On Thursday afternoon, 29 June 2023, the Church of Greece honored the Apostle of the Nations, Saint Paul, in memory of his sermon to the Athenians, on the sacred Rock of the Areopagus.
The Great Festive Vespers were officiated by Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and all Greece. Hierarchs, representatives of the State, law enforcement and the armed forces, clergy and laity were all present.
At the Great Vespers, Archimandrite Epiphanios Karageorgos, President of the Ecclesiastical Council of the Church of Saint Anthony, Ano Patisia, offered a homily, and referred, among other things, to the historical event of the teaching of the Apostle Paul in Athens. He also spoke about the mistrust with which the Athenians treated him and pointed out that “here, on the Areopagus, the foundations were laid for a dialogue between ancient philosophy and the new faith. A dialogue, which gave many fruits and many important answers, about what God, man, and creation are”.
At another point, Fr. Epiphanios, speaking about the phenomena and trends we encounter in every age, which in one way or another try to break human unity and project the spiritual element of the human being, underestimating the physical and material elements, he emphasized that: “This is particularly evident today, in the age of digital reality. Through various processes, physical participation in human actions is limited and the material world is replaced by virtual representations, by images. Modern rapid changes give man the feeling that he can live in “the realms of space while being terrestrial and finite”. The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, uniting this very atmosphere and the digital challenges, wisely approved, in a pioneering way, the idea of organizing an International scientific conference on: “Orthodox theology on the way to the “immaterial” reality of late modern age”, on the occasion of the completion of 100 years of the continuous presence of the magazine “Theologia”.
Concluding his speech, Fr. Epiphanios underlined: “The Church of Greece, and on these occasions, again brings to the fore the words and sermon of the Apostle Paul, with regards to the value of the body and matter, which culminates in the faith of the resurrection of the human body.
This view of the Church with regards to the value of the body and matter is at the same time the hope, something new that the Church projects, in a world that is increasingly fascinated by the possibilities of communication at distance and by non-physical presence!
In a world that is increasingly limiting physical human presence, perhaps believing that this way things are made easier. But, for us Orthodox, “the body is more than a body”. It is the temple of the Holy Spirit. It is of such great importance that the Second Person of the Holy Trinity assumed it. As far as we do not value the body and matter, our life will be lacking and incomplete!”.