Sunday, June 27, 2021

Homily for the Sunday of All Saints - The Varied Lives of the Saints

By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin (1807-1869)

A Jewish lawyer once asked Jesus Christ: “Master! What should I do to inherit eternal life?"

The question seems to be the simplest, but the answer, listeners, is not easy. Indeed, how are we to be saved, how are we to inherit eternal life? What should we do for this, how should we behave for this? The examples of the saints, of course, could best help us in this case, but these examples are so numerous and varied that you do not know which one to follow: one lived this way, the other differently; one did this, the other did something completely different. One escaped into the desert, the other in the midst of the city noise; one in the temple, the other on the battlefield; one spent days and nights in fasting, the other drank and ate; one took everyone to him, and the other did not let anyone in. In a word, the lives of the saints is varied, and often one is opposite to the other.

So listeners, what must we do to inherit eternal life? Jesus Christ resolved this issue in this way. He said to the lawyer: love God above all, and your neighbor as yourself. Do this and you will live, that is, you will be saved.

But how can we fulfill this law? How can we prove our love for God and our neighbors? Let us solve this question, listeners. Not only to learn and forget, however, but to act according to our will. Let us solve it in short words, so that it is more memorable and understandable.

Live according to your conscience and the law of God. What the conscience forbids and the law of God does not command, this should never be done; on the contrary, what the conscience approves and the law of God commands, that absolutely must be done. Obey your conscience and the law of God.

He who obeys the law of God and his conscience will certainly be saved, no matter where he is and no matter how he lives. You live in the world - live, only live as the law and conscience tell you, and you will save your soul; you have renounced the world - well, live according to conscience and according to the law, otherwise you will not be saved in the wilderness; you drink and eat - then drink and eat, only drink and eat that which the conscience and law approve; you fast - fast, just do nothing against the conscience and the law, otherwise fasting will not save you; you are engaged in trade - trade, only trade as your conscience and the law of God dictate, and you will not destroy your soul; you own slaves, you command slaves - rule and command, only rule and command as your conscience and the law command. You serve and work - know your business, work and serve as the conscience and the law command, and you will be saved. In general, do and act according to your rank and state, but do as the conscience and the law command.

That is why, listeners, the lives of the saints are so varied, why it appears one is opposite to the other, why they were in different circumstances, held different positions, had different titles, lived in different places, that is why they did different things, did not act the same; but they always acted and did everything according to their own conscience and according to the law of God. That is why all have inherited eternal life.

So, listeners, no matter what you do, no matter how you live, wherever you are, act only according to your conscience and according to the law of God - and you will be saved. That which conscience and the law approve, it is always sacred. Amen. 

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