should obedient in a perfect way; not because we are considered as “servants”. But, because God’s Law is perfect and beneficial to all. He who follows God’s Law becomes truly free and offers himself to perfect obedience to God. Even our Lord Jesus Christ became the prototype example for all faithful. For us He became a “servant”, and humbledHimself so much, and became obedient to the Divine Will till death. “Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 8 he humbled himself           and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:6-8).
The Parable’s lord gave the talents to his servants and immediately departed to a country far away. God gives us His Talents, then various gifts, but never stands over us as a despot or tyrant to force us in any way, but He leaves us to use our talents freely as we wish. If we do not use them properly, then although He continuous to respect our free will, He shows mercy and patience till the moment when He will return to demand an account from us.
The talents are given in order to be used with responsibility, as we will give an account. Time goes by and we will give our account. This account is necessary and Christ assured us many times that it will take place (see Matth. 18:23-24; Luke 19:11-26).
But, if thetalents are ours, then why should God demand an account from us? The skills might be ours, but we have them from God. Our skills our either naturally, or they have been given by the Grace of the Holy Spirit, consequently, they are from God. For this reason our Lord in the Parable says, that the lord gave his belonging to his servants. The charismata which we have, we must see them as belongings of God, which have been given to us by God. Thus, we should use them as divine gifts and use them and increase them to a perfect level, according to God’s instructions.
Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself recognized this obligation for Himself, as He considered as His duty to preach the Kingdom of God to all the cities and country side.
The responsibility for our deeds and use of our talents and skills is generally for all of us. Our Lord assured us that each of us will give an account according to his works (Rom. 14:12).
This understanding that one day we will give an account should guide us throughout our lives. Our skills, small or big, should be used with great responsibility. It is not enough to do something, but we should struggle to increase the talents. Woe, to that person who had received a talent and he hid it!
Let us accept with humbleness and gratitude the various talents and charismata and let us struggle to multiply them for the glory of our True God, the Holy Trinity. Amen.

The Canaanite Woman Matth. l5:2l-29

His Eminence
Metropolitan Panteleimon of Antinoes

           In today's Holy Gospel our beloved Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ meets with a gentile woman near the region of Tyre and Sidon. The woman was a Greek living in Canaan.  She had a daughter which was "severely demon-possessed".  In her distress of finding a way to heal her daughter, she took the path and climbed the mountains of that region just with the taught, that she might meet with the great Teacher of Israel, whose fame travelled around the country.  This great Rabbi can heal all infirmities of men!  He is the solution, the woman said, of my family's problems.
         And behold, seeing Christ from a distance, she cried out to Him:  "Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David!"  Have mercy on me and show compassion, for my daughter is suffering not from any sickness of the flesh, but from spiritual illness.  She has been possessed by a demon! 
         But Jesus does not give any attention to her words.  He ignores her completely.  At her cry of pain, He does not show any sympathy.  In addition to this unusual behaviour of Jesus, when the Apostles came and urged Him to "send her away, for she cries out after us", He answered and said, "I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matth. l5:24).  But the poor woman did not lost her hopes.  She insists and came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, help me!"
         Now, we have before us a woman, whose child is spiritual ill.  She is crying out to the Creator of the whole Universe to help her.  She is crying out to the One, who heals with His command all illnesses.  She is kneeling before Him, who all the angelic hosts in Heaven worship.  She is crying out for help, and He is doing nothing!  And though the woman has enough problems, He says to her, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs" (Matth. l5:26).
         Now, what type of answer is this?  She is asking desperately for help, and He is insulting her on the top!  Is this a type of a joke?  Is Jesus truely turning His back on this woman's request?  Is the God of Love not hearing the prayers of this woman.  She is not asking anything for her self, she is praying for her daughter's health.  She is asking to deliver her from the power of satan, and to make her a free person.  Therefore she does not feel insultated, but insists even more on her request saying, "Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table" (Matth. l5:27).
         Jesus Christ answered, "O woman, great is your faith!  Let it be to you as you desire" (Matth. l5:28).  This is what our Lord wanted to bring out as an example for all generations which will follow.  The woman's faith in Him.  If He had just cured the child right from the beginning, then the woman's faith was not to be shown. 
         Christ on purpose ignores her, in order to glorify her faithfulness in Him.  He does not answer her, in order that she insists on turning to Him.  He delays the healing, in order to strengthen her hope in Him.  He humbles her in order to teach us her humbleness and that with true humbleness we should approach God.
         My beloved friends,
         Many times in our personal life, we had found our selves under diffucult situations.  We then turned to God for help and assistance.  In the hour of depress, we asked God to do this or that for us.  And how many times there was just no answer to our prayers?  
         When we pray to God Almighty, we must always stand before  Him with faith.  Our prayers cannot be accepted, unless they are addressed with faith and hope in God.  When we stand before God to pray, we must humble ourselves before Him.  You cannot stand before God with a pride heart or praying disrespectful. 
         Many ask the question:  Can we pray lying down, when we are very tired? 
         And I ask you: Can you lie down, if you are expecting an important guest?  Can you lie down, when the President of the country is before you?  Can you lie down, when you are invited to a special dinner?  And you all know the answer to these questions.  No you cannot lie down.
         Speaking to God is more important than anything else in the world.  It is essential that when we pray, we must stand before God's presence with the proper manner.  We must also approach him with true faith, without any doubts.  If we doubt, then are prayers are not heard.  Doubts are the obstacles to our prayers.  Christ our Lord and Saviour assured us saying, that  "Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, 'Be removed and be cast into the sea,' it will be done.  And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive" (Matth. 2l:2l-22),  and again He says, "For assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there', and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you" (Matth. l7:20).
         My beloved friends,
Let us remove from our hearts all doubts.  Let us approach Christ with faith.  Let us stand before Him, as the Canaan woman stood, with humbleness, faith and hope that our prayers will be heard.  Let us pray to God, not only when we need something from Him, but let us practice the virtue of prayer daily in our homes, shops and even when we travel.  Finally let us allow God's Will to take up the important role in our life, and not our own selfish human will.


Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee

Luke l8: l0-l4
By His Eminence
Metropolitan Panteleimon of Antinoes
It was very characteristic of our Lord Jesus Christ that in order to teach the Divine Truth, He used examples taken from the daily life of His times. In this way He was able to help those who believed in Him to apply the Divine Truth in their own lives.
In the Parable of today's Gospel, our Lord showed us two different types of men, who both went up to the Temple to pray. He also mentioned a very significant point, their different religious and social class. The first was a Pharisee and the second a Publican.
Now, amongst the Jews of the time, there were different religious parties. The most important of these were the Pharisees, who were strict observer of the Law of Moses; the Sadducees who believed that there is no resurrection; the Ninevees, who were dedicated to God, and the Essenes, who were ascetics.
The Pharasees boasted that they followed the Law of Moses literally. They wore special clothes and could always be easily recognised in a crowd of people. Το use the words of our Lord, "they do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honour at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, and salutations in the marketplace, and being called rabbi by men" (Matt. 23:5-7). They separated themselves from the rest of the people, believing themselves to be the just in the Eyes of God. The Publican on the other hand, belonged to a group who were hated and despised by rich and poor alike.
As we saw in last Sunday's sermon, the Publican’s job was to collect taxes. However they did not stop at collecting the tax that was legally due to the Roman Empire, but imposed heavy surcharges which went into their own pockets, and which were a crushing burden for the people to bear. But they were especially hated and despised not only for their corruption, but for the fact that they collaborated with the Romans.


Great Martyr Theodore Stratilates

Great Martyr Theodore Stratilates (meaning “The Commander”) was born in Euchait (Marsivan in Asia Minor, presently Turkey) of an eminent family. He was well-schooled from birth in the military tradition, displaying excellence and aptitude for military science and tactics. Quickly rising through the ranks, he was only in his twenties when he assumed command of the garrison at Galatia. The Emperor Licinius soon recognized him as a brilliant general and an excellent peacetime administrator. Licinius decided to honor Theodore and to bestow on him the emperor’s highest award at a pagan celebration to be held in the city of Nicomedia.
St. Theodore realized that he would not be able to participate fully in the ceremonies and that the time had come when he would have to declare and witness for his faith. He had only one thing in mind, and that was to declare Christ publicly among the many Christians in the city.
The emperor brought a number of gold idols that were set around the place of the pageant, but at the direction of St. Theodore, the golden images were broken into pieces and taken away to be distributed among the poor. When the emperor demanded to know who had perpetrated this outrage, St. Theodore presented himself as the culprit and declared himself a Christian. He denounced paganism as he had so many years ago when he accepted Christ, and now he was prepared to die for his Savior.
At the emperor’s order, St. Theodore was flogged with more than 1,000 lashes on the back and stomach. He was then crucified and pierced through with arrows, and finally slain with the sword. During the whole of his torture, St. Theodore repeated unceasingly: “Glory to Thee, my God, glory to Thee!” He died and entered into the Kingdom of Christ in the year 319. He is regarded as the protector of soldiers. His wonderworking relics were taken from Euchaita to Constantinople and buried in the Church at Blachernae.


St. Haralambos the Martyr

His Eminence
Metropolitan Panteleimon of Antinoes

 "As pillar unshaken of Christ's Holy Church and lamp ever-burning to all the world, you emerged, O wise Haralambos. In all the world you shined with the martyrdom you suffered. You dispelled the dark night of the idols O blessed. Thence with daring do intercede to Christ that we may be saved." (Tone 4)

"You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things…" (2Timothy 2:1-7)

In the early Church, the term "martyr" was originally used when characterizing the Apostles as witnesses of Christ's life and resurrection [Acts 1:8, 22]. Due to the persecutions that the early Christians endured, however, the term was applied to those who gave their lives for the Christian Orthodox Faith. In Greek, the word martyr means "witness" and, the verb form, martyred, means to "bear witness" or "give evidence."

Though martyrdom was not a constant experience for the early Church, it was a possibility with which the early Christians had to reckon. It was the consummate act of faith for as the Lord said: "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends" (John 15:13). Before actually being executed, however, the martyr usually endured extreme physical and moral sufferings.


Tattoo and Holy Bible:

"Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD."
Leviticus 19:28