Sunday, May 8, 2022

Homily on the Sunday of the Myrrhbearing Women (St. Luke of Simferopol)


St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on May 13, 1951)

The Myrrhbearing women have now been honored with great honor, for the Holy Church honors their memory on the third Sunday of Pascha.

How did they deserve such an honor, why does the Holy Church glorify them? Because they shine for all of you, women, as a holy and unattainable example of what all women should be.

The Holy Church honors the holy Myrrhbearing women with great honor for their unspeakable love for Christ, for they completely gave their hearts to the Lord Jesus.

She honors them for the fact that they served Him with everything they could: they served with their property, served with their female care, they satisfied all His domestic needs. They set an example for all of you women of how you should love the Lord Jesus with all your heart and serve Him.

Who will you serve? You will not serve Him personally, as the holy Myrrhbearing women served, for He is no longer with us, but you will serve Him in the person of His lesser brethren, all the unfortunate, the poor, the destitute, the oppressed, all who need your mercy.

So, Christ raised the holy Myrrhbearing women before you, Christians, as a great example to follow.

All of us Christians have been commanded by Christ to be perfect, just as our Heavenly Father is perfect. Oh, how immensely difficult it is to be perfect like the Heavenly Father!

But it is not so difficult, but much more accessible to you, women, to be perfect, as the holy Myrrhbearers were perfect. Imitate them, strive to achieve that purity of heart, that selfless love for Christ, with which their hearts burned. Imitate them, and above all Mary Magdalene, who deserved the title of Equal to the Apostles with her zealous preaching; and to all the Myrrhbearers, no less than the apostles themselves, who did the work of the apostles.

Saint Mary Magdalene was the most zealous preacher of the gospel of Christ. Her heart burned with such immense courage in this great deed that she was not afraid to appear before the face of the Roman emperor Tiberius himself on Easter day; she offered him a red egg and greeted him: “Christ is risen!”

She preached to the emperor about Christ, and her preaching was so powerful that he believed in Christ. You cannot all shine with sermons, but you can all preach about Christ with your life and at least with your weak words. Imitate all the holy Myrrhbearing women.

In previous years, on this day, I exalted the heart of a woman and pointed out its great virtues in comparison with the heart of a man. Of course, I do not deny this even now: and now I will say that you are all blessed, because you are women. Be proud of the title of a woman, be proud that you were born not as men, but as women, for the Lord has given you a heart much better than a man's heart, a heart receptive to all that is holy, a heart as soft as wax, feeling the truth of Christ.

You do not live with a cold mind, like men, you live with the feeling of the heart, for the human heart, along with the mind, is an organ of knowledge. And the knowledge of the heart is higher than the knowledge of the mind.

Therefore, blessed be God, who has given you kind and gentle hearts sensitive to goodness.

But are all women like this? Oh no, oh no! Not all, because women's hearts are as opposite as the north and south poles: along with good women who have soft hearts, there are many evil women. And you need to know that an evil woman is incomparably worse than an evil man. Believe that this is so, for if a woman follows the path of evil, then she goes much further than a man who follows this path.

There was a great sage in ancient times - Jesus the son of Sirach, and so he said about evil women: “You can endure ... any anger, but not the anger of a woman.” And again: “The yoke of an ox moving hither and thither is an evil woman; the one who takes it is the same as the one who grabs a scorpion” (Sir. 25:15; 26:9).

True, profoundly true is this attestation. Exactly, exactly like this: the anger of a woman is unbearable, and the anger of a woman is immeasurably worse than the anger of a man.

Another great sage of antiquity, King Solomon the Wise, in his parables said: “Keep your heart above all things, because from it are the sources of life”: either fertile, or fragrant, or fetid, or disgusting.

All sources of life come from the heart, and therefore it is necessary to keep your heart more than anything else, so that it is pure, so that fragrant springs, blessed springs flow from it.

“Reject from yourself the deceitfulness of the mouth, and remove the deceitfulness of the tongue from yourself” (Prov. 4:23-24).

You see, I have already ceased to praise and exalt the hearts of women, I began to rebuke them. Why is this? Not out of audacity, of course, but out of love for you, out of a desire to help you correct your hearts.

For before you become worthy imitators of the holy Myrrhbearing women, you must repent, you must purify your hearts, you must pluck from them everything that was not even a trace in the hearts of the holy Myrrhbearing women - all evil.

In the life of Saint Elizabeth, the former abbess of a convent, we read that she always deeply studied her own heart, observed and studied the hearts of her sisters.

And what did she come to, what do we hear from her? We hear that women are most characterized by the sins of deceit, craftiness, pretense and evil speaking. And this is true, this is profoundly true.

Deceit is the most common vice among women. There are unfortunate women, especially among the young, who from early childhood are accustomed to always lie. But careless parents did not punish, did not correct them, and deceit became an incorrigible habit of such unfortunate women.

They lie incessantly, lie without any need, writing unprecedented stories from their lives, lying as if it all happened, as if they experienced it all. They are false to such an extent that they themselves begin to believe in the lies that their tongue exudes.

How are they so miserable? How can they fix themselves? First of all, they need to understand how terrible deceit is, what a grave vice it is, and remember the terrible words of the Prophet Malachi: “Cursed be the deceitful!”

We must also remember the words of the psalmist David: “Blessed is the man ... in whose spirit there is no deceit” (Ps. 31:2). And deceit is a form of lying. It is necessary to strive for this.

And in another Psalm we read: “Lord! Deliver my soul from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue” (Ps. 119:2).

It was so hard for the psalmist David to endure deceit that he prayed that the Lord would deliver him from the lying lips that tormented and pained his holy heart.

Let every lying woman be afraid of those words that the holy Apostle John the Theologian heard from God Himself in the great Revelation on the island of Patmos. Here is what he heard from God: "... whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars shall have their fate in the lake burning with fire and brimstone" (Rev. 21:8).

Now, if such an unfortunate, completely lying woman, who always exudes lies from her mouth, is horrified by these words of the curse of the Prophet Malachi, if she is horrified by the fate in the lake burning with fire and brimstone, then what should she do, how to correct herself?

I'll give her advice. If careless relatives did not punish you, then come to your senses now, take care of the correction yourself, ask them to flog you to the point of bleeding, and if it doesn’t help, to be repeated again. And when they flog you, then you will come to your senses, then you will bite your lying tongue. Then saving shame will be added to fear.

What can I say to those women who do not always lie, like these unfortunate ones, who, like all of us, like all men, sometimes lie?

I will tell them: lying is a grave sin. If you catch yourself in a lie, be ashamed and repent of the lie you made. Repent for as long as your own heart tells you, repent with the Jesus Prayer on your lips and prostrations.

Make a prostration and say: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the liar."

And the Lord will forgive, and you will turn away from lies. Lies come in many different forms. Pretense, which is so characteristic of many women, is a form of lying.

I saw women who pretended so skillfully that, being in fact vile and fetid, they knew how to put on the guise of holiness, knew how to pretend to be pious. The Lord will punish them severely.

It will be enough to talk about lies and their varieties.

However, not quite enough: there is another form of lies - falsehood. Many women love falseness, they like to adorn themselves with expensive outfits, various decorations. The Apostle Peter says this about them: “... wives, obey your husbands, so that those of them who do not obey the word may be gained by the life of their wives without a word when they see your pure, God-fearing life. Let not outward braiding of hair be your adornment, not golden headdresses or finery in clothes, but the hidden person in the heart, in the incorruptible beauty of a meek and silent spirit, which is precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:1-4).

Oh, what holy words!

Oh, how you need to remember that by a pure, God-fearing life, meekness of spirit, without any adornments, without painting your face, you can change the hearts of your husbands, move them on the path of Christian life.

Oh, how true! Oh, how true!

And therefore, how unimportant is the tinting of the lips, the drawing of the eyebrows - this is false, false, false!

A lie is a lie, and a lie is disgusting.

Let none of you be false. May you all be clean.

May the innermost heart be an adornment of all of you.

Well, I upset you, with my denouncing ... Forgive me, forgive me!

I myself am a sinner, yet I rebuke you ...

But what to do! The Lord placed me in such a post that I should guide you along the path of salvation, I should also grieve you, and not just praise you.

In the meantime, I will tell you: may all of you, my beloved, sincerely beloved, pious ones, be as pure as the holy Myrrhbearing women were pure.

May the Myrrhbearing wife be the ideal of feminine perfection for you.

May deep, deep love for the Lord Jesus dwell in your hearts!

Yes, strive with everything you can to serve Him, as the Myrrhbearing women served - and you will serve with love for people, with your mercy towards them.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.
 
 
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