St. Mary Orthodox Church

Cambridge, MA

On the Sacred Gift of Life Sunday

Sermon Preached by Fr. Antony Hughes on Sunday, January 22, 2006

(After reading the letter from Metropolitan PHILIP)

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen.

Glory to Jesus Christ!

The Metropolitan expresses my position exactly.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

The position of the Church vis a vis abortion is clear, it has always been the same. We see life, from conception to death and beyond, as a sacred gift to be honored, protected and respected. When we are at our best we actually practice what we preach.

So we teach and practice to the best of our ability in a world that often holds different points of view. That also has always been the case, but whether the Church finds herself in a situation where her teachings are respected or not, we remain as we are seeking to follow our Lord and offering through word and deed our perspective to all who will listen, hoping to change hearts and minds through our good example.

In my mind and, evidently, in that of our Father Metropolitan PHILIP, the battle for life takes place primarily in the human heart. “Protests and demonstrations will not change the minds of those who disagree with us.” We need to admit as well that legislation does not have the power to change hearts and minds. When it comes down to it all ethical and moral issues are pastoral issues. Thus, we have a special calling to care for the world in a most intimate and personal way and this takes a miraculous kind of discernment.

Where this discernment is lacking, as it so often is, zealous pursuit of the good can paradoxically result in greater evils. St. Isaac of Syria has written that “Zeal is a sin”. We must be careful. There are few more destructive forces in the history of the world than religious intolerance.

So, while we attempt to live the Gospel let us not forget the example of Christ who shows his love for life in his treatment of each and every person he met. His example is our commandment. Let us not forget our true calling and purpose. Our openness and compassion can have no bounds. We must cultivate in ourselves a sincere respect for all not restricting our reverence for life to the unborn only, but to all human beings.

Sisters and brothers, do not forget to love one another and that means not only those who agree with us, but also those who don’t.