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April 24, 2022

Homily at the First Paschal Vespers (St. Luke of Simferopol)

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on April 20, 1952)

You have just heard the Gospel story about the first appearance of the Risen Lord to His disciples.

What was the first word the disciples heard from the Lord? That first word was: "Peace be with you!"

It is natural to expect that the first word spoken by the Lord after His resurrection from the dead to His disciples will be the deepest, most important, most necessary word for them. And that word was: "Peace be with you!" Three times He repeated this great greeting: "Peace be with you!"

And if this first word of His after the Resurrection was repeated by Him three times, then does this not mean that a huge, truly deep meaning is contained in this word: “Peace be with you!”?

This means that the peace that Christ gave them was the most important blessing for them, the most valuable gift.

Even earlier, during His lifetime, the Lord Jesus Christ said this to His disciples: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27).

He did not give us a peace at all like this world, inhabited by people, this world full of lies.

Peace received from the world, and not from God, is a shaky, unfaithful, wavering peace, which again and again turns into war. This world coexists in the human heart with enmity, and with malice, and with hatred.

The peace that people expect not from God, but from this world, is a worthless peace, giving nothing to the heart.

From this world, there is no rest in the human heart.

And the peace that Christ gives, gives us a deep, complete, everlasting and undisturbed peace.

Such is the peace of all the saints, the peace of their hearts reassured by the Lord.

They don't care about anything, nothing that happens in the world that they have renounced.

They are not interested in the events of worldly life, they live their own deep inner life, the life of a spirit pacified by God.

This is the kind of peace, a peace undisturbed by anything, that Christ gives to His disciples and to those who are capable of being counted among His friends.

No one can take away this peace, for it is given by God Himself.

When the Lord Jesus Christ sent His disciples to preach, He told them: “Whichever house you enter, first say: 'peace to this house.' And if there be a son of peace, your peace will rest on him; but if not, then it will return to you” (Luke 10:5,6).

See how amazing the words of this greeting of the apostles are! The word of greeting "Peace to you" has some kind of independent life, it lives, it moves, it enters the heart of a person who will accept it, who himself is a son of peace, who is worthy of God's peace. Then peace will rest on him.

And if this is not the son of peace, if a person is far from God, then the peace taught by the apostles will return to them.

It is as if there is living life in this word: "Peace be with you."

It acts independently, it can take root in a person's heart, it may not take root, it can return to the one who taught peace.

This is how great is the depth of this first word of Christ addressed to the apostles: "Peace be with you!"

If the peace of God is so important, if every person needs it so much, then shouldn't we say that the attainment of peace is the great goal of every Christian, every person?

How can we win peace?

How to arrange your heart in such a way that the peace given to us by the apostles and by Christ Himself rests in us?

The answer to this question is found in the Holy Prophet Isaiah: “Oh, that you would heed My commandments! Then your peace would be like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea” (Isaiah 48:18).

Listen, if you fulfilled the commandments of Christ, the peace of God would be like a river, it would fill your whole being and give complete and unconditional peace.

Whoever among you reads the epistles of the holy apostles, he probably paid attention to the fact that all the epistles, except for the 14th epistle to the Hebrews and the universal epistle of James, begin with the same words, the teaching of the peace of God.

The apostles taught peace to those who read their epistles. Through the mouths of the apostles, this living, this active, this moving peace dwells in our hearts.

If the significance of this apostolic word is so great, shouldn't this be an incentive for you to read the epistles?

Read, read, feast on what you find in their holy writings, for there is nothing there except what was commanded by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. They only explained with great depth the meaning of the words of Christ and His commandments.

And then, according to the word of the Prophet Isaiah, peace, like a river, will flow into your hearts, and there will be complete peace in them.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.