April 6, 2021

First Homily for the Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross (St. Luke of Simferopol)


 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and Crimea

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matt. 11:28-30)

Great is the embrace of our Lord Jesus Christ. So big we can't imagine. The Lord has in His arms all those who suffer in their lives from sorrows and tribulations. How deep is His heart and how strong is His love if He can calm, comfort and empower all those who toil and are burdened to endure sorrows and not despair when wronged in their lives.

But the way He tries to do it is strange. He suggests that we leave off what is for many the yoke of the burdens of life and lift another yoke upon us - unknown to the world, gentle, good and light: His own yoke. When we say "yoke" we mean a situation in which a servant is found. Of course, we do not consider this situation pleasant at all. But the Lord calls His own yoke gentle and light.

How are we to understand it? Why is the yoke of Christ gentle and light? Is it because He calls the divine law of His love a yoke which He gives to the world which hardly thinks of love at all? Or because His own word of love opened for humanity, living without love, a new world, a world in which the divine light of love shines that dissolves any darkness? Is it not a great joy to come out of darkness into light? Will not the heart of man tremble when he comes out of darkness and realizes that the Lord Himself is holding him in His arms?

But what does the yoke of Christ finally mean? It means living according to His commandments. To be humble and meek, to thirst and hunger for the highest truth. To be merciful and pure in heart. To be maligned and persecuted for believing in the Son of God and for His love. Yes, that alone means the gentle weight of Christ and His light burden. The power to lift them is given to us by the Cross of Christ, which rises above the world and illuminates it. The Cross on which the Son of God suffered the passion and gave His life for man to live.

Let us venerate the foot of the Cross of Christ with all our souls. This is the gentle yoke of Christ, to follow the path of martyrdom and persecution which leads where the Cross of our Christ shines eternally. Let us follow our Savior and always remember that He who is the true God says of Himself that He is meek and lowly in heart. May we too be meek and humble to follow Him on the road to the Kingdom of eternal Justice and the incorruptible Light. Amen. 

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.