March 17, 2014


By Metropolitan Ephraim of Boston, Bishop Gregory of Brookline and Thomas Deretich (HOCNA)

By the term “Name of God,” Orthodox Christians mean two things: 1) We mean the revealed Truth about God, and, 2) in another sense, we mean also the human, created words by which this revealed Truth is articulated. The eternal, revealed Truth about God exists and will always exist, whether we articulate it in our human language or not. This is what our Saviour intimates to us when in the Gospel of St. John, He tells the Jews:

"But now you seek to kill Me, a Man that has told you the Truth, which I have heard from God." (John 8:40)

No one in his right mind would assert that the Truth which God the Son heard from God the Father was communicated in human words! The communication in the Holy Trinity is entirely ineffable. Yet it is this very Truth, the uncreated and ineffable Truth of God, that our Saviour, when He became man for us, revealed to us in human speech. This is also the very same divine Truth with which the Holy Spirit enlightened the Apostles on the day of Pentecost, in accordance with the promise of our Saviour:

"When He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all Truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak." (John 16:13)

Again, the Truth that the Holy Spirit shall speak and guide Christ’s disciples in, is an ineffable and divine Truth, which He received from the Son. Yet this is the same Truth that the Spirit showed to the Apostles and which they preached with human words in all the known world!

These examples illustrate clearly the two aspects of God’s revelation and the distinction that lies between them: the uncreated and eternal Truth of God’s revelation, and created, human concepts and words with which this revelation is articulated in order to become accessible to the human mind. And this is the very same distinction that exists between the uncreated Name of God, that is, the eternal Truth about God, and the created names of God, that is, human words and concepts, which the Church has taught us to use in order to articulate the eternal Truth about God.

It is exclusively in the former sense, that is, in the sense of the uncreated Truth about God, that we say that the Name of God is an Energy of God, because every revelation of God about Himself, every Truth about God, is His Energy. In the latter sense, that is, in terms of human speech, the names of God are both created and temporal, being part of this world, and they are certainly not an Energy of God.

March 4, 2014


Sermon of Bishop Gregory of Brookline (HOCNA) on the Feast of the Circumcision, 2014,
delivered at Holy Nativity Convent, Boston.
(lightly edited)

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

We have come, dear sisters in Christ, to the eighth day after the Nativity according to the flesh of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, and on this eighth day the Saviour Who became man fulfills the covenant that He gave to His servant Abraham, one of four covenants that He gave to human beings.

The first covenant was that given to Noah, the covenant that was confirmed by the rainbow, saying that there would not be a deluge anymore to punish the iniquities of human beings. And our Saviour fulfilled this covenant because not only was there not a deluge, but water itself was transformed from a means of destruction to the means of salvation through Holy Baptism.

The second covenant He gave to His servant, the father of all the faithful, Abraham. The third covenant was given on Mt. Sinai—the law which was proclaimed by Moses.

And the fourth and final covenant was revealed by our Saviour Himself when He became incarnate of the Virgin Mary. And thus were fulfilled the words of the Prophet Jeremias who said that there will be given another law and another circumcision—not the law written on tablets of stone, but a law written in the hearts of men and circumcision not of the foreskin, but circumcision of the heart. This our Saviour fulfilled by His Incarnation, when He gave us a new law, new life, new commandments—the final covenant.

But today our Saviour is Himself submitting to the covenant that He gave to Patriarch Abraham, being circumcised and named that wonderful and blessed name—Jesus.[1]

When Abraham believed in God and fulfilled everything that God had bidden him, our Saviour gave him the covenant saying that “you shall circumcise the foreskin of all your progeny, and in your seed all nations shall be blessed.”[2] And He changed his name from Abram to Abraham. And truly, in his seed, as Paul the Apostle tells us, in his seed (he uses the singular form of the word in Greek [3]), that is, in our Saviour, all the nations are blessed.

A great thing is revealed today. If we read carefully the homily written by St. Dimitry of Rostov concerning this feast, we shall understand the depth of the wisdom of God. Our Saviour was circumcised, fulfilling the law, but also on this feast He reveals to us a great treasure—the great treasure of that Name by which He will be called from here unto eternity. By all the Angels and men, unto eternity, unto the ages of ages, God the Son will be known as Jesus, the sweetest of names, close to the heart of everyone that believes.

And St. Dimitry of Rostov most beautifully explains that until now, until this Name was revealed, it was [kept as myrrh] in a jar. But on this day of Circumcision the jar was opened, and the Name was spread abroad. And in this was fulfilled that which was written in the Song of Songs by the Prophet and King Solomon; for this whole Song of Songs is a dialogue between the bridegroom and the bride. And the Fathers say that the dialogue is really between Christ, the Bridegroom, and His beloved, the Church. And the Church, the bride, tells our Saviour, “Thy Name is as myrrh spread and poured forth. Therefore the virgins love Thee.”[4] Truly His Name is as myrrh, as fragrant myrrh spread abroad in the whole world, and this begins today.