December 6, 2021

Homily for the Feast of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)

 By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

"The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep" (John 10:11).

This is what good shepherds are like: they spare nothing for their flock, they are ready to lay down their very lives for them. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. Such was the life of the Holy and Wonderworker Nicholas, whose memory is now glorified by the Holy Church! Not thinking about his peace of mind, he flew as if he had wings to help everyone; forgetting himself, he cared day and night for the salvation of all.

Such are the good shepherds, and so should we all be. Shepherds sacrifice themselves for their flock, and we must sacrifice ourselves for each other. Yes, we certainly must, for we only keep what we sacrifice, we only keep what we give to others, in this we ourselves will live in the future life, according to that which we do now for our neighbors.

Yes, listeners, it will never perish, it will return to us in abundance, what we use for the benefit of others, what we do for our neighbors. With the seeds the farmer sows the land, those remain with him, for they grow and bear fruit when decaying, and what seeds he leaves with himself, what he does not use, they disappear forever, irrevocably. This happens and will happen to us. Our neighbors are the land in which we sow seeds for the future; in them, as in treasuries for the future, everything that we sacrifice towards them, what we give them is preserved for us. The farmers will not harvest the fruits, they will die of hunger if they themselves eat all their seeds, and leave the land unseeded. So we will not leave anything for ourselves for the future, if we spend our abilities and strengths, our wealth and gain only on ourselves, but we will not do good to our neighbors.

So, when you yield something to others, when you sacrifice something to your neighbors, then do not worry, it does not disappear. God, who gives seed to the sower and bread for food, will give abundance to what you have sown and will multiply the fruits of your righteousness (2 Cor. 9:10). If people were watching our donations, our deeds, then we could doubt the reward for them. But God Himself looks after them. God Himself keeps our donations, can they not be preserved? God Himself waters our seeds, can they fail to grow? God is a guarantee that ours will not be lost, can anything therefore be lost? No, the glass of water that we give to our neighbor will not be forgotten, and the affectionate word that we say to another will not be lost in vain, and also fathom of land that we will cede to our neighbor.

But you will say: how and with what will we ourselves live here, when we begin to concede everything, we will sacrifice everything to others? We will live, listeners, without any need we will live: in this we are guaranteed by God, in whose hands is the wealth of the whole world.

So, let us sacrifice ourselves for each other, then we and others and everyone will be fine. Amen.