Sunday, June 16, 2013 (n.s.)
A short selection from the Homily
by St. Nikolai Velimirovich
on the Sunday of the Holy Fathers
of the First Ecumenical Council
Today the Church celebrates the memory of just one small group His disciples and followers. Today it brings before you only 318 of His sweet, fragrant and undecaying fruits. A small but chosen group. These are the three hundred and eighteen holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council, held in Nicaea in 325, in the time of the Emperor Constantine the Great, for the defence, clarification and confirmation of the Orthodox Faith. There had appeard, at that time, grievous wolves (Acts 20:29) under the guise of of shepherds of the Church, who because of their dissolute lives, were unable to find a place for Christ’s truth within themselves, but led the faithful astray, teaching them as dissolutely as they lived. The Holy Spirit therefore brought these saints of God together at a Council, so that Christ’s true teachers should be seen, as against the false; and that the might of those who fight for Christ should be seen over those who fight against Him; that the true, sweet fruit of the good Tree, which is Christ, should be seen in contrast to the rotting and bitter fruits of the tree of evil. As stars that shine in the sky, receiving light from the sun, so the holy Fathers shone at Nicaea, receiving light from Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. They were Christ-bearing men, for Christ lived and shone forth in each of gthem. They were citizens of heaven rather than of earth, more like angels than men. They were, in very truth, the temple of the living God; as God hath said: “I will dwell in them, and walk in them (II Cor. 6:16). Is it not sufficient to mention just three of them, the best-known to you, for you to have an idea of what the other three hundred and fifteen were like: our holy Father Nicholas, Saint Spiridon and Saint Athanasius the Great? Many of them came to the Council bearing on their bodies wounds incurred for Christ’s sake: Saint Paphnutius, for example, had lost an eye to his tormentors. All of them shone with an interior light that came from God, and in which the truth was seen and known. As followers of Him who was crucified, they regarded their sufferings as nothing, because of which their fearlessness in defense of the truth was boundless and inexpressible. By their God-given knowledge of the truth and their fearlessness in defence of the truth, these holy Fathers disproved and stamped out the heresy of wicked Arius, and established the Creed that we today hold and confess as God’s saving truth.