On Sunday, December 19, the feast of Holy Hierarch Nicholas the Wonderworker, with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Kyrill of Moscow and all Russia and at the invitation of the Interim Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA Bishop Matthew of Sourozh, the Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon of all America & Canada celebrated Divine Liturgy in St. Nicholas Patriarchal Cathedral in New York City.
His Beatitude was co-served by the Chancellor of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, Archpriest George Konyev, clerics of St. Nicholas Cathedral and staff of the Chancery of the Orthodox Church in America: Secretary Priest Alessandro Margheritino and Deacon Peter Illchuk.
At the conclusion of the Liturgy on behalf of Bishop Matthew, His Beatitude was greeted by Abbot Nicodemus (Balyasnikov) and in memory of the service on the patronal feast day, presented Metropolitan Tikhon with a liturgical spoon crafted by Russian jewelers. He also conveyed the congratulations on the upcoming feast of the Nativity of Christ and the New Year from His Holiness Patriarch Kyrill and the Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk.
His Beatitude then warmly greeted the parishioners, and also expressed gratitude to the singers, benefactors and the sisterhood of the parish.
After the fraternal meal, His Beatitude visited the cathedral Sunday School, where he blessed the teachers and pupils. The children performed several Christmas carols for their distinguished guest, which they had prepared for the feast of the Nativity of Christ.
Greetings of Metropolitan Tikhon
St Nicholas Cathedral
December 19, 2021
It is a great joy to be with you today at the beautiful and historic St Nicholas Cathedral and to receive your wonderful hospitality. Among the first, I am grateful to His Holiness, Patriarch Kirill, for the blessing to celebrate here today and look forward to traveling to Moscow whenever this becomes possible.
I am also sorrowful that circumstances prevented His Grace, Bishop Matthew from concelebrating with me today but I am grateful for his friendship and his prayers.
I am also grateful to be with all of you, my beloved children, for this great feast. In today’s Gospel, we read that the crowds gathered around the Lord Jesus Christ and “sought to touch him, for power went out from him and healed them all.”
Perhaps, hearing this, we wish that we, too, could have seen Jesus with our eyes, touched him with our hands, and have received healing for the wounds of our bodies, our souls, our hearts.
But of course, the Lord is always present to us, not just spiritually, in our inner being, but physically, through the saints.
Wherever there is sanctity, there is Jesus Christ. And in some cases, in accordance with God’s providence, the holiness of a person is so great that, even after his death, his body remains with us, visibly full of God’s healing grace, always making Christ’s power present in our lives.
This is the case with Saint Nicholas, the patron of your holy temple, whose memory we celebrate today. To this day his relics in Bari, Italy, stream with myrrh, the so-called “manna of Saint Nicholas,” extracted once a year in May. And all year long, his relics are a source of wonders for Christians who pray before them.
But we don’t have to make a pilgrimage to Bari in order to receive the healing of Christ that comes through Saint Nicholas. For though his relics lie in Bari, Saint Nicholas is everywhere in the Spirit, as we sang at last night’s Vespers.
Just as Saint Nicholas’ love for Christ and his fellowman knew no bounds during his life, so Saint Nicholas’ power to intercede before Christ on behalf of the Christian people knows no bounds now.
This accords with the words of the Lord: “The measure you give will be the measure you get back.” When Saint Nicholas received the love of Christ, and the gifts of baptism, chrismation, and ordination, he did not receive them in vain. Instead, he labored to use those gifts for the good, to give Christ back to all his fellowmen through his episcopal ministry, and especially through his extraordinary works of charity.
And the more he gave Christ away, the more Christ Saint Nicholas received. To those who keep the commandments, the Psalmist promises a great reward. And this reward is Christ himself.
Therefore, though Saint Nicholas died some one-thousand seven-hundred years ago, he is now more alive than ever, for he filled up the days of his earthly life with the very Life of the world, Jesus Christ himself. And now, wherever Saint Nicholas is—either bodily through his relics, or in the Spirit—the power and presence of Christ is always with him and in him.
And so, as we celebrate the memory of the saint, and ask for his intercessions—as we ask him to send us the power of Christ to heal us—let us also imitate his love for God the Father and Jesus Christ our Savior.
If we do this, then we will be able to celebrate and experience the power of Christ, revealed in Saint Nicholas, not just one day a year, but all the days of our lives, and even unto the endless ages of eternity, giving all glory to the Father and the Son and the Most Holy Spirit. Amen.