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||    Pope Shenouda    ||    Father Matta    ||    Bishop Mattaous    ||    Fr. Tadros Malaty    ||    Bishop Moussa    ||    Bishop Alexander    ||    Habib Gerguis    ||    Bishop Angealos    ||    Metropolitan Bishoy    ||



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

on you?

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

heart purity.

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

the church…

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

“Catechumens Liturgy”.

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

hear it.

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

14:26, 27).

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

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?

Other Matters

􀂙 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

requires worthiness.

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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