On Strani Hill, in Zakynthos, leaning over the trunk of a tree, he looked out at Messolonghi. He saw the smoke and flames. He may not have been able to hear the actual noise with his ears, but he surely could hear it with the ears of his soul, and his mind, and his spirit. That is how he heard the lament of grief of the children and the women. It was the moment of the heroic exodus from Messolonghi. He saw it from a distance. He heard and felt it all. Our national poet, Dionysios Solomos, lived these dramatic moments and drew inspiration from them. And with mind and hand he started to write our National Anthem:
“Sprung from the sacred bones of the Greeks,
and now robust again, hail, O hail Freedom.”
Mankind never appreciates what it has so much as when it loses it. Ancient Greece, the Greece of Alexander the Great, and Byzantine Greece lived and developed within the God-given boon of Freedom. And when they lost it:
“Fear overcame everything, and suppressed it in bondage”.
The Greeks were wounded. They were bleeding. They were in the deepest of sorrow. They could not bear it. They had lost everything. But they never gave up. They stored their hope in God. They used all of their imagination and all of their ingenuity. They labored body and soul. They received inspiration from the Trojan Horse. They eroded the rock until it was hollowed out, and then, like an irresistible wave shouted:
“Move aside, rock.”
And they demolished the rock. And out of their bones, and their blood, which flowed like a river, and out of their soul bloomed Freedom. From 1821 to today the Greek Nation has undergone many snares, and problems, and wars, and calamities – yet this Nation progresses, breathing the fresh air of freedom, and gaining life from it. And the Greek Nation should never forget the sacrifices of its ancestors, the blood that has been shed, the bones that have been strewn over so many battlefields for the sake of freedom. And above all, the Greek Nation should never forget the true God. In the ears of every Greek should sound the words of Christ: “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.”
You have won your freedom; do not risk it again. Honor your freedom. Work for it. Do not lose it again, because your trials will be even worse, your pain hard to bear, your humiliation despicable. And think not only of your national freedom. Think of your religious freedom, and your personal freedom.
Closely connected to the national holiday is an important Feast of the Church, the Annunciation. With the disobedience of ‘the protoplasts’, Adam and Eve, humanity lost its freedom. Humankind was stripped bare, driven out of paradise and exiled to earth. Humans suffered for years, centuries, millennia. Who knows how long! The Creator was always thinking of humans, however. He desired their return and for them to regain their freedom. He wanted humanity to be restored just as before. That is why He sent the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary and through the Archangel the heavenly greeting was heard: “Rejoice, Mary full of Grace, the Lord is with you.” The Only Begotten Son of God took flesh. He was born. He taught the truth. He was Crucified. He shed His blood, one drop at a time, for the salvation of fallen humanity.
We live in the world after Christ. We have recovered the possibility of returning to our former home, paradise. We have regained the possibility to exercise our freedom and the potential to seek out our salvation. Let us wholeheartedly celebrate the Annunciation of the Theotokos. Let us embrace our recovered spiritual freedom on earth, until we can live it more fully in heaven.
My beloved Christians, as we celebrate in March – all of March – our National Liberation, whatever the celebrations may be let one single thought prevail in the minds of us all. Let us keep our God-given freedom untouched, and let us use it both for ourselves, and for everyone else. Freedom that does not respect the freedom of others is not true freedom. Such freedom does not come from God. Free from everything, especially from sin, let us proceed by our own will giving ourselves to Greece and to Christ. Let us live day after day the good news of salvation, which is the Alpha and the Omega of freedom, from here to eternity. Because:
“It is better to live one hour in freedom
than forty years in slavery and in prison.”
With the good use of our freedom, our Nation can work miracles. Mankind lives on earth, but also unto eternity. With the improper use of freedom, the Nation will be dissolved, and the individual enslaved, both here on earth and in hell. Let us lift ourselves up to what we deserve best, and live the freedom which is:
“Sprung from the sacred bones of the Greeks.”