Labor as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. (2Tim2:3)

Homily 4 on Second Timothy ( by John Chrysostom, Doctor and Patriarch of the Eastern Church )

2 Timothy 2:1-7

Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that wars entangles himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who has chosen him to be a soldier. And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully. The husbandman that labors must be first partaker of the fruits. Consider what I say; and the Lord give you understanding in all things.

SOLDIER OF CHRIST – ARCHMANDRITE Rabboni VIVONA 12 2017

The young sailor at sea is inspired with great confidence, if the Master of the ship has been preserved in a shipwreck. For he will not consider that it is from his inexperience that he is exposed to the storm, but from the nature of things; and this has no little effect upon his mind. In war also the Captain, who sees his General wounded and recovered again, is much encouraged. And thus it produces some consolation to the faithful, that the Apostle should have been exposed to great sufferings, and not rendered weak by the utmost of them. And had it not been so, he would not have related his sufferings. For when Timothy heard, that he who possessed so great powers, who had conquered the whole world, is a prisoner, and afflicted, yet is not impatient, nor discontented upon the desertion of his friends; he, if ever exposed to the same sufferings himself, would not consider that it proceeded from human weakness, nor from the circumstance of his being a disciple, and inferior to Paul, since his teacher too suffered the like, but that all this happened from the natural course of things. For Paul himself did this, and related what had befallen him, that he might strengthen Timothy, and renew his courage. And he shows that it was for this reason he mentioned his trials and afflictions, in that he has added, You, therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. What do you say? You have shaken us with terrors, you have told us that you are in chains, in afflictions, that all have forsaken you, and, as if you had said you had not suffered anything, nor been abandoned by any, you add. Thou therefore, my son, be strong? — And justly too. For these things were to your strengthening more than to his. For if I, Paul, endure these things, much more ought thou to bear them. If the master, much more the disciple. And this exhortation he introduces with much affection, calling him son, and not only so, but my son. If you are a son, he means, imitate your father. If you are a son, be strong in consideration of the things which I have said, or rather be strong, not merely from what I have told you, but of God. Be strong, he says, in the grace that is in Christ Jesus; that is, through the grace of Christ. That is, stand firmly. You know the battle. For elsewhere he says, We wrestle not against flesh and blood. Ephesians 6:12 And this he says not to depress but to excite them. Be sober therefore, he means, and watch, have the grace of the Lord cooperating with you, and aiding you in your contest, contribute your own part with much alacrity and resolution. And the things that you have heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men; to faithful men, not to questioners nor to reasoners, to faithful. How faithful? Such as betray not the Gospel they should preach. The things which you have heard, not which you have searched out. For faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17. But wherefore, among many witnesses? As if he had said: You have not heard in secret, nor apart, but in the presence of many, with all openness of speech. Nor does he say, Tell, but commit, as a treasure committed is deposited in safety. Again he alarms his disciple, both from things above and things below. But he says not only commit to faithful men; for of what advantage is it that one is faithful, if he is not able to convey his doctrine to others? When he does not indeed betray the faith; but does not render others faithful? The teacher therefore ought to have two qualities, to be both faithful, and apt to teach; wherefore he says, who shall be able to teach others also.

Thou therefore endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Oh, how great a dignity is this, to be a soldier of Jesus Christ! Observe the kings on earth, how great an honor it is esteemed to serve under them. If therefore the soldier of the king ought to endure hardness, not to endure hardness is not the part of any soldier. So that it behooves you not to complain, if you endure hardness, for that is the part of a soldier; but to complain, if you dost not endure hardness.

No man that wars entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who has chosen him to be a soldier. And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned except he strive lawfully.

Soldiers pray for 100 Catchiest Rite in Confirmation

These things are said indeed to Timothy, but through him they are addressed to every teacher and disciple. Let no one therefore of those who hold the office of a Bishop disdain to hear these things, but let him be ashamed not to do them. If any one strive for masteries, he says, he is not crowned, except he strive lawfully. What is meant by lawfully? It is not enough that he enters into the lists, that he is anointed, and even engages, unless he comply with all the laws of the exercise, with respect to diet, to temperance and sobriety, and all the rules of the wrestling school, unless, in short, he go through all that is befitting for a wrestler, he is not crowned. And observe the wisdom of Paul. He mentions wrestlers and soldiers, the one to prepare him for slaughter and blood, the other with reference to endurance, that he might bear everything with fortitude, and be ever in exercise.

The husbandman that labors must be first partaker of the fruits.

He had first spoken from his own example as a teacher. He now speaks from those that are more common, as wrestlers and soldiers, and in their case he sets before him the rewards. First, that he may please him who has chosen him to be a soldier; secondly, that he may be crowned; now he proposes a third example that more particularly suits himself. For the instance of the soldier and the wrestler corresponds to those who are under rule, but that of the husbandman to the Teacher. (Strive) not as a soldier or a wrestler only, but as a husbandman too. The husbandman takes care not of himself alone, but of the fruits of the earth. That is, no little reward of his labors is enjoyed by the husbandman.

Here he both shows, that to God nothing is wanting, and that there is a reward for Teaching, which he shows by a common instance. As the husbandman, he says, does not labor without profit, but enjoys before others the fruits of his own toils, so is it fit that the teacher should do: either he means this, or he is speaking of the honor to be paid to teachers, but this is less consistent. For why does he not say the husbandman simply, but him that labors? Not only that works, but that is worn with toil? And here with reference to the delay of reward, that no one may be impatient, he says, you reap the fruit already, or there is a reward in the labor itself. When therefore he has set before him the examples of soldiers, of wrestlers, and husbandmen, and all figuratively, No one, he says, is crowned except he strive lawfully. And having observed that the husbandman who labors must first be partaker of the fruits, he adds,

Consider what I say, and the Lord give you understanding in all things.

It is on this account that he has spoken these things in proverb and parable. Then again to show his affectionate disposition, he ceases not to pray for him, as fearing for his own son, and he says, Verse. 8, 9. Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead, according to my Gospel. Wherein I suffer trouble as an evil-doer, even unto bonds………

John Chrysostom (347 – 407) was a notable Christian bishop

Soldier for Christ John Chrysostom
[SEE Maniples/ CUFFS] around his Forearm represent Armor (below)

and preacher from the 4th and 5th centuries in Syria and Constantinople. He is famous for eloquence in public speaking and his denunciation of abuse of authority in the Church and in the Roman Empire of the time. After his death he was named Chrysostom, which comes from the Greek chrysostomos, “golden mouthed“. The Orthodox Church honors him as a saint (feastday, November 13) and count him among the Three Holy Hierarchs (feast day, January 30), together with Saints Basil the Great and Gregory the Theologian. He is also recognized by the Catholic Church, which considers him a saint and a Doctor of the Church, His relics were stolen from Constantinople by Crusaders in 1204 and brought to Rome, but were returned on 27 November 2004 by Pope John Paul II.

THE LITRUGICAL VESTMENTS OF BYZANTINE RITE SOLDIER FOR CHRIST

EPITRACHELION (STOLE)

Which literary means “around the neck”, is a liturgical vestment shaped like a band, worn around the neck over both shoulders as a sign of ordained ministry. It is stitched together at various intervals in front of the body, and reaches all the way down to the ankles.

Across the bottom and again some six inches from the bottom it has two horizontal bands of fringe which stand for the souls of the living and dead entrusted to the clergyman. The epitrachelion symbolises the spiritual yoke of the priesthood and the grace of the Holy Spirit which flows abundantly upon officiating clergyman, yet it also signifies the double portion of grace bestowed upon a priest, for the celebration of the Mysteries.

It is the one vestment (in the absence of any others) which is absolutely necessary for a priest or bishop to conduct any liturgical service.

EPIMANIKIA (MANIPLES/CUFFS)

Creative POWER OF GOD

Epimanikiaare made of stiff cloth and are worn over the wrists to cover up the ends of the sticharion sleeves, and are tied up with lace which hangs at both ends of each cuff. The excess lace is tied up and tucked into the cuff itself. All three ranks of clergy wear the cuffs, but since the deacon wears a more elaborate sticharion as an outer garment, he wears the epimanikia underneath the sleeves of his sticharion. Usually epimanikia are decorated with an embroidered cross or some other Christian symbol.

They symbolize the creative power of God.

EPIGONATION (GENUAL)

Literally “upon the knee”, the epigonation is a stiff, flat, diamond-shaped cloth, which is worn on the right-hand side of a priest or bishop, just hanging over the right knee. Within Byzantine tradition this was awarded to a priest who was elevated to the rank of a confessor or oikonomos (“steward”). In modern practice, it is worn by all bishops, archimandrites and priests who have received an offikion (honourary title) from the bishop.

Originally though, the epigonation was a sort of towel that also was utilized for drying the hands after the celebrant washed his hands before or after handling the Holy Eucharist.

Literally “upon the knee”, the epigonation is a stiff, flat, diamond-shaped cloth, which is worn on the right-hand side of a priest or bishop, just hanging over the right knee. Within Byzantine tradition this was awarded to a priest who was elevated to the rank of a confessor or oikonomos (“steward”). In modern practice, it is worn by all bishops, archimandrites and priests who have received an offikion (honourary title) from the bishop.

It represents a shield, originating from the thigh shield worn by soldiers during the days of the Apostolic Church. Yet it also symbolizes a spiritual sword, which is the strength of the Word of God, the spiritual power, and the pastoral authority by which the bishops and clergy of the Church smite the enemies of Christianity, and everything which is impure and evil. In effect the epigonation denotes that a clergyman is a soldier of Christ who utilizes the Word of God, to fight the wiles of the enemy.

Originally though, the epigonation was a sort of towel that also was utilized for drying the hands after the celebrant washed his hands before or after handling the Holy Eucharist.

PHELONION (CHASUBLE)

The phelonionis a large, sleeveless, outer cape-like vestment, somewhat akin to a poncho, and is worn over the sticharion. The front part reaches to just above the waist, in order to facilitate the movement of a priest’s hands during church services, while the back of the phelonion hangs as far down as the ankles. Originally within liturgical practice, bishops also wore the phelonion, just as the priests continue to do so, but their phelonion was distinguished by their design of multiple crucifixes joined together. However, later liturgical developments gave way for bishops to wearing the sakkos, with the exception of the celebration of the Divine Liturgy of St James (23 October). As a consequence, priests are the only clergy who wear the phelonion today.

The phelonion symbolises the red tunic with which Pilate dressed our Lord before His Crucifixion. Thus indicating the torments and suffering that a priest will endure during his ministry in order to serve God’s faithful and bear witness to the world of the reality of the Cross as the means to pass into the grace of the Resurrection.

The sleeveless nature of the phelonion, is explained by St Cosmas the Aetolian, as a reference to the fact that the priest has his hands bound close to himself, and not open, receptive or attached to worldly things, and thus can receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit unhindered.

SAKKOS (DALMATIC)

Traditionally, bells are attached to the sakkos, following the biblical directions for the vestments of the Jewish High Priest (Exodus 28:33-34; 39:25-26).

The sakkos was originally worn by the Emperors of Byzantium as an imperial vestment, symbolizing the tunic of disgrace worn by Christ during his trial and mockery. The garment itself is a tunic with wide sleeves, and a distinctive pattern of trim. It reaches below the knees and is fastened up along the sides with buttons or tied with ribbons. Within liturgical use, the use of the sakkos was a privilege bestowed by an Emperor upon individual patriarchs as a sign of his personal favor and thanksgiving for their service within the Church.

In time, as Byzantium declined and civil authorities were in disarray, bishops assumed a role of governance in the absence of competent authorities, and with the Fall of Constantinople (1453 AD) in effect became “ethnarchs” (political-religious leaders of the people), and thus the wearing of the Sakkos became common place, since it expressed this dual role that circumstances had placed them in. Hence, replacing the embroidered cross-patterned phelonion, known as the “polystavrion”. The sakkos is usually made of a rich brocade fabric and may be intricately embroidered. There is normally a cross centered on the back, which the bishop kisses before it is placed on him. Buttons or loops are sewn on the back, by which the bishop’s omophorion (either great or small) may be attached.

John Chrysostom‘s Conclusion:

Such is the power of Christ. The chain surpassed the kingly crown, and this apparel was shown more brilliant than that. Clothed in filthy rags, as the inhabitant of a prison, he turned all eyes upon the chains that hung on him, rather than on the purple robe. He stood on earth bound down and stooping low, and all left the tyrant mounted on a golden chariot to gaze on him. And well they might. For it was customary to see a king with white horses, but it was a strange and unwonted sight to behold a prisoner conversing with a king with as much confidence as a king would converse with a pitiful and wretched slave. The surrounding multitude were all slaves of the king, yet they admired not their lord, but him who was superior to their lord. And he before whom all feared and trembled, was trampled upon by one solitary man. See then how great was the brightness of these very chains!

EMPTY TOMB

And what need to mention what followed after these things? The tomb of the one is nowhere to be seen; but the other lies in the royal city itself, in greater splendor than any king, even there where he conquered, where he raised his trophy. If mention is made of the one, it is with reproach, even among his kindred, for he is said to have been profligate. But the memory of the other is everywhere accompanied with a good report, not among us only, but among his enemies. For when truth shines forth, it puts to shame even one’s enemies, and if they admire him not for his faith, yet they admire him for his boldness and his manly freedom. The one is proclaimed by all mouths, as one that is crowned, the other is loaded with reproaches and accusations. Which then is the real splendor?

Church of the Holy Sepulcher

And yet I am but praising the lion for his talons, when I ought to be speaking of his real honors. And what are these? Those in the heavens. How will he come in a shining vesture with the King of Heaven! How will Nero stand then, mournful and dejected! And if what I say seems to you incredible and ridiculous, you are ridiculous for deriding that which is no subject for laughter. For if you disbelieve the future, be convinced from what is past. The season for being crowned is not yet come, and yet how great honor has the combatant gained! What honor then will he not obtain, when the Distributor of the prizes shall come! He was among foreigners, a stranger and a sojourner Hebrews 11:13, and thus is he admired: what good will he not enjoy, when he is among his own? Now our life is hid with Christ in God Colossians 3:3; yet he who is dead works more and is more honored than the living. When that our life shall come, what will he not participate? What will he not attain?

…………But let us, my beloved children, be imitators of Paul, not in his faith only, but in his life, that we may attain to heavenly glory, and trample upon that glory that is here. Let not any things present attract us. Let us despise visible things, that we may obtain heavenly things, or rather may through these obtain the others, but let it be our aim preeminently to obtain those, of which God grant that we may be all accounted worthy, through the grace and loving kindness, etc.

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