Homily for the Feast of SS Cyril & Methodius
Wednesday, February 13th, 2008 (translated from Feb 14th)
Holy Trinity Anglican Church, Thornhill
The Rev. Daniel F. Graves
Text: 2 Corinthians 4:1-6
“Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart.” 2 Corinthians 4:1
Cyril and Methodius, who died in AD 869 and 895, respectively, have come to be known as the apostles to the slavs. It was Cyril and Methodius, two brothers of the Byzantine nobility, who brought the Gospel into Moravia and other parts of Central Europe. As we learn from Fr. Stephen Reynolds in For All the Saints, they were sent to this area because of their fluency in Slavonic. As a result, Cyril developed a writing system so that the native Slavs could write in their own language. As Fr. Reynolds explains, this led to the translation of Scripture into the native tongue of the people as well as the development of a unique Slavonic liturgy, which continues to be influence both Eastern Catholic and Orthodox liturgy to this day. And of course, the contribution of the Cyrillic alphabet has been far-reaching.
After Cyril’s death, the Franks attempted to undo much of his work and it was through the perseverance of his brother Methodius and subsequent followers that the work took root and endured. It would have been easy for the brothers and their followers to lose heart, but surely they must have meditated on today’s text from 2 Corinthians, “Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart.” Surely, it was by God’s mercy that they engaged in their ministry and surely it was God’s will and God’s purpose that they should succeed. Against the gravest odds they did not lose hope. Even after the loss of his brother, Methodius knew that God was faithful and through the faithfulness of God, he persisted in his task and call to ministry.
We may never be called to create and alphabet so that Scripture might be read in a native tongue, or devise a liturgy for the faithful of a particular nation (although we have such saints in our own Church of Canada, such as Bishop Horden who did much the same work amongst the native peoples as did Cyril and Methodius amongst the Slaves). However, each of us is called to a particular ministry. Perhaps it is to care for a loved one as they age or experience illness. Perhaps it is work with those in need in your neighbourhood. Perhaps it is to walk with a friend in their grief. You alone know the ministry to which God calls you. Whatever this ministry may be, there will be times when it will be difficult to fulfill it, when the task seems overwhelming, when it might seem easier to give up. Yet, we know that the ministry is not our own, but God’s. We are but partners in the sacred task, and the real minister is God, who through his mercy will not forsake us, abandon us, or forget us. Rather God will walk with us and indeed, go before us. The faithfulness he offered to Cyril and Methodius is a faithfulness he offers to each of us. Therefore, we do not lose heart for we know we walk with a faithful God.
Text copyright the Rev. Daniel F. Graves, 2008. This homily may not be reproduced or redistributed, either in whole or part, by any means, without the express written permission of the author.