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January 2, 2022

Homily on New Years Day in 1951 (St. Luke of Simferopol)

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and Crimea

(Delivered on January 1, 1951)

We lived through 1950 by the grace of God. It was overshadowed for us by the loss of our beloved father, Archimandrite Tikhon. This is the will of God!

How will we celebrate the new year of 51? Of course, not in the way that worldly people meet: not with champagne, not with feasts and toasts.

Shall we congratulate each other: "Happy New Year"?

No, we will not, because we do not know what awaits us this year, and this year may turn out to be a terrible and difficult year, because international relations have never been so tense, so formidable as now.

Quite frankly, the countries that are enemies of our state are preparing against us, as well as against all democratic countries, a horrible, most terrible of all wars ever in the world.

From the monstrous atrocities that are being committed in the unfortunate Korean country, we know how terrible, how monstrous this war will be if the Lord allows it to break out, if it does not diminish the fury of our enemies - and it is great and terrible.

What should we do, how should we be, how are we to meet this year of 51? In prayer, in deep, calm prayer: a prayer that the Lord will not allow this unspeakable horror all over the earth, this yet unprecedented bloodshed and mass destruction of people.

For you know, from Holy Scripture, that the Lord sent grave nationwide calamities when the people fell into wickedness, when the people were drowning in sins.

It has always been this way - it has never been otherwise. Serious national disasters and terrible wars have always been God's punishment for the sins of the human race. We read the story of how the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, which reached the limit of sinfulness, were destroyed by God, a terrible earthquake, a volcanic eruption, flooded with fiery lava. This is an example for us.

I want to renew in your memory what was then.

God appeared, glorified in the Trinity, to our forefather Abraham in his tent in the form of three angels. Abraham received them as was proper, with great honor, and when they got up and intended to leave to go to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, he stood before them, and begged, and said to the eldest of the angels: “Maybe there are fifty righteous people in this city? Will you destroy and spare all this place for the sake of the fifty righteous if they are in it? It cannot be that You would do this: that You should destroy the righteous with the wicked, so that it would be the same with the righteous as with the wicked; this cannot be from You!

Will the judge of all the earth act unjustly?"

The Lord said: "If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, then for their sake I will spare the whole city and all this place” ( Gen. 18:24-33).

And even for the sake of ten righteous people, the Lord was ready to spare the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, mired in sins, but there were not even ten there.

Isn't this a lesson for us?

If the apostasy from God in our people has increased so much, if everyone is so mired in sins that the wrath of God threatens to burst into a terrible storm over us, then should we not think that we, the little flock of Christ, must strengthen our prayers to infinity, we must pray with bitter tears not only for the forgiveness of our sins, but also for the forgiveness of the sins of all those who do not pray? Let our ranks make up that small percentage of the righteous, for the sake of which the Lord was ready to spare Sodom and Gomorrah.

If so, then should we not with all the strength of our souls turn to God, bringing praise to Him for keeping us in the longed-for world in the past year and asking, begging with tears to turn His anger away from us, so that this the year 51 will not become a terrible year for us? For the international situation is so tense, so terrible, for we are now threatened by what the holy Apostle John the Theologian saw in his Revelation on the island of Patmos.

For we have the right to think that those terrible apocalyptic horsemen whom he saw are already ready to leave.

“I looked, and, behold, a white horse, and on him a rider who had a bow was given him a crown; and he went out like a conqueror to conquer ...

And another horse came, a red one; and it was given to him who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another; and a great sword was given to him” (Rev. 6:2-9).

They are already killing each other in unhappy Korea, as they are killing in Malaya, Vietnam, Tibet.

“I looked, and behold, a black horse, and on him a rider with a measure in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four animals, saying, a chinix of wheat for a penny, and three chinix of barley for a penny; Do not damage the oil and wine."

What does it mean? This terrible rider was a messenger of a terrible famine on the earth, when such a small measure of wheat will be sold for big money, when the nations die of hunger.

“And I looked, and there was a pale horse, and on it a rider, whose name was 'death'; and hell followed him; and power was given to him over a fourth of the earth - to put to death with the sword and hunger, and with pestilence and the beasts of the earth."

Oh Lord, great Lord! Accept our contrite prayer that this horror that lies ahead of the world, which was seen by the holy Apostle John the Theologian, should not befall us.

And we will all offer up a prayer to the Lord our God, so that this year will be the year of God's grace.

Let us thank God for the fact that in the past year He kept us in the longed-for world.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.