The 28th October (for the Hellenic people around the world) marked the remembrance of ‘Όχι (No) Day’ referring to a triumphant response against oppression and thus a day dedicated to glorifying God, with thanksgiving, for the freedom brought about by this response.
As His Eminence, our Archbishop Nikitas wrote in His Encyclical, ‘We think of the masses who went to the streets and showed their support for the decision to say “OXI – NO!” to oppression. This day is a celebration for all people who value and honour the treasured ideals that have been preserved and handed down to us and we must share these with the younger generation…In every moment and time of injustice and in the struggle for truth and honour, the Church has gathered her children to stand up and defend truth and She now invites them to hear the stories of the past and also to sing praises to God in thanksgiving for the gift of freedom.’ (Encyclical on the Occasion of OXI Day)
What do we, as Orthodox Christians, thus say ὈΧΙ’ to?
If we are still at school we are called to say NO to any form of bullying or discrimination, for every human person is, according to our faith, holy and in God’s image, whose freedom and respect should be protected. If we see any form of oppression, perhaps racial, cultural, or religious, are we to be indifferent and passive or are we to be a witness to the justice and sacrificial love of our Lord and God? His All Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch, at an Ecumenical Prayer service at the ‘Basilica di Santa Maria in Ara coeli’ in Rome, recently stated ‘Let our unanimous appeal banish the darkness of evil, terrorism and violence and let this era – wounded by the pandemic – push us to seek, together, a cure for all evil.’
The cure for evil is Christ Himself, Who trampled down upon death and all evil in His own death and Resurrection. If we are to accept and follow Him (through the Eucharistic and sacramental life of the Church) then we must, in turn, say NO to any forms of injustice, sin, human slavery, indifference and oppression and support our suffering sisters and brothers who need our Christ-like care and support.
Suggested Scriptural Readings:
+ Hebrews 13:3: ‘Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.’
+ Isaiah 58:6-7: No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
+ Philippians 4:13: God will strengthen us all as we seek to obey Him in all we do!