Homily delivered by Bishop David of Stobija upon his arrival in Johannesburg for the church feast of St. Thomas the Apostle. Loosely translated from here:
(Pictured far left – fellow blogger Deacon Steve Hayes, author of the Khanya blog.)
Dear brothers and sisters, I would like to share with you a thought and feeling I have today here with you in Africa. That thought I consider to be very important and that’s why I wish to share it with you.
They say that hell is the inability of man to love. And truly, in the tradition of the Church we find the most diverse presentations of what hell is and what it looks like. But I think the most accurate presentation of hell is man’s inability to love. This summer I had the blessing of having Fr. Panteleimon visit our monastery. He spoke to me with such love about all of you so that at this moment I feel as if I already know you all. In the eyes and heart of Fr. Panteleimon I saw the great love he has for all of you, he conveyed that love to me and the fathers and monastics and all the people that were at the Divine Liturgy then which was served by Fr. Panteleimon . Filled with that love, we have a momentary foretaste of the Kingdom of Heaven.
For if hell, as we have stated, is man’s inability to love and we see and hear how much Fr. Panteleimon loves you and conveys that love to us then it is truly a foretaste of the Heavenly Kingdom here on earth, and together with that love comes also joy. For believe me, it is not possible for someone to even say that they are an Orthodox Christian unless they are joyful. Love and joy go together. Joy is the foundation of every Christian family, every parish, every monastery.
I greet you with that joy now. That love and joy, joy conveyed to us this past summer by Fr. Panteleimon which we feel for it simply does not cease. I believe we will only multiply that love and that joy of which we now speak in our fellowship during these days, and God grant, I hope that you will all allow us to return that love and joy when you visit us. I speak not only from my lips but my heart that when you come it will be as if you come to your own home and may it all be in glory of the Most Holy and Undivided Trinity, in the name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.