Honoring Christ

Do you wish to honor the Body of the Savior? Do not despise it when it is naked. Do not honor it in church with silk vestments while outside it is naked and numb with cold. For he who said ‘This is my Body,’ and made it so by His word, is the same one who said, ‘You saw me hungry, and gave me no food. As you did not do it to the least of these, you did not do it to me. Honor him then by sharing your property with the poor. For what God needs is not golden chalices but golden souls.

–St. John Chrysostom

In the Paschal season, it seemed especially appropriate to have an icon of Christ on the cover of In Communion. It is a newly painted image by the iconographer Konstantin Zlatev whom I had the good fortune to meet in San Francisco in February. Side by side with the icon are the words of St. John Chrysostom on the unbreakable connection existing between Christ and all who are in need. If we do not recognize Christ in the beggar outside the church, we will not meet him in the chalice.

The last issue of In Communion included as essay by Metropolitan John of Korça on “Ethnic Conflicts and the Orthodox Church.” In this issue there is an interview with Metropolitan John in which he echoes St. John Chrysostom’s basic theme:”There is no Christian community where there is no service of love. If we fail to respond to those who suffer, we turn our back on Christ. I will not be congratulated by God for writing a fine book about theology. I will be asked: ‘What about that poor old woman you ignored?’”

Joel Klepac, an OPF member doing volunteer service with street children in Romania, also writes about the intimate link between Eucharistic life and service to those who have been abandoned. Through those wounded young people, Joel writes, “God physically touches me with his wound-striped hand.”

Not least of importance in this issue is HPléne Arjakovsky-Klépinin’s portrait of her father, the priest Dimitry Klépinin, who worked in Paris with Mother Maria Skobtsova when the city was under occupation, helped save many lives, and finally died a martyr’s death in a concentration camp. This coming weekend Nancy and I will be in the for his glorification (in the very cathedral in which Fr. Dimitry was ordained) along with Mother Maria and others who gave an heroic witness to recognizing, welcoming and serving Christ in others. May the example they gave become more and more typical of Orthodox response in our suffering world.

We once again appeal for your help to keep the Orthodox Peace Fellowship going. Subscription payments alone are not enough. Especially now that we have a staff person on each side of the Atlantic, we need to substantially enlarge our base of support. Please send a donation. There is already a community of donors who make monthly or quarterly donations. Might you join that core group? Without their help, OPF would have achieved much less. Could you manage $15 a month? Or $20? It would make such an enormous difference in our capacity to serve the Church. Please help us take the next step forward.

in Christ’s peace,

Jim Forest

OPF co-secretary