Since my election on 9 May as Archbishop and primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, I have been overwhelmed by the great outpouring of love from you, the faithful members of our church and from the wider Australian community.
I feel humbled by such generosity of spirit. I assure you that I feel the same love towards each one of you. I reflect upon the words of St John’s first letter in order to understand this mystery of communion. Would it come to know and rely on the love God has for us?
God is love and a person who abides in love abides in God and God abides in him.
It is into this communion of love that I invite all of you, wherein we feel humbled by the great love that God has for us, understanding too, that we cannot exist outside of the love God has for us. For this reason we rely upon it so that we can truly understand our existence. To exist from the Greek word υπάρχω literally means that I am under υπό a higher authority and that authority αρχή is God. Therefore, if all of us emulate God in a loving disposition to all, without discrimination, we will abide in God and He in us.
And this, my dear friends, will be our fulfilment – a true and genuine and authentic existence in God. I then come as your shepherd and father, sent by the mother church of Constantinople as a successor to the highly esteemed theologian, poet, prolific writer and great shepherd – Archbishop Stylianos of best memory; who toiled the earth of this great and vast land and yielded many good crops during his 44-year tenure. To his great legacy I pay tribute and respect.
In like manner, I too, have come to lay down my life for the people entrusted to me. In these weeks since my arrival and enthronement, I have met many people and have seen thousands and I look forward to meeting more, to greeting you the people of Melbourne in this great city which has the largest Greek population of any city of the world outside Greece.
You have had the great blessing to have had gifted spiritual fathers and leaders in the presbyters and bishops in this, the second archdiocese of the district. His Grace Bishop Ezekiel of Dervis has been the assistant Bishop of Melbourne for 35 years. He is known as a humble, strong, caring, considerate and learned leader who has served the church well since the time of his graduation from the Theological School of Halki. I also acknowledge the efforts and the good work of His Grace Bishop Iakovos of Miletoupolis, a graduate of St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological College, who is known for his humility, vigilance and love for the people of God.
It is only ever possible for the leader to excel if he or she has good coworkers, and I therefore acknowledge also the gifted presbyters who have supported the bishops but have also done exemplary work in the parishes and broader community. It is to this broader community of Australia to which I turn my attention and encourage all of the faithful within the church to do also – to embrace and invite into the church the people who have not learnt of or experienced the treasures of Orthodoxy, the spiritual of our church which is the antidote, the remedy for the people who thirst who yearn for spirituality and are still looking.
When I presented myself before his All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and the members of the Holy synod who elected me. They asked for a ‘small message’ – I promised them to preserve what I received, but also to multiply these gifts. I can only do this with the Grace of God, the support of my clergy, the assistance of the many people of God and of course, the assistance of my bishops and the strength God has given to me.
I promise to you all that I will be your father, a brother and a friend, at all times ready and willing to support you and provide you with whatever I have, my whole being.
- Transcript of Archbishop Makarios’ first sermon at St Eustathios Church, South Melbourne, on 3 August.