Fr. Richard's Sunday Homily, July 2, 2017
Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

Enthronement of the Bishop

Epistle: Romans 6:18-23  
Gospel: Matthew 8:5-13  

I got home late Friday night from Chicago and all those activities and then our great celebration was yesterday. I finished in church at 7:30 last night. I was tired. I was so tired I couldn’t even remember where the bathroom was. Leo had to draw me a map. So please pardon me for not having a proper sermon for today. Instead I would just like to talk a few minutes about the enthronement celebration in Chicago. It was a great event because it is a rare occasion when an eparchy receives a new leader. Patriarch Sviatoslav came in order to install him in the name of the Church. Bishop Benedict also brought a deacon from L’viv to serve at the vespers, matins and Liturgy. Our deacon John Patterson also served at the Liturgy and there were about 25 bishops who also came, including three from Ukraine. The Liturgy was three and a half hours long, but it didn’t seem that long from where I was standing.

The full hierarchical Divine Liturgy, with the Patriarch and five deacons is a very amazing and beautiful service. It is full of glory, beauty, light, color, movement, music, and especially prayer. I hope you have the time to watch at least some of it on the Internet as you can read about in the bulletin.

This great and glorious Liturgy is truly amazing, but its beauty is not for the Patriarch, nor for the Bishop; its prayers are not simply for the hierarchy or the monks and nuns. This Liturgy is also, and most especially, for the men and women and children who were in the pews, because that is why there are priests and bishops and a Patriarch. They are all there in order to serve the people of God, not to be served themselves. I believe that is the understanding of our Patriarch, and I know it is also the desire of our new bishop, Benedict—to serve the people of God. Although it was a workday the cathedral was nearly full, which I took as a great sign for our eparchy an its future.

The banquet which followed the Liturgy was four hours long, and I have to say, you couldn’t hear more Ukrainian spoken than if you were in Kyiv/Kiev. I think I was the only one there who felt like an immigrant. But as we were preparing and planning for this event, I was very much impressed by all the men and women who worked so very hard in so many different ways to make this event come about. Their dedicated labor and service reminded me of your own dedicated labor and service here back home, as we saw once again yesterday in the Ukrainian Day celebration—an event that showcases the beauty of Ukrainian culture and the beauty and greatness of family life as well. In a certain way the dance performance has a kind of similar function as the Patriarchal Liturgy. The kids danced in order to serve us, their parents, families and friends and all who came to the concert. And they served us well indeed, so thank you all who danced, who taught dance, who labored and served to make it a successful and inspiring event.

So then, Thursday, at the end of Liturgy, I experienced one of the greatest surprises I had ever received for a very long time. Patriarch Sviatoslav, on behalf of Bishop Benedict, presented me with the award and the right to wear the “krest prekrasny”—this cross, as a symbol of thanks for my service to the eparchy as administrator for the past year. And I want to thank all of you for your support and understanding during this time as I served the eparchy. I truly appreciate it. And, just like at services where a man is ordained, or a priest is given an honor, Patriarch called out “Axios” and the people answered three times, “Axios, Axios, Axios”—“he is worthy.” Then Patriarch Sviatoslav led them all in singing “Mnohaya kita”—“Many years” for me. Wow. For little old me. You can see on the video my face is beet red.

A supremely spiritual event in Chicago last Thursday, and an enlightened secular event here yesterday—both of them, in different ways, give glory to God as we do here at this Divine Liturgy. And may we continue to glorify Him all the days of our lives. Thank you one and all, and thanks be to God.