Archbishop Elpidophoros of America presided over the Divine Liturgy for the Sunday of the Fathers of the Fourth Ecumenical Council in Saint Markella Greek Orthodox Chapel, Kenoza, New York, on July 18, 2020.
In his homily, the Archbishop referred to the significance of the Fourth Ecumenical Council in Chalcedon, saying: “For all of us, the words of the Holy Fathers possess great meaning and are full of divine wisdom.”
The Archbishop also noted that, apart from the theological work of the Council, the Council also recognized essential privileges to our Ecumenical Patriarchate – the Archdiocese of Constantinople and New Rome.
Read the full homily of Archbishop Elpidophoros of America:
My Beloved Friends, Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We commenced our worship last evening at the setting of the sun and the start of this new day – the Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the Fourth Ecumenical Council in Chalcedon.
Yesterday, we honored Saint Markella; today, we honor the Council that recognized essential privileges to our Ecumenical Patriarchate – the Archdiocese of Constantinople and New Rome.
In its theological work, which had monumental consequences in the history of the Church, the Council can be summed up in four words.
Four words to describe the relationship between the Divinity and the Humanity found in Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God:
ἀσυγχύτως, ἀτρέπτως, ἀδιαρέτως, ἀχωρίστως,
unconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, inseparably.
When you hear these four words, you may be saying to yourself: “What can these possibly mean? Why are they important? What is unconfused? What is unchanged? What is indivisible? What is inseparable?”
The truth is that these four words – taken from the rich treasures of the Greek language and Greek philosophy – describe how the Lord Jesus Christ is to be understood as a person with two natures, divine and human.
But they are much more than a mere theological definition of the Lord Jesus. They are a way for us to understand how we are connected to God.
The first word, ἀσυγχύτως – unconfusedly, means that the Lord’s divine and human natures are in no way mingled or mixed.
They are distinct. But even though they are distinct, they are united in His Holy Person – the “Who” of His Godhead and the Holy Trinity.
For us, this means that our humanity is never confused with the divine nature. But rather, through our Lord Jesus Christ, it is united to the Godhead.
This way, then, we retain our individuality, even as we grow in grace and the knowledge of God.
The second word, ἀτρέπτως – unchangeably, indicates that neither His human nature turned into something other than it was, nor did His divine nature. Therefore, He abides as both God and Man.
For us, this means that we do not need to be afraid that God will overwhelm our lives and change us into something that we are not. In fact, through His love and mercy, we become what we were truly meant to be, what we were created to be.
The third word, ἀδιαρέτως – indivisibly, demonstrates the integrity of each nature of the Lord Christ. He is fully human – one hundred percent. And fully God, one hundred percent.
As He is fully human, then, the Lord understands all of the difficulties and struggles that we face in our daily lives.
And as the Lord lived a full human life without sin, He knows the solution for our every problem. And if we will but come before Him and ask for His guidance and wisdom, He will supply our every need.
The fourth word, ἀχωρίστως – inseparably, shows that in Christ Jesus, the human and the divine are forever joined through the Incarnation, through His taking human nature from our Panagia. He is ὁμοούσιον τῷ Πατρί – of one essence with the Father (as we confess in the Creed), but He is also ὁμοούσιον τῇ Μητρί – of one essence with His Mother, the Theotokos. Both natures are joined in His Holy Person.
For us, this means that we can never be separated from our Lord, because we are also ὁμοούσιον τῇ Μητρί – of one essence with His Mother, the Theotokos, with whom we share our human nature.
Thus, as Saint Paul says in his Epistle to the Romans:
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor Angels, nor Principalities nor Powers, nor things present, nor things future, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, our Lord!
Beloved in Christ,
You see how four Greek words, from so many centuries ago at the Ecumenical Council we celebrate this day, still mean so much.
For all of us, the words of the Holy Fathers possess great meaning and are full of divine wisdom. May their prayers always be with us, as we live our lives in the light of their teaching.