Abp Peter of Alexandria – On Humility

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. Dear beloved, we commemorate the holy Hieromartyr and Archbishop Peter of Alexandria, who was a scholar, teacher and later, bishop of the Alexandrian Church during the difficult times of persecution of the Church during the 4th century. The saint gave us great writings, including “On the Divinity (of Jesus Christ)”, and the “Penitential Canons”.

He was a tireless hierarch who went to encourage persecuted Christians in prison, helped widows and orphans of executed Christians, preached the Gospels, and celebrated Divine Liturgy often. The holy hierarch also spoke out against the heretical teachings of Arius, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. As a bishop, Saint Peter would not sit on the high place, the Cathedra or Bishop’s Throne in the Church, out of humility upon seeing Divine Light surrounding the throne. The saint celebrated the Divine Liturgy beneath the high place.

Eventually, the holy hierarch Saint Peter was arrested and sentenced to death by the orders of the emperor Maximian. The people were outraged by the sentence and threatened to riot. The saint did not want to cause more bloodshed, and told the authorities to execute him secretly. The saint was led away from the back of the building, and was beheaded where Saint Mark the Holy Apostle as executed before, in the year 311.

The next morning, the people discovered the execution of their beloved hierarch, and took his body and head, and brought him to Church. They dressed him in his episcopal vestments, and placed him on the high place of the Church during the funeral service. Saint Peter, holy hierarch of Alexandria, pray for us.

Saint Peter, holy hierarch of Alexandria, has shown us humility, even when he was anointed to lead God’s people, as we reflect on 1 Timothy 3:1-13. The saint understood what it meant to be Christian, especially as we reflect upon Isaiah 57:15-20, where God has encouraged us by telling us that He will take care of us even for the worst of sinners among us, especially telling us that for the meek and broken hearted, He would heal us.

Psalm 131 (LXX 130) showed us that as people of Christ, the virtue that stands out and leads us close to God, is humility. Material offerings pale in comparison when we lift up our hearts in utmost humility unto God, because our humility, becomes the greatest offering to God. The Psalm shows us that all the material attainments and achievements, whereas some might boast to others, become useless before the Throne of God. As Saint Peter of Alexandria and King David showed us, the higher the attainment the person has, the lower his posture should be, before God, and before man.

As we reflect during this season of penance, discipline, and prayer, let us recall the Holy Name of Christ our Lord, Whom we rest our burdens with, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”.

Beloved, we commemorate the Apodosis, or leave-taking of the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos today. Let us pray.

It is truly meet to call thee blest, the Theotokos, ever blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious than the Seraphim, without corruption thou gavest birth to God the Word: True Theotokos, we magnify thee.

O virgin Theotokos, rejoice; O Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Savior of our souls, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Fr Raphael+

Isaiah 57:15-20
Psalm 131 (LXX 130)
St Luke 18:31-34
1 Timothy 3:1-13