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October 18, 2022

Homily Six on the Feast of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke (St. Luke of Simferopol)

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on October 18/31, 1958)

In the epistle to the Romans, the holy Apostle Paul writes great words that should be the basis of the life of every Christian: “... love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:10).

In the same great apostle, in the first epistle to the Corinthians, we read the great commandment given to us: "Pursue love ..." (1 Corinthians 14:1).

How should we understand these words of the great teacher of the nations? They require a twofold understanding: by fulfilling the commandments of Christ, we must achieve such a purity of heart that it would be a container of love for all people. On the other hand, we must become worthy of our neighbors' love for us.

In the first universal epistle of the Apostle John the Theologian, we also find the rationale for the commandment on the pursuit of love: “... he who does not love his brother, whom he sees, how can he love God, whom he does not see?” (1 John 4:20).

All the holy apostles of Christ deserve our deepest love, preaching to the world about the commandments, parables, miracles of our Lord Jesus Christ, His death on the Cross, Resurrection and Ascension to heaven. But their oral preaching was sufficient only for the first time after the end of our Savior's earthly life, for oral tradition can be forgotten, changed, and even distorted. Therefore, those disciples of Christ deserve special and deepest love, whom we call not only apostles, but also evangelists, that is, the writers of the four Gospels of Christ, whom Christians of all nations still voraciously read.

One of the great four evangelists was the holy Apostle Luke, whose blessed memory we now celebrate. He wrote not only the highly valued third Gospel, which in many respects supplements the other three Gospels, but also the book of the Acts of the Holy Apostles, which is precious to us.

All the holy apostles, except only John the Theologian, sealed their great preaching of the law of Christ with a terrible martyr's death. But their preaching could not be silenced, and their successors, the bishops, were called by God to continue their preaching, whose sermons the Chief Shepherd Jesus Christ Himself attaches great importance to, for thus He said about them: “He who hears you hears Me, and he who rejects you rejects Me; but whoever rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me” (Luke 10:16).

If the task of bishops is so enormous and responsible, if they should be the successors of the apostolic preaching, then all of them should be imbued with the words of the Apostle Paul: "For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16).

We must not only continue, but also explain the preaching of the apostles and all the Holy Scriptures. This will earn the successors of the apostles the deep love of their flock, this will also earn a great reward from God in eternal life. These are not my words, these are the words of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself: “... whoever breaks one of these least commandments and teaches people so, he will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven; but whoever does and teaches, he will be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:19).

And in earthly life he will earn the deep love of his flock, also according to the word of Christ: “... everyone who leaves home, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for the sake of My name, will receive a hundredfold and inherit eternal life” (Matt. 19:29).

For thirty years my first Tashkent flock has kept its love for me; pours out streams of love and my former Tambov flock; and with the great warmth of pure love you warm my old age, my dear ones, my last flock.

I cannot remain silent about another love with which the Lord God has blessed me.

It joyfully touched my heart the word of the Apostle Paul, who called the Apostle and Evangelist Luke "beloved physician" (Col. 4:14) in the epistle to the Colossians you have now heard.

And the Lord God vouchsafed me to be a beloved doctor for many of those who were saved by me from death and delivered from suffering, and especially for the wounded during the Second World War, when I, a bishop, headed all the surgical work of the Krasnoyarsk evacuation hospital 15–15.

The wards of this hospital were illuminated with the light of love and joy when I entered them; with legs raised high and hands healed by me, the sufferers for the motherland saluted me. It is unforgettable, for it is a pure outpouring of love.

May the Lord God vouchsafe the love of all your neighbors to all of you, my dear ones, for your good deeds, for your love for them. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.