September 11, 2022

Homily for the Sunday Before the Elevation of the Honorable Cross (St. Luke of Simferopol)

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered in 1949)

There are many, many texts in Holy Scripture that amaze the mind and heart of every pious and reverent person. But today, on the Sunday preceding the Exaltation of the Cross of Christ, I will stop your thoughts on the most amazing words - the words of the Apostle Paul and the words of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

I want these words to amaze you and shock you, so that you imprint them forever in your hearts:

“For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Col. 1:19-20).

This is what Saint Paul says in his letter to the Colossians, and he says the same thing in the second letter to the Corinthians: “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:19-20).

And I am also a messenger of God, and I ask you, my flock: be reconciled with God!

How amazing, how marvelous, that God Himself is asking us to be reconciled to Him.

What is this? How can this be? Should we not ask God to forgive us, the accursed, us sinners, should we not ask Him to be reconciled with us?

And He Himself asks, humbly asks, that we be reconciled with Him, we, the accursed ones, we, who always offend His holiness, that we be reconciled with Him.

Can there be greater humility than the humility of God the Father manifested in these words!

He Himself, as it were, asks forgiveness from us, He Himself asks that we be reconciled with Him.

“Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh — who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands — that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity” (Eph. 2:11–16).

Again the words that the death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross was needed in order to reconcile us with God, to abolish enmity, diabolical enmity, of which there is so much in the human race.

He did this to reconcile us to God.

Shall we not be reconciled now, if God Himself asks for reconciliation? Are we going to keep fighting? How much of this enmity, how terrible it is!

The Cross of Christ destroyed this enmity between Christians, Christ erased the head of the devil with His cross.

You heard in the current Gospel reading also amazing words: “For God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

The Lord cares about all of us so that no one perishes, perishes in ignorance of Christ, in unbelief in Him, He wants each of us to have eternal life.

"For God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through him."

A time will come, a terrible, amazing time, when Christ will come a second time: he will come to judge the world, to judge all of us, the damned.

But the first time He came not to judge the world, but to save the human race with His Blood, to save those who believe in Him with all their hearts, and not only those who believe, but those who fulfill His commandments.

“He who believes in Him is not judged, but the unbeliever is already condemned, because he did not believe in the Name of the Only Begotten Son of God.”

The believer is not judged, the Last Judgment is not terrible for him, but the unbeliever is already condemned for not believing in the Son of God.

“And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (John 3:15-20).

Will any of you turn out to love darkness? Will the deeds of any of you be so obscure, so God-hating, that it will be necessary to hide them under cover of darkness!

Do not all of you love with all your heart, with all your thoughts, with all the breath of your soul the Lord Jesus, who shed His Blood for us, the Blood with which the Lord reconciled the world to Himself, did not reconcile Himself, but reconciled us to Himself so that we would not perish.

The humility of Christ is truly immeasurable, for we read in the Apocalypse of John the Theologian such amazing words of Christ: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me” (Rev. 3:20), as a beggar asks Him...

Is there anyone among you who will not open?

Christ stands at the door of the heart of each of you and slowly, slowly knocks, and waits - whether the door will open, whether you will let Him in. And one has only to open the door for Him to come in and serve the supper with you.

May it be with each of you!

May the Lord celebrate His supper with us, the accursed, whom God had need to reconcile with Himself!

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.