His Eminence Metropolitan Savas of Pittsburgh – Archpastoral Reflection Offered at the Prayer Service for Those Suffering from COVID-19
Patience (Waiting and Hope)
Christ is Risen!
I greet you from the Chapel of St. Photios the Great, Patriarch of Constantinople, Patron of the Holy the Metropolis of Pittsburgh, within the center of the Metropolis of Pittsburgh, to lead you in prayer for those who are enduring the burden of this illness, and also for those of us who are sharing in this burden – their immediate families, their loved ones, their friends, and the Church at large, because we bear one another’s burdens and thus we fulfil the law of Christ.(cf. Gal 6:2)
We are in a transitional period – we are moving from the strictest period of lockdown to a more relaxed and expansive engagement with the world. And different regulations will apply to different places, depending on the discernment of the local bishop in consultation with local authorities and experts in healthcare. And I ask you to be patient during this period – I ask you to accept the guidance of those who have been entrusted with the ministry of oversight, and I remind you of what a great virtue patience is.
On the day of his return to the Father, the first thing we hear about in the book of Acts, the first directive we hear Christ give to His disciples is this: «He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father» (Acts 1:4)
This modern technology has been marvelous during this period of our separation because it has provided a means for us to interact with one another, in a way, face-to-face. But it is more than just a window to activity – it also can provide a means for us to go inside, if we use it properly. And I advise you, in the hours remaining to us this day, to open your internet search engine and type in the words «Wait on the Lord in Scripture» and see what resources it brings to you. It will take you to pages and pages of passages from throughout the Scriptures that will help you to understand the importance of patience, of waiting in hope for the Lord to act.
More often than not the answer to our prayer to God is «Wait, in *my* good time I will do this for you. Wait.» But like little children – which we always are, regardless of how far along we imagine ourselves to be in the path of spiritual maturity we all remain on the level of children – we push back, «Why wait? Why not now? I want it now!» But the Lord knows, just as those who are parents know that it is often in the best interests of our children that they wait for some good thing, because if we give it to them too early they will abuse it, or it will be to their harm – so too, the Lord asks us to wait. So let’s wait. Waiting on the Lord is a good thing.
Let me read to you a few verses from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans (and with this I conclude) (Rom 8:18-25; 5:3-5). Pay attention, please, to what the Holy Apostle says about waiting in times of suffering with eager longing, patient endurance, and especially hope.
«I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in travail together until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.»
«More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.»
Christ is Risen! Christos Anesti!
Metropolitan SAVAS of Pittsburgh
A video of the prayer service and the reflection are available on the Metropolis’s YouTube channel and via its Facebook page.