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April 10, 2022

Fourth Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Great Lent (St. Luke of Simferopol)

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered in 1959)

We know from the book of Genesis that God created man in His own image and likeness (Genesis 1:26).

We also know that the Lord God created him “from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7).

Thus, the spirit and soul of man have their origin in the Spirit of God and are therefore capable of communion with Him. Remember this.

Recently, on the day of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos, you heard from us that after the entrance of the Most Holy Spirit within her, the Most Holy Virgin Mary burned with Divine fire and yet was not consumed, like the burning bush that the great Moses saw in the desert.

It was the greatest example of man receiving the Holy Spirit. And the Holy Spirit sanctified her human nature above Angels and Archangels, Seraphim and Cherubim.

No other person has ever been in such close communion with the Spirit of God as the Blessed Virgin Mary.

But not only in this exceptional form of the entering of the Divine fire is it possible for the human spirit to communicate with the Spirit of God; it, as a rule, takes place differently, in the form of a tremendous impact of the Spirit of God on the human spirit, as we see it in the lives of the saints and, above all, in the amazing life of Saint Mary of Egypt, to whose blessed memory the fifth Sunday of Great Lent is dedicated. About her life, similar to the life of an angel, you have already heard many times from us, your shepherds. I won't bore you with repetition.

In bliss and luxury, a life full of sin and depravity, this brilliant young beauty lived in Egypt, not thinking about her deep impurity. But the Omniscient God knew how bottomless was the depth of her heart and what feats of communion with the Spirit of God she was capable of.

And He, not wanting the death of a sinner, stopped Mary on her perilous path with a sudden powerful shock to her soul.

She, along with a crowd of people, wanted to enter the Jerusalem temple on the day of the Exaltation of the Cross of the Lord, but she could not step further than the porch, for some unknown force pushed her away from the door of the temple when she tried to enter. Before the spiritual eyes of Mary suddenly appeared the disgusting impurity of her life in Egypt; she trembled with her whole being and with fervent prayer turned to the Most Holy Theotokos, whose icon hung over the door of the church.

The Most Holy Theotokos honored her with the answer: “Go beyond the Jordan, and there you will find rest for your soul.”

After that, Mary freely entered the temple and with fiery love kissed the cross of her Savior - the Lord Jesus Christ.

The subsequent 47-year life of Mary in the desert beyond the Jordan was a continuous series of amazing influences of the Holy Spirit on her soul and body.

But it is impossible in one sermon to grasp the whole depth of her unceasing communion with the Spirit of God, which she had already achieved in the flesh, in this earthly life, a great closeness, if not even equality with the incorporeal powers of heaven.

I will only say that direct influences of the Holy Spirit on the human soul were experienced to a greater or lesser extent not only by great saints, but we, ordinary and even weak Christians, often experience them too. And we, like Mary of Egypt, are stopped by the Lord God on the crooked and sinful paths of our life by very different upheavals of our soul.

How often, how unexpectedly, the buildings of our life that we arbitrarily erect according to our own plans and desires collapse, if we build them guided by our passions and lusts, and not according to the commandments of our Savior Jesus Christ!

How often a serious illness sent by God makes us stop in an effort to achieve a high social position, wealth or earthly glory.

Let us remember what invaluable spiritual benefits Saint Mary of Egypt received after Christ God stopped her on her perilous path.

We will, therefore, treat everything difficult and unexpected that we have to endure with deep obedience to the will of God, and not with sinful grumbling against God who saves us. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.