Patriarch Porfirije: Repentance is inextricably linked to the Kingdom of God

Published On: 07/07/2022

On 7 July 2022, on the feast of the Birth of Saint John the Forerunner – Ivanjdan, His Holiness Serbian Patriarch kyr Porfirije presided over the Holy Liturgy at the Monastery of the Presentation of the Most Holy Theotokos in Belgrade.

His Grace Bishop of Toplica – elected Bishop of Šabac kyr Jerotej, cross-bearing protopresbyters Milovan Glogovac and Miroslav Radojević, presbyters Čedomir Milosavljević and Vladimir Pekić, as well as protodeacons Dragan Radić and Radomir Vrućinić concelebrated with His Holiness. The sermon was held by Bishop Jerotej:

– In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. On this day, the Holy Orthodox Church celebrates the memory of the Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John, who was born on this day. In the tradition of Christians, it is not customary to celebrate a birthday, because it is the day of entry, i.e. birth for this transitory and mortal life. That is why we Christians celebrate baptism as a birth for a new eternal life, as well as the day of repose as a transition from this mortal transitory to an imperishable, eternal and perfect life. However, there are personalities in the Holy Scriptures whose birthdays we celebrate because they, as personalities, directly participated in the oikonomia of human salvation, such as the Most Holy Theotokos – the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, as well as the Holy Prophet, Forerunner and John the Baptist who baptized the Lord in the Jordan.

The entire ministry of Saint John was the ministry of fulfilling the will of God, and his entire life can be set and observed only in that context. Even the prophecy uttered at his conception was in the context of the good news of the coming of his Lord. Even his pregnant mother, when she welcomed the Holy Theotokos, rejoiced more in Her pregnancy than in her own. Her joy was greater considering that the Holy Mother of God was carrying the Savior of the world in her womb. Although these miraculous events marked his conception and his very birth, Saint John the Prophet lived most of his life in anonymity. He lived in the desert unknown to men, but known to God. When his time came, he went out to the Jordan to baptize people, to prepare them for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ through baptism and repentance. When the Lord Jesus Christ came to the Jordan to be baptized and when Saint John baptized him, then his mission apparently ended, he went completely into the background. He continued to baptize people in the Jordan, but he instructed them to go to the Lord Jesus Christ, to listen to His preaching, His good news about salvation. He himself ended his life as a true prophet, testifying to the true truth of God, and for that he ultimately suffered by giving his life.

Saint John the Forerunner is a role model to all of us of how to live a truly Christian life, and that means living in humility. Above all, he was a truly humble man. Therefore, when we are entrusted with a service to perform to the glory and honor of God, then we should accept the will of God intended for us, and be happy, because when we fulfill the will of God, then we are in the presence of God and in the presence of his saints, we are in the Kingdom of Heaven. May it be so for all of us. Amen!

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After the liturgical dismissal, Patriarch Porfirije congratulated the feas and on that occasion he said: – May this feast be blessed and may God grant that Saint John be our intercessor through his prayers, that we may have his humility and hear his call to repentance. As the Gospel says, repentance is inextricably linked with the Kingdom of Heaven, and Saint John himself explicitly says: Repent, because the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand! Of course, the Lord himself says the same. May this feast be happy and blessed! Many years to all!