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April 22, 2022

Homily for Great Friday Before the Holy Shroud (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)

 By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin (1807-1869)

"My mouth is silent, my tongue does not speak, but my heart speaks."

The lips of our Savior are silent, the tongue does not speak, but the heart speaks. What does it tell us? Listen, sinner! Listen to what your Savior is telling you from the tomb.

“Do you see how much I love you? I'm lying dead, for you; for your salvation I died. You are too afraid, you think that it is already impossible for you to be saved, you sometimes completely despair of your salvation. I knew this beforehand, I knew it even before you were born; I knew that you would be much afraid for your salvation, that you would sometimes despair of your salvation. All sinners are like that. When they sin, they are not afraid of anything, they don’t think about anything, and when they sin, they immediately begin to be afraid of everything - they think that they have already died, that there is no salvation for them, there will be no forgiveness for them.

I knew this in advance about you, sinner, and therefore I died beforehand, when you not only did not sin, but were not yet born. I died in order to assure by My death, to reassure you, so that you would not be afraid for your salvation, so that you would not despair of your salvation. Yes, for those who think that it is impossible for them to be saved, I died. I would not die for you if I knew that you would not despair of your salvation. Your desperation for salvation made Me die for you. Do you see how much I love you! It was hard for me to suffer. You heard how I grieved, mourned, almost reached despondency in the garden of Gethsemane. What made me go?

The thought of you, sinner, the desire to save you. When, amidst my spiritual sorrows, I remembered you, I remembered that My sufferings are necessary for your eternal salvation, that without My death it is impossible for you to rest from your sins, that if I do not go to suffer, then you will forever have to suffer, endure suffering for your sins - as soon as I remembered this, I immediately went, willingly went to suffer for you, to fulfill the will of My Father. You see how much I love you.

It was hard for Me after, when they began to judge Me. They blamed Me for everything, although I was not to blame for anything; they beat Me for everything: I was silent - they beat me, I spoke - they beat me; and they beat, and spat, and slapped, and scoffed, and laughed; finally, they put me on a par with the villains, they crucified Me with the robbers. It was hard for me to hang on the cross; My head was in a prickly crown of thorns, My hands and feet were nailed, I suffered terribly - and did not meet compassion in anyone; those who were Mine stood afar off and did not dare to approach Me. It was so hard for Me then that I could not help but sigh, so as not to cry loudly to My Father: My God, My God! why have You forsaken Me? (Matthew 27:46).

What made me endure such suffering? What made Me endure these torments, these spittings, and beatings, and the cross, and death? All the same thought, the same desire - the thought of you, sinner, the desire to save you from sins. I will suffer, endure, forebear - I thought this in the midst of suffering - but sinners, My people, will not suffer, endure, forebear. Yes, My desire to save you, sinner, so inspired Me when I suffered that I longed for more suffering, if only to save you from suffering.

Do you see how much I love you, sinner? No one loves you more than I do, I laid down My life for you. I loved you so much, I suffered so much for your salvation, when you were not yet born, when you had not yet sinned, when you had not yet asked for your salvation and mercy. Will I not save you now that I see that you are perishing? Can I not save when I hear that you are praying for your salvation, can I not have mercy when you ask for mercy for yourself? Shall I not save and have mercy on you, when I Myself, without your calling, volunteered to save and have mercy on you? For the sake of Me, for the sake of My love for you, for the sake of My suffering for your peace and salvation, do not despair of your salvation. Do not be afraid to ask for forgiveness, never be afraid, no matter how great your sins are. I will save you and have mercy."

Here it is, Christian listeners, for what purpose now the Holy Church solemnly, with all the details, remembers the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ: to calm, assure us sinners that Jesus Christ will save and have mercy on us, in spite of any of our sins. Amen.