February 27, 2022

Homily Three for the Sunday of the Last Judgement (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on February 24, 1952)

Like two wings, our two deepest aspirations lift us above all creation: the desire for immortality and the desire for truth. From time immemorial, ever since the thinking human race has existed, people have been tormented by the oppressive question: What is happening on earth? Why do evil people prosper, while kind, meek, quiet people are persecuted and suffer? There was no answer to this question, but there will be - it will be when the Lord and God will begin His terrible and righteous judgment.

For thousands and thousands of years, the tears of the offended and persecuted have been flowing unceasingly, and if all these tears were collected and poured into the seas, the seas would burst their shores and flood the whole land. And with God, all the tears of innocent sufferers are numbered.

How many atrocities have there been during all this time, from deep, deep antiquity. There were as many, if not more, than grains of sand in all the deserts of the earth.

And until now, as in all times, the terrible cry of the unfortunate Korean people, who have been exterminated by the Americans and their allies for a year and a half, rushes to the heavens. And God hears, He hears these terrible cries.

Saint John the Theologian in his Revelation writes that he saw under the throne of God souls beheaded for the word of God and he heard how they cried out to God: “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” (Rev. 6:10).

And all those countless martyrs who lived later than John the Theologian, do they not still cry out to God for vengeance for those terrible tortures, for those torments that they bore for the name of Christ?

They cry out, they cry out, and these cries are constantly raised to God.

But the Lord God is surprisingly long-suffering, and it seems strange and incomprehensible to us why He still does not take revenge on all the villains, why He suffers flagrant evil on earth. Saint John the Theologian received the following answer to this question from God: "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (Rev. 22:11-12).

The Lord is patient, the Lord is waiting for that terrible time about which He foretold: "When the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?"

The atrocities of the merciless and evil never cease, and there will be a never-ending retribution for their atrocities.

If I say that our soul does not tolerate, does not endure in any way that the villains go unpunished, that the righteous are always oppressed, then this means that immortality is absolutely necessary and absolutely obligatory - immortality for the evil and for the righteous, for only under this condition, they can receive eternal retribution, which they did not receive in this earthly life.

Do you not hear every day in the Beatitudes the fourth commandment: "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied."

Oh, how much truth is needed! Oh, how unbearable it would be to live in the world if there were no eternal and unconditional truth!

If the Lord Jesus Christ satisfies those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, if He promises that they will be satisfied, then when? Only in the Kingdom of Heaven.

"Blessed be those who are exiled for the sake of righteousness: for them is the Kingdom of Heaven." Oh, how many were exiled for the truth, for the name of Christ! Oh, how endless, how necessary is the multitude of these confessors of Christ! And they are told that as a reward for their suffering they will receive the Kingdom of Heaven. There will be the Kingdom of Heaven, in which they will receive a reward. The eternal truth of God will shine over the sinful world, which has reached the point of penitence.

“Blessed are you, when they reproach you and betray you, and they say all sorts of evil words against you for My sake. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven." In heaven, in eternal life - there they will receive in great joy retribution for the mockery of their faith, for those persecutions for the word of God that they were subjected to on earth.

The Judgment of Christ will be truly terrible. The Judgment of Christ will be just, for it is impossible to trample on the great law of love and truth with impunity.

It will be terrible already because innumerable myriads of people who have lived everywhere from the creation of the world will gather at this judgment, for if they have never heard the gospel of Christ, then the Apostle Paul says that after all “they are without excuse” , i.e. they have no justification, because nature itself reveals God to us in everything, and they could understand and see clearly the providence of God, which governs everything.

You heard in today's Gospel reading how our Lord Jesus Christ will judge people at His Last Judgment, you heard that He will give eternal retribution to those righteous who have always done deeds of love and mercy, and that He will send into the eternal fire those who were not merciful.

Why, why, why will our Lord and God Jesus Christ judge people only by this sign of mercy or mercilessness? Because mercy is the most important expression of love, love for people, compassion for them.

And who is full of love, who does works of mercy?

Only those who loved the most living Love - God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ, who loved the world so much that for the sake of saving it in terrible torments He voluntarily gave His life on the terrible Cross.

And why will those who have never done works of mercy to anyone be sent to eternal fire?

Because they did not have any love, and whoever does not have love is guided by the law of hatred and enmity.

For there are two paths in life, one of which is chosen by each according to his own free will. There is a way to follow goodness and truth; there is another terrible path of following evil and untruth.

You know that in the whole universe and in all human life everything always happens according to the great law of continuous development. Nothing remains the same, everything flows, everything changes, as the great sage of antiquity said. Everything develops, everything improves. And if a person has chosen the path of goodness and truth and steadily walked along it further and further, then he, throughout his life, creating truth and goodness, improves his spirit in this direction and becomes worthy to continue in this on his own in eternal life. He will continue in development when he hears from the Terrible Judge: "Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matt. 25:34).

In this kingdom, in the kingdom of eternal truth, in the light of Divine love, his spirit will endlessly develop in the same direction in which the spirit of the righteous developed on earth, and in this will be their eternal joy, their eternal bliss. And is it really not fair to say that if a person chose the path of evil and untruth, then his heart and mind in this life developed and improved in evil and untruth? And if so, then in eternal life he continues to develop in the same direction. And where, if not there, in the terrible place prepared for the devil and his angels, will he continue his further development? Of course, with the devil and his angels.

Oh, my God, my God, how terrible it is! Oh, my God, my God, how awful! How amazingly terrible is the fate of those who have chosen the path of evil!

We will be afraid, we will all be afraid, we will leave the path of evil, we will choose the path of truth and goodness.

What does it mean to choose the path of truth? It means to fulfill the whole law of Christ, for all truth is contained in this holy law of God.

May we all follow this path, the path of Christ, the path of truth to where eternal truth dwells.

Let us sing along with the holy prophet and psalmist David: “God of vengeance, Lord, God of vengeance, reveal yourself! Arise, Judge of the earth, repay the proud. How long, O Lord, will the wicked, how long will the wicked triumph? They spew bold speeches; all those who do iniquity are magnified; they trample down your people, O Lord, they oppress your inheritance” (Ps. 93:1-5).

But this will not be so: the Lord-Avenger will rise, the Lord will come, Who came for the first time as a Lamb to the slaughter, preaching love, meekness and mercy - this time  He will come as a Terrible Judge, will come with huge hordes of heavenly angels and will begin His Last Judgment. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.