Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Homily on St. Marina by Metropolitan Avgoustinos Kantiotes

St. Marina the Great Martyr (source)
Excerpts from a Homily on St. Marina by Metropolitan Avgoustinos Kantiotes, Bishop of Florina: "Christ honored the woman"
Today is a feast, the feast of St. Marina. The churches built in her name celebrate, as do the women who bear her name.

We are honoring a woman. But also the New Testament continuously speaks of women. The Gospel reading today speaks of the woman with the issue of blood (Mark 5:24-34), who was healed by Christ. The Apostle Paul says that between woman and man there is no difference in worth, men and women are equal, for whatever rights the man has, the same does a woman. "There is neither man nor woman", he says, "for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians e3:28). These words we should say more simply to make it clear.

I don't know how much men love Christ, but women must love Him even more. If men love Him once, women should love Him thousands of times. Why? There is a specific reason.

Do you know what woman was before Christ? Man did with her whatever he wished. He locked her inside and didn't let her go out. The children that she gave birth she had no say over, but the man did. If he wanted, he would just kill them. She herself was so poorly treated that he kept her like an animal. He kept her like an adornment until he threw her out. He took another one, and another, and another... as many as he wanted. Thus woman was truly unhappy. In some places this still occurs. In India, for example, where they don't believe in Christ, the woman has no worth. Did her husband die? They were required to bury her with him. She couldn't be allowed  to live, and they would bury her near her husband in the same grave.

This was the state of the woman. When did it change? Who honored her? Only Christ.

How did Christ honor the woman?

First, with her "side". The Holy Scriptures say that there is no difference in honor. Man was created by God from the dust (Genesis 2:7), but woman was not created from dust, but from the man. He took a piece of his body, to show that she is yoked with the man. But the piece that he took was neither the head, nor the feet. It wasn't from the head so that she would not think that she should rule over the man. Neither was it from the feet, so that she might not think that she is a slave to be trampled upon by the man. He took a piece from his side, which covers his heart, to show that the woman must be beside him, next to him, supporting the man throughout the whole of life, in both joy and sorrow.

Secondly, Christ honored woman with His incarnation. As God He could have chosen not to have been born of a woman. He could have been like the first man, Adam, for not even the Angels are born of a woman. He could have come into the world by some other way. However, He was born of a woman, the Most-Holy Theotokos and Ever-virgin Mary. Why? In order to honor the woman. He was born of a virgin, in order to honor virginity. He was born of one betrothed in order to honor marriage.

Therefore Christ honored the woman. And because of this reason exactly, the women were with Him until the end, such as the Myrrhbearing women, St. Mary Magdalene and the others. And the greatest honor that He gave is that, after the Resurrection, the first "Christ is risen" was not heard by men. No, the woman was the first to receive this joyful news.

Thus did Christ honor the woman. Because of this, women loved Him greatly. One of those was St. Marina, whom we are celebrating today. Who was St. Marina? She was a beautiful and wealthy 15-16 year old girl. She could have found the finest husband. And a potential husband approached her, who had houses, fields and power. But she told him that she preferred Christ above men. And she remained faithful to Him until death.

This, therefore, is what the Apostle is speaking of: there is no difference between woman and man, they are one. And this is what was ordained by Christ, this is what our holy Church teaches.

Let's leave the past for the time being, my beloved, and let's come to today. Do we see woman today as Christ speaks of her, being equal to man? I doubt it.

Where do you want to go? To Athens, to Paris, to New York, to other great cities? There the opposite occurs. There, woman, not one of beauty but of corruption, exercises authority over man. You see a wise university professor or a general who strikes fear in the hearts of the world, and is overcome by a harlot. I'm not speaking of a specific person, I'm speaking generally. If you read history, you will see that many times corrupted women seized strong men by the nose and led them astray like the pied piper. Such women are the tools of the devil...

However, let's leave the big cities and return to the villages, there chaste women, are [unfortunately, sometimes] slaves of men. I had visited many villages as a preacher and I will offer some examples of what I saw.

Once, when I entered a village, I saw a man riding on a horse like a ruler, while behind him was walking his wife, overburdened on her back with wood and with a child in her arms...

Slavery of women, my beloved, and objects of terrible exploitation, either in marriage or outside of marriage. In marriage, regardless of how precious and hard working a woman might be, if she didn't have a good dowry, she couldn't be married off. But the corrupted and inglorious world doesn't even think about marriage. In a thousand satanic ways, such as the terribly "beauty pageants", the woman is prepared and her flesh is sold off like a butcher hangs his meat in the window.*** We have spoken against this, we have struggled against this, and because of this they called us crazy. But one prophecy says: When you see a woman walking naked outside, then the end of the world is coming.

Christ honored the woman, and the Church has shown forth holy women like St. Marina. And today's feast teaches women and men that we should all live with purity and honor.

+Bishop Avgoustinos
From a recorded homily in the Church of St. Marina, Florina, 7/17/1973
(amateur translation of excerpts of text from: source)
***Note: One wonders what the Bishop would have said about the terrible and tragic spread of abuse and exploitation of women, from internet pornography to human trafficking to women being abused by men in positions of power, many orders of magnitude worse than he is describing. May our Lord and His Mother deliver all women from such evil, and may His Saints, like St. Marina, both protect and heal those who suffer, and serve as an example of purity and sacrifice of body and soul for Christ!
St. Marina the Great Martyr (source)
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

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