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Monday, June 13, 2022

Homily on the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles (St. Luke of Simferopol)


By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on the Monday of the Holy Spirit in 1957)

We recognize the powers of material nature by their manifestations with greater or lesser power.

A light breeze caressing our cheeks, and a terrible hurricane destroying entire cities - this is only the movement of air with the weakest and strongest power. The barely noticeable twinkling of the smallest star and the dazzling light of the midday sun are only manifestations of the same light energy in the weakest and strongest degree.

On this great feast of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, we see that the spiritual energy, which reveals to us the power of God, can manifest itself not only quietly and hardly noticeably, but also with tremendous power and glory.

At the Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Jordan, the Holy Spirit first revealed Himself to the world in the humble form of a dove that descended from heaven on the head of the Baptized Jesus.

And on this great feast, He revealed Himself to the world with great power.

The apostles of Christ and people close to the Lord Jesus, who had gathered in the great chamber of Jerusalem in anticipation of the coming of the Holy Spirit, promised by their Teacher when He ascended into heaven, suddenly heard a loud noise, as if from a rushing stormy wind, and the Holy Spirit rested on the heads in the form of fiery tongues.

The Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, has never shown Himself to the world so clearly, with such amazing power.

Likewise, the Persons of the One God in Trinity have never been revealed to the world, and therefore we also call the feast of the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles the great feast of the Holy Trinity.

The Holy Spirit, of course, dwelt in the hearts of the holy Apostles throughout their constant communion with the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Lord Jesus Christ, before His Ascension to heaven.

But now, when they were faced with the greatest task of preaching the gospel of Christ to all heathen nations; when they had to drive away the darkness of paganism and enlighten the whole world with the one true light of Christ; when they had to wage the most difficult struggle with the devil himself, the father and the source of spiritual darkness, they, of course, needed superhuman powers of mind and heart. Therefore, the Holy Spirit descended on them with such tremendous power, with which neither before nor later did it descend on any other people.

The apostles received Divine light that illumined their minds in the form of fiery tongues. They received an amazing gift of knowledge of the languages and dialects of all peoples, who will have to be given a new heart and a new mind.

So, with a power like a hurricane, the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles of Christ, for before them lay a grandiose task to radically change the worldview of all mankind and the entire course of world history.

But the time will come when, with incomparably greater power than even on the day of Pentecost, the immeasurable power of God and the power of the Holy Spirit will be revealed; when, at the terrible sound of the Archangel's trumpet, the dead will rise; when the earth and all the works on it will burn; when, according to the word of God, “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev. 21:5), a new earth and a new universe will arise. We must prepare for this terrible day all the days of our lives, in order to meet it not in fear and trembling, but with great joy and with our heads held high.

What is needed for this? We must remember the amazing words of the Apostle Paul in the first epistle to the Corinthians: “Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16).

We must live in such a way that the Holy Spirit descends into our hearts.

If we fulfill the commandments of Christ with all diligence, the Holy Spirit will indwell us, indwell, of course, not with such glory and power as it descended upon the Apostles of Christ, but very gradually and imperceptibly.

The grace of the Holy Spirit will slowly and imperceptibly, day by day, change our spirit and soul, and even our body. It will make us silent and quiet, meek, longsuffering from the unrighteousness and filth of the world.

Less and less we will think about ourselves, the blessings of life will lose all attractiveness for us. We will think with heartache about those who suffer, who do not have their daily bread and look at us with prayer. Even our posture and gait will change: the head, which was previously held high, will drop, our gait will become quiet; our tongue and mouth will utter only what is good, what is undefiled, and what is pure.

Thus, those precious fruits of the Spirit will ripen in us, about which we read in the epistle of the great Paul to the Galatians: “The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Gal. 5:22-23).

May the gospel of Christ help you to acquire these precious fruits, and may the grace of the Holy Spirit make you all temples of the Spirit of God. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.