My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH
The Savior, in giving authority to the Apostles before His Ascension, told them very clearly that He Himself would not cease to be the invisible Shepherd and Pilot of the Church. "I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS, EVEN UNTO THE END OF THE WORLD" (every day constantly and inseparably; Matthew 28:20). The Savior taught that He, as the Good Shepherd, had to bring in also those sheep who were not of this fold, so that there might be ONE FLOCK and One Shepherd (John 10:16). "All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations (Matthew 28:18-19). In all these words there is contained the idea that the Highest Shepherd of the Church IS CHRIST Himself. We must be aware of this so as not to forget the close bond and the INWARD UNITY of the Church on earth with the Heavenly Church.
The Lord Jesus Christ is also the FOUNDER of the Church: "I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18).
Christ is also the FOUNDATION of the Church, its CORNERSTONE: "Other foundation can NO MAN LAY THAN THAT IS LAID, WHICH IS JESUS CHRIST" (I Corinthians 3:11).
He also is its HEAD. God the Father "gave Him TO BE THE HEAD over all things in the Church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all" (Ephesians 1:22-23). "The HEAD is Christ, from Whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love" (Ephesians 4:16). As
ALL THE MEMBERS OF OUR BODY COMPRISE A FULL AND LIVING ORGANISM WHICH DEPENDS UPON ITS HEAD, SO ALSO THE CHURCH IS A SPIRITUAL ORGANISM IN WHICH THERE IS NO PLACE WHERE THE POWERS OF CHRIST DO NOT ACT. IT IS "FULL OF CHRIST" (Bishop Theophan the Recluse).
Christ is the GOOD SHEPHERD of His flock, the Church. We have the "GREAT SHEPHERD OF THE SHEEP," according to the Apostle Paul (Hebrews 13:20). The Lord Jesus Christ is the Chief of Shepherds. "BEING EXAMPLES TO THE FLOCK," the Apostle Peter entreats those who have been placed as shepherds in the Church, as their co-pastor (Greek syn-presbyteros), when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away" (1 Peter 5:1-4).
Christ, Himself is the invisible Chief BISHOP of the Church. The Hieromartyr Ignatius the God-bearer, an Apostolic Father, calls the Lord the "INVISIBLE BISHOP" (Greek, "EPISKOPOS AORATOS").
Christ IS THE ETERNAL HIGH-PRIEST of His Church, as the Apostle Paul explains in the Epistle to the Hebrews. The Old Testament Chief Priests "were many, because they were not suffered in continue by reasons of death. But this one, because He CONTINUETH FOREVER, hath an UNCHANGEABLE PRIESTHOOD. Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He EVER LIVETH TO MAKE INTERCESSION FOR THEM" (Hebrews 7:23-25).
He is, according to the Apocalypse (Revelation) of Saint of John the Theologian, "He that is true, He that hath the key of David, He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth and no man openeth" (Revelation 3:7).
The TRUTH that Christ Himself is the Head of the Church has always in lively fashion run through and continues to run through, THE SELF-AWARENESS OF THE CHURCH. In our daily prayers also we read, "O Jesus, Good Shepherd of Thy sheep" (The Prayer of Saint Antioch in the Prayers Before Sleep of the Orthodox Prayer Book).
Saint John Chrysostom teaches in his Homilies on the Epistle to the Ephesians as follows: "In Christ, in the flesh, God placed A SINGLE HEAD FOR EVERYONE, for Angels and men; that is, He gave one principle both to Angels and men: to the one, Christ according to the flesh; and to the other, God the Logos/Word. Just as if someone should say about a house, that one part of it is rotten and the other part strong, and he should restore the house, that is, make it stronger, placing a stronger foundation under it; so also here, He has brought ALL UNDER A SINGLE HEAD. Only then IS UNION W POSSIBLE; only then WILL THERE BE THAT PERFECT BOND, WHEN EVERYTHING, HAVING A CERTAIN INDISPENSABLE BOND WITH THAT IS ABOVE, WILL BE UNDER A SINGLE HEAD" (Works of Saint John Chrysostom in Russian, v. 11, p. 14).
The Orthodox Church of Christ REFUSES TO RECOGNIZE YET ANOTHER HEAD OF THE CHURCH IN THE FORM OF A "Vicar of Christ on earth," a title given in the Roman Catholic church to the Bishop of Rome. Such a title DOES NOT CORRESPOND EITHER TO THE WORD OF GOD OR TO THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH CONSCIOUSNESS AND TRADITION; IT TEARS AWAY THE CHURCH ON EARTH FROM IMMEDIATE UNITY WITH THE HEAVENLY CHURCH. A VICAR IS ASSIGNED DURING THE ABSENCE OF THE ONE REPLACED, BUT CHRIST IS INVISIBLY PRESENT IN HIS CHURCH ALWAYS.
The REJECTION by the ancient Church of the view of the Bishop of Rome as the Head of the Church and Vicar of Christ upon earth is expressed in the writings of those who were active ini the Ecumenical Councils.
The Second Ecumenical Council of Bishops, after the completion of their activities wrote an epistle to Pope Damasus and other bishops of the Roman church, which ended thus: "When in this way the teaching of Faith is in agreement, and Christian love is established in us, we will cease to speak the words which were condemned by the Apostle: "I am of Paul, I am of Apollo, I am of Cephas," And when we will all he manifest as of Christ, since Christ IS NOT DIVIDED IN US, THEN BY GOD’S MERCY WE WILL PRESERVE THE Body of Christ UNDIVIDED, AND WILL BOLDLY STAND BEFORE THE THRONE OF THE LORD." [Source: Orthodox Dogmatic Theology by Father Michael Pomazansky)
(To be continued)
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God