Archbishop Makarios of Australia: “The Holy Forerunner invites us to change our way of thinking and living”
On Sunday, 7 January, the feast day of the Synaxis of Saint John the Forerunner and Baptist, His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia visited and liturgised at the celebrating Church of Saint Ioannis in Parramatta, Sydney.
At the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy, speaking extensively about the personality of the honoured Saint, His Eminence first recalled the saying of praise which was said by Jesus Christ himself: “among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist”. Then the Archbishop explained that Saint John played a major role in the Mystery of the Divine Economy, that is, God’s plan for the salvation of humankind.
His Eminence emphasised, among other things, that Saint John prepared the road for which Christ walked, that he was a forerunner of the Sacrament of Baptism, which to this day is a requirement for a person to enter the Orthodox Church, but also that he was a forerunner of Monasticism. In fact, he also referred to the fact that in traditional Orthodox iconography Saint John is often seen with wings on his shoulders. This is because, as His Eminence Archbishop Makarios explained, he will be the one to lead the angelic human order that will replace Lucifer’s fallen angelic order.
Focusing, then, on the characteristics of Saint John’s sermon, the Archbishop discerned that it was not demagogic, but, on the contrary, contained elements that made it unpleasant and disturbing for people to listen to. Calling upon his famous phrase: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”, Archbishop Makarios pointed out that the Holy Forerunner preached repentance, not in the superficial or hypocritical sense, but in the essential one, of changing the way of thinking and by extension the way of life.
“Many people,” observed His Eminence, “go to their Spiritual Fathers, tell them their sins, but remain unrepentant and continue the same life, or they go to the Spiritual Father, because they want to trick their conscience a little. What John the Forerunner meant is that we must change our way of thinking. Let us not continue in the same ways. Merely saying or simply accepting my sins is not repentance. This is very important to understand and above all to accept.”
The second distinguishing feature of the sermon of Saint John the Forerunner is captured in the phrase: ““He having twocoats, let him impart to him having none.” “John the Forerunner was not asking for any law to be imposed, but he was talking about the personal change of the person”, noted the Archbishop and added: “John preached about a change, which, however, begins from within ourselves. The great problem of today’s age is that humankind is concerned only with itself when it comes to good and pleasant things. However, when it comes to control, then we don’t deal with ourselves, we deal with others. And we only see the wrong doings and faults of others.”
Concluding, His Eminence paternally urged the faithful who attended the church service, to study and try to apply in their lives all that which the Patron of their Parish-Community preached. At the same time, he congratulated the Parish Priest, Father Dimitrios Kokkinos, the President Mr. Kosmas Dimitriou and all their coworkers, for their God-pleasing works, for the spirit of love and unity with which they work for the further progress of the Parish-Community, and for their dedication to the Holy Archdiocese of Australia and the Mother Church of Constantinople.