I would like to talk to you today about worthiness, the worthiness of each of us, whether of the Kingdom of Heaven, salvation, communion or even our worthiness of prayer and worthiness of service and priesthood. I will also talk about repentance as a condition for worthiness and about unworthiness as an evidence of repentance.
Worthiness of the Kingdomof Heaven
We sometimes hear within some of the sects
saying someone who says: I am demanding my
rights of Christ’s blood, I am asking for my
inheritance!! We say to such people: What rights do
you have? All what you take is a gift from God that
you paid nothing for. And as the apostle says:
“Being justified freely by His grace” (Ro 3:24). This
is the first point.
The second point is that Christ’s blood is
sufficient for the salvation of everyone in the
whole Earth, but not everyone deserves
salvation. Though the blood is sufficient for
salvation, and that it has unlimited power to save
people, yet it did not save Caiaphas and Herod nor
Judas. It also did not save the non-faithful,
atheists, or those who die in their sins.
So do not say my rights! But ask: who is
worthy and who is not? Who are saved? Who are
those having their names written in the book of
Salvation is given for free to all. But there
are conditions to deserve it. Among these
conditions are: Faith, Repentance, and
Therefore it was said that “He who believes
and is baptized will be saved.” (Mk 16:16), “He who
believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who
does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the
wrath of God abides on him.” (Jn 3:36). It was also
said “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish”
(Lk 13:3, 5).
Salvation was made for everyone. But it is only
worthy for those repenting baptized faithful who do
good deeds. Thus, the Foolish Virgins were not
worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven although they
cried saying “Lord, Lord, open to us!” (Mt 25:11-
13) also those who say to the Lord on the Last Day:
“’Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name,
and done many wonders in Your name?’. And then I
will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart
from me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Mt 7:22,
So salvation was made for everyone, but it is
never gained except by those who are worthy. And
so is filiation.
You say: Isn’t it one of my rights to be called
son of the Lord? Theoretically speaking, you say.
But are you worthy? Jews used to have pride in that
they are sons of Abraham. But the Lord answered
them saying: “If you were Abraham’s children, you
would do the works of Abraham.” (Jn 8:39). What about
you? What are the deeds that show who you are?
The apostle says: “Whoever has been born of
God does not sin… and he cannot sin, because he
has been born of God.” (1Jn 3:9). “In this the
children of God are manifest” (1Jn 3:10) “he who has
been born from God keeps himself, and the wicked one
does not touch him” (1Jn 5:18). Do these aspects apply
Therefore, the Lost Son – in his going back – said to
his father “I am no longer worthy to be called your son”
(Lk 15:19). And so we say in our prayers “Make us
worthy of saying: Our Father in Heaven…”.
You say you are a son, and that is only a fake
title you are holding!
Here is the apostle saying “If you know that He is
righteous, you know that everyone who practices
righteousness is born of Him.” (1Jn 2:29). Are you like
Let not filiation be a matter of vain pride from
us, while practically we do not deserve it. The son
is similar to his father. Are those sinning similar
to their father?!
God – out of his humbleness – allowed us to pray.
But are we worthy of standing in front of God and talk
to him?! Our father Abraham in his humbleness said: “I
who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself
to speak to the Lord” (Gn 18:27).
Therefore we say: Make us worthy to pray; May my
praye r come to your presence. That is because there
are a lot of non-answered prayers.
Therefore we also say in the ninth hour absolution
“May our prayers on all times and the prayer of this
hour… be acceptable in front of You”. We also say in the
parts of the ninth hour prayer: “May my begging come
in front of you Lord, as you said make me understand.
May my prayer come to your presence; as your word
bring life to me.” And in the absolution of the third hour
we say: “Bring our prayers to you…”.
The subject of worthiness also include communion.
It appears clearly in the first Epistle to Corinthians,
where the Apostle warns from taking communion when
He says: “Therefore whoever eats this bread or
drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner
will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of
the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and
drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks
judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.
For this reason many are weak and sick among you,
and many sleep” (1Co 11:27-30).
Communion is offered to all people, but it is not
acceptable for the unworthy go for it. We pray in the
Holy Liturgy saying:
“Make us worthy, O our Master, to partake of
Your holies unto the purification of our souls,
our bodies and our spirits”. We also say: “Make us
worthy, O our Master, to partake of Your holies unto
the purification of our souls, our bodies and our spirits
and for the forgiveness for our sins and iniquities”.
And that’s why the priest – before the Holy
Liturgy – washes his hands and says: “I wash my
hands with purity and not with water”. And he also
says to the Lord: “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall
be clean; Wash me and I shall be whiter than s now.”
White Clothes that priests and deacons wear
to the Holy Liturgy is symbol of their internal
As was said in Revelation Book “Around the
throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones
I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white
robes;” (Rev 4:4). “For the fine linen is the righteous
acts of the saints” (Rev 19:8). Therefore, angels
appeared in white clothes (Jn 20:12). And so were
the righteous (Rev 3:4) (Rev 7:9).
It is a serious and scary statement that St Ava Tiji
[That who partakes communion should have
an interior as pure as the interior of St Mary
where she conceived the Lord].
It is not a simple phrase at all. But it gives us an
idea of preparing for communion or worthiness of it…
Anyways it shows us to what level of self inspection
was that saint talking about worthiness of
communion… Purity of body and soul and fasting are
also conditions to deserve communion…
Also making peace with people as much as
possible is also a condition.
St Paul the Apostle said about this: “If it is
possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably
with all men” (Ro 12:18).
And as the Lord said: “Therefore if you bring your
gift to the altar, and there remember that your
brother has something against you, leave your gift
there before the altar, and go your way. First be
reconciled to your brother” (Mt 5:23, 24).
Therefore we pray the Reconciliation Prayer at the
beginning of the Liturgy so that we be worthy of
communion and we say in it: “And make us all
worthy, O our Master, to greet one another with a
holy kiss, that without falling into condemnation, we
may partake, of Your immortal and heavenly gift in
Christ Jesus our Lord”.
Believe me my brothers: If all people
partaking communion each and every one of
thousands and tens of thousands are worthy,
the Lord would have been doing wonders with
people and grace would have been prevailed in
But unfortunately: so many people are partaking
communion with true repentance. An evidence of that
is that each of them comes out of communion with
his same nature, same mistakes and same used
expressions he used to say!
And you ask that person: what did communion
change in you?! Or has it just become a habit for
you?! Without inspection of whether you worth it.
When Prophet Samuel planned to offer a sacrifice
in Bethlehem said to the house of Jesse: “Sanctify
yourselves, and come with me to sacrifice” (1S 16:5).
The phrase that this great prophet said reminds us of
the priest crying at the liturgy saying: “The holies for
the holy.” That’s why we call the communion liturgy
the “Holy Liturgy” to distinguish it from the
In the Catechumens Liturgy they listen to Holy
readings from Epistles, Acts, Synexarion, Psalms and
the Gospel and then a sermon. They then leave and
no one stays at the church other than those who will
partake communion, the holy… Then, the veil of the
altar is removed and the liturgy of the holy start.
If that is what we say about the preparation and
worthiness of normal people, then what can we say
about the preparation and worthiness of priests
the altar servants?
A priest starts his service with (the preparation
prayer) in which he says:
“You, O Lord, know my unworthiness, my
unfitness, and my unmeetness, unto this, Your holy
service; and I have no boldness that I should draw
near and open my mouth before Your holy glory; but
according to the multitude of Your tender-mercies,
pardon me a sinner, and grant unto me that I may
find grace and mercy at this hour…”. He also says: “O
You, our Lord, make us meet, in the power of Your
Holy Spirit, to finish this service; so that without
falling into condemnation before Your great glory, we
may offer up unto You a sacrifice…”
May the priests attending with us gather the
phrase “without falling into condemnation” and
all similar phrases from the liturgy prayers…
A priest also says “O Lord, give me the purity of
body and soul, to deserve to come to Your holy altar,
and to offer gifts and spiritual sacrifices for my sins
and ignorances of Your people”… he also says:
“Because of my own sins and the abomination of my
heart, deprive not Your people of the grace of Your
Holy Spirit”. This last phrase used to be said inaudibly
but ever since I started my current service in
priesthood, I started saying it audibly so that people
The problem is that most priests consider
that worthiness for the service of the altar is
worthiness because of the grade and the job
and not because of spiritual life!
Truly – from the legal point of view – as long as
hands were laid on him and he became a priest, he
can pray liturgies. But what about his worthiness
Worthiness of the Christ
Our Master, the Lord says: “He who loves father
or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he
who loves son or daughter more than Me is not
worthy of Me” (Mt 10:37).
More than that, he also says: “If anyone comes to
Me and does not hate… and his own life also, he
cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his
cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (Lk
So how much do we deserve the Lord? How much are
we worthy to be his disciples?
Do not say then: As long as I have believed and
got baptized it is over!! No, there is also the condition
of having fruits as well…
The gospel says “Every tree which does not bear
good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Mt
3:10).The Lord also says “You will know them by their
fruits” (Mt 7:16). And He says “I chose you and
appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and
that your fruit should remain” (Jn 15:16). So what is
your fruit, you believer? Is it permanent?
Of course deeds are the fruit of faith. There is a
serious verse saying: “Him who knows to do good
and does not do it, to him it is sin” (Jas 4:17).
And of course the sin forbids from the Heaven
Kingdom. And there is also another condition for
reaching the Heaven Kingdom and it is:
Wedding garment is the white clothes; it is the
righteous acts of the saints. It is as St Paul the
Apostle said “walk worthy of the calling with which
you were called…” (Eph 4:1). And we say in the ninth
hour absolution: “Grant us to walk as is fit for the call
that we were called to. So that if we come out of this
body, we are counted among the worshipers whom
are worthy of the sufferings of Your Only Son Jesus
Christ, our Lord; and we may win mercy and
forgiveness from our sins”.
And from the seriousness point of view of
the wedding garment, the Lord says in his
Parable of the Wedding Feast:
“But when the king came in to see the guests, he
saw a man there who did not have on a wedding
garment… Then the king said to the servants, bind
him hand and foot, pick him away and cast him into
outer darkness…” (Mt 22:11-13)
And among the messages that the Lord sent to
the seven churches, he said to the angel of the
church in Sardis: “You have a few names even in
Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they
shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy” (Rev
Wedding garments are white clothes, unclean.
Those who wear them are worthy to walk with the
Lord in the righteous retinue.
Finally, imagine, my brothers, that there are
many other matters; matters that we may have never
imagined that we can classify under the subject of
worthiness. So what are they?
Even life needs worthiness.
Thus we say in the sunset absolution: “We thank
you, our merciful King because you granted us to
pass this day peacefully. And made us worthy of
seeing the light till the evening”. This means that God
gave use worthiness to continue living till the
Entering the Lord’s House also requires
In the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector,
we find that the tax collector “standing afar off, would
not so much as raise his eyes to heaven” (Lk 18:13)
feeling unworthy… He reminds us of what Prophet
David said in the psalm “But as for me, I will come
into Your house in the multitude of Your mercy” (Ps
5:7). He feels that he is unworthy to enter the Lord’s
House. And that his entrance is an act of Lord’s
Also blessing and peace require worthiness:
The Lord said to his apostles: “whatever city or
town you enter, enquire who in it is worthy and stay
there till you go out. And when you go into a
household, greet it. If the household is worthy, let
your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let
your peace return to you” (Mt 10:11-13).
Even listening to the bible requires
worthiness as well.
Thus the priest says in the prayer for the Gospel:
“May we be worthy to hear and to act according to
Your holy gospels through the prayers of Your saints”.
So not only acting according to commandments
requires worthiness, but also only listening to them
requires it… It is a blessing from the Lord to make us
worthy to listen to His words…
No doubt that Elder Baptism requires
Currently, in the case of marriage between
different sects, we require from the non-Orthodox
side to join in and get baptized. Yet in early ages they
used to put baptism seekers among the classes for
Catechumens to get lessons in faith. The priest says
in the prayer for Cate chumens: “… And in the specific
day may they deserve the bath of the new birth for
the forgiveness of their sins”. The grace of baptism
Finally: Feeling of unworthiness is an
evidence of humbleness.
John the Baptist, who was the greate r among
those born of women (Mt 11:11), he said about the
Lord Jesus Christ “whose sandal strap I am not
worthy to stoop down and loose.” (Mk 1:7).
Also the Centurion who asked the Lord to heal his
servant said to him: “I am not worthy that You should
come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my
servant will be healed.” (Mt 8:8).
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