April 20, 2022

Third Homily for Holy and Great Wednesday (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on April 21, 1954)

On Great Wednesday, the Holy Church remembers the deeds of two people: the harlot, who washed the feet of the Lord Jesus Christ with precious ointment and wiped them with her hair, and the Apostle of Christ, Judas, who betrayed his Teacher. The great love of the sinner is opposed to the vile behavior of the apostle, as light is to darkness.

About the betrayal of Judas, I recently spoke to you in detail, and now I want you to remember forever the unfortunate harlot, despised by everyone.

Don't we all abhor harlots? Don't we all condemn them?

And our Lord Jesus Christ not only forgave the unclean woman her sins, but also glorified her in all nations and at all times, for thus He said: “Truly I say to you: wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what she did will be said in her memory.

Do these words of the Lord Jesus strike you? After all, we know that the glory given to great people for their deeds of exceptional importance and value often fades and is forgotten after a century, many decades, and is not known in all nations.

Do the uncultured peoples of Africa, Asia and Australia know anything about great philosophers, brilliant artists and poets, about great conquerors?

And about the poor sinner, who washed His feet with tears and wiped them with her hair, poured precious ointment on Him, our Lord Jesus Christ said that at all times and in all nations what she had done would be preached.

As long as the Church of Christ stands and His gospel is preached, they will read and hear about what she has done. And the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church of Christ until the end of the world.

Why such an unheard-of honor and glory? Why is the unfortunate harlot so exalted, who has not done a single one of the works that are glorified by the people of this world? For what? Only for her fiery love for the Son of God and for the streams of repentant tears.

So above all else is love, pure love for all that is holy. Is there much love in our hearts? I will ask you, honorable and blameless wives of their husbands, I will even ask you, virgins; I ask myself, do we have a moral right to despise unfortunate harlots and brand them with shame?

Let us recall from the life of Saint Nicholas, the Wonderworker of Myra, about an unfortunate man whose hunger brought him to the point where he decided on a shameful trade in selling the bodies of his three daughters. Oh, what bitter tears this terrible decision cost the unfortunate father and his daughters!

Let us think about the fact that even today poverty and the hopelessness of the situation often push unfortunate girls onto the path of debauchery. Let us also think of those no less unfortunate who, from their birth, have inherited from their fathers and grandfathers irresistible lust and voluptuousness, and are unable to fight it.

And we, boasting of our purity, often dubious, how dare we throw stones of condemnation at these unfortunate ones?

Only God who knows the heart knows that some of them have a lot of love in their hearts, despite all their impurity.

And if we, immaculate in body, condemn, sting our neighbors with evil words, then do we pour out love from our hearts? If we slander and swear, and we wound our loved ones with our sharp and evil tongue, then will we receive the reward of love from God?

If the mother-in-law constantly poisons her daughter-in-law's life, or she torments her mother-in-law, then are they not disgusting in the eyes of God? If you quarrel and swear, even fight with your neighbors, then isn’t this a joy for demons?

Let us understand, let us understand the words of Christ: “I want mercy, not sacrifice.” Let us remember forever that love is the fulfillment of the whole law. Let us often read the great hymn of love in the 13th chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians of the Apostle Paul.

Let us never forget the harlot whose heart burned with ardent love for the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us also love Him, our Savior, with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind, and our neighbors as ourselves! Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.