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May 18, 2022

Homily on the Wednesday of Mid-Pentecost (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on May 3, 1950)

"Whoever is thirsty among you, let them come to Me and drink" (John 7:37). These wondrous words were spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ on the day of Mid-Pentecost in the Temple of Jerusalem. Roughly the same words were given in the Holy Spirit by the Prophet Isaiah, who lived seven centuries before the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was as if the Prophet heard what 700 years later would be spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ. He said the following: "Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price" (Is. 55:1). "Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation" (Is. 12:3).

You see how great are the words of Christ, even though it had been foretold in the Holy Spirit 700 years earlier. These words must be engraved in our hearts and to glorify our Christ and God, the source of our lives! Of what water did our Lord Jesus Christ speak when He said, "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38). In other words, those who believe in Him, rivers of living water will flow through them. And the living water that will flow through them, who with all their hearts loved the Lord Jesus Christ, is the grace of the Holy Spirit.

This grace is given to us by the Lord if we ask for it, if we accept it with awe and respect. If with all our hearts we believe in the power that grace has, when this grace floods us, then it is poured out and rivers of living water flow from within us. This is what the words of Christ mean. When the grace of the Holy Spirit fills man, He does not remain in him unnoticed. It is uttered with the words of love full of meekness, humility and truth.

Divine grace illuminates all his being, changes even his external appearance, and we see it in all the work he does, even in his movements, because this man truly becomes the bearer of the grace of God.

We need very much the grace of God, the living water that the Lord Jesus Christ gives freely to those who are thirsty. We have many different needs in our lives. Our hearts are tormented by many sorrows. Some are thirsty for knowledge and wisdom. And where should they look for genuine and true wisdom? In the books that record human wisdom? Surely not! There is almost no true wisdom found there, nor the wisdom of the Holy Spirit. These books contain our own human wisdom. Genuine wisdom and knowledge is received by those who drink insatiably the living water that the Lord Jesus Christ gives us.

I have spoken to you about what the first Christians thought about the value of knowledge and true wisdom. They said the following: if one knows all the sciences and possesses all human wisdom and does not know God, he is the most miserable among men. But if someone does not know at all human wisdom and is illiterate, but with his heart he knows God, then this man is truly blessed, for this is the true and the most valuable knowledge. Therefore those who seek true knowledge and eternal wisdom ask for them from our Lord Jesus Christ and He lets them drink the living water that He gives.

Our hearts have no peace. They are tormented by many and various sorrows, many times intolerable. Where can we find calm and peace for our souls? It is only in Him who Himself is peace, the only one and true peace. It is He of whom the Apostle Paul says, "For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation" (Eph. 2:14). Who are these two parts that Christ united. They are the ones who were separated, because they came from different countries, they spoke different languages, they had different traditions and beliefs, and they each believed differently. All of them, who were separated and did not feel that they were united with their neighbors, were united by the Lord Jesus Christ, making them one out of many.

What middle wall is the apostle talking about? It is the middle wall of mutual prejudices, of nationalism, of the burden between the different social classes. This is the middle wall that the Lord has shattered, abolishing enemies and making them one out of many. The Lord gives us peace, the peace of which he spoke to his disciples, saying, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (Jn. 14:27). This peace cannot be given by the world. This peace can only be found in those who drink the living water from the source of immortality, who ask for peace only from Him who has it, from the source of peace our Lord Jesus Christ.

Aren't there many, even among us, those who bear the burden of their sins? Doesn't our conscience torment us when we think about the evils we have done in our lives? If we have no peace and quiet, our conscience does not let us rest. Where are we going to find the silence? We find it as soon as we think of Him who was lifted up not only for our own sins, but the sins of the whole world, and nailed them to the cross. We find it only in Him who suffered for our sins and gives us to drink the living water insatiably.

When we feel weak and humbled and we need strength, we think about what is this strength that we need and must seek. Physical strength? Can we say that physical strength has the utmost value? Does the power of authority have this value? If we think about it well, we will understand that either one or the other have no worth and are worthy of contempt. Let's think about it, let us think about it well and lead our steps to Christ, who gives us this living water, to drink insatiably, and then we will receive the strength that the world does not know. It is the power of the spirit freed from the bondage of the flesh, from the bondage of sufferings, which pulls us down to the earth while we are looking for the heavenly good things.

It is the power that raises us high. It is the power that the saints had, the power of righteousness, of love, of the truth of Christ, of the truth with which Christ defeated the world. We will also become partakers of this power of Christ if we seek it. If we seek this power and only this and we beg Christ to give it to us. If we come to Him who is the source of the living water and drink insatiably this water.

Many are those who envy the glory of others and who themselves seek glory. What glory? It was this glory, which was condemned by Christ, when He said: "How can you believe, who receive glory from one another, and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?" (Jn. 5:44). All of them seek human glory and want the praise of others and not the glory of God. The glory which they receive when with all their hearts they love God. The glory that Christ gives freely to those who have understood that the unique, the true, the most precious and the unfathomable glory is the glory of God. This glory is received by those who drink insatiably from the source of the living water and from Him they are waiting for the highest glory.

You don't have freedom and the situation you are in looks too much like slavery? Seek genuine freedom, not the one that the world appreciates. Seek the unique, genuine and true freedom – freedom from sin and from passions. Remember what the Lord Jesus Christ said to the Jews who believed in Him: "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (Jn. 8:31-32). Only the truth of Christ can make us truly free. Only this truth has value and no other. It is the truth that the world despises, and those who possess it they call slaves. Let them call us slaves, let us be seen as slaves in the eyes of the world but be free in the eyes of God.

Finally, I would like to remind you of the words of the Prophet Jeremiah, with whose mouth the same God said: "For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns — broken cisterns that can hold no water" (Jer. 2:13). Perhaps some of us are concerned about these terrible words of the prophet. I don't want to believe it, my God! It is possible to let go of the Lord Jesus Christ, to deny the grace of the Holy Spirit! Many such pits were dug by people and filled with the water of their own wisdom, their own knowledge and beliefs, and their own understanding of life. These cisterns, however, could not hold the water, for in it there was no truth.

Let none of us look like such a cracked cistern. But let us drink the genuine and only true water of life, which is offered to us by our Lord Jesus Christ, whose glory and dominion is the glory and dominion of the ages. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.