His Grace, Bishop JOSEPH Concelebrates with His Grace, Bishop MAXIM and His Grace, Bishop THOMAS at St. Nicholas Cathedral - 01/20/2008Los Angeles, California
“This is a great honor and a blessing to have Their Graces with us.” These words of His Grace, Bishop JOSEPH summed up the sentiments of the clergy and laity of St. Nicholas Cathedral, as we welcomed two special guests on Sunday: His Grace, Bishop MAXIM of the Serbian Orthodox Christian Diocese of Western America; and His Grace, Bishop THOMAS of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Diocese of Charleston, Oakland (Penn.) and the Mid-Atlantic. The three hierarchs concelebrated the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy as an inspiration Orthodox everywhere: “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 132:1)
Vladyka MAXIM had just returned the day before from Fresno, where he celebrated Theophany services. He brought him his father, Archpriest Lazar, visiting from Serbia; Hieromonk Jovan; Deacon Nenad and his wife, Deaconissa Snezana. Sayidna THOMAS has been in Los Angeles for the week, and celebrated a wedding of a long-time parishioner of his at the Cathedral on Saturday.
Sayidna JOSEPH asked Sayidna THOMAS to preach the homily. Bishop THOMAS recounted the Ten Lepers in the morning Gospel passage (Luke 17:12-19). “This Gospel is a Gospel of faith,” Bishop THOMAS said. “People came to be cleansed and healed by Jesus. If we are to be healed, we must go to Jesus. This may sound simple, but society doesn’t do this. We go to doctors and specialists first, and then we say, ‘God, I’ve done everything; help me.’ We have to go to God first.”
Bishop THOMAS reminded us about the importance of giving thanks for what God has given us, recounting the Gospel lection where only one of the ten lepers returned to thank Jesus for healing him. “We must say ‘thank you’ to God when He heals us, but not just by words alone,” Sayidna said. “We cannot do this with our mouths only. We have to do it by giving ourselves completely to God.”
This way, Bishop THOMAS said, we constantly realize that we are God’s. “Test yourselves by asking: who dictates your lives?” His Grace said. “Who governs your lives? Who do you talk to first when you wake up in the morning? If it is not God, then we are not God’s servants, but servants of ourselves. Let us then change our lives so that we are constantly serving Him.”
Sayidna JOSEPH also inducted Dr. Raphael Napolitano into the Order of St. Ignatius of Antioch, the philanthropic arm of the Antiochian Archdiocese.
We pray that our Heavenly Father brings Bishop JOSEPH, Bishop MAXIM and Bishop THOMAS together in the near future to once again concelebrate the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy.
By: Subdeacon Peter Samore