October 18, 2022

Homily Three 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, 1951)

You have now heard in the Gospel reading the great words of Christ addressed to His disciples, the apostles, the saints: “He who hears you hears Me; and whoever rejects you rejects Me; but whoever rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me” (Luke 10:16).

Oh, how terrible!

If we do not listen to the holy apostles, if we do not consider them the lamps of our life, then this means that we reject both the Lord Jesus Christ and His Beginningless Father.

And if so, if the holy apostles are so holy and great, if the holy evangelists have, in addition to the greatest merits common to all the apostles, the immeasurable merit of writing the Divine Gospel, then a special honor should be given to them, to love them with all our soul, for Christ told them that they are His friends, He told them that in the afterlife they would sit on twelve thrones and judge the whole world with Him.

And the holy apostle speaks of the same thing, still spreading these words and asking us:

"Don't you know that the saints will judge the world?"

This is who the saints are, those saints whose names each of us bears.

We must listen to them, they must be for us a model and an example of all our actions, all words, all thoughts. They sparkle like stars in the ecclesiastical sky. They show us such examples that we do not see in earthly life, for we see a lot of evil, a lot of falsehood here on earth.

And from them, from the saints of God, we must learn all Christian perfection. They should be guides for us in our life. So shouldn't we love and honor them with all our hearts as heavenly intercessors? Shouldn't we beg them to help us from above, from heaven?

We Orthodox do just that, but the renegades of the Church, the sectarians, tell you that it is pointless to pray to saints: they reject the very veneration of saints, they reject all prayers for their heavenly intercession for us, they reject prayerful appeal to them.

They say that the only Advocate with God is the man Jesus Christ.

Oh, of course, this is the only true Intercessor, the Intercessor who asked God the Father for forgiveness of sins for all mankind, who showed us the way and means of salvation.

Of course, no other intercession can compare with His intercession, not even the intercession of His Most Pure Mother, which is so immensely powerful.

But does this mean that we should reject these intercessions of the saints, less powerful than the intercession of Christ Himself, as the sectarians do?

Oh no, oh no!

We will not reject it, for we have a huge amount of evidence that the saints who have departed from earthly life, being in heavenly glory, never leave their cares for the world, especially for those who were closest to them during their lifetime.

There would not be enough time to tell about all the amazing phenomena and intercessions of the great Wonderworker Nicholas of Myra. I will not talk about them, because I spoke more than once on the day of his holy memory.

I will say how the venerable fathers of Solovky Zosima and Sabbatius had constant care after their death of their monastery, the Solovetsky Monastery and all its inhabitants.

In their lives there are many unfalsified, undoubted stories about how many, many times they appeared to the monks and laity who perished in the sea and saved them.

One story is particularly striking.

Some people were sailing and got into a terrible storm; already despaired of their salvation, they were completely exhausted, scooping water from the ship, which was flooded with waves.

Exhausted, two of them dozed off and saw both the great Saints Zosima and Sabbatius standing on their ship. And Sabbatius said to Zosima: “Tell the helmsman to direct the ship with its bow against the wind.”

And the other, who fell asleep in a light sleep, also saw Zosima and Sabbatius, of whom one said to the other: “Brother, you watch the ship, but I need to go to Solovki for Liturgy.”

And Zosimas guarded the ship, and the storm subsided, and those who were perishing at sea were saved.

The Venerable Zosima many times appeared in reality during the day in the church of Solovetsky to those praying; he was in the ranks of the monks. And one day, having appeared like this, he said to Gerasim, his disciple: “Go, take communion,” and with him he went up to the Holy Cup, and stood all the time while the monks took communion, and then became invisible.

Two Solovetsky monks were sent to a distant island, on which there were food depots. They were blown away by the wind for 60 miles from the monastery, and they landed on a small island. When they sailed up to this island, they saw two pillars of fire above a small hut that stood on the island. The monks landed on the island, entered the hut and saw in it two unfortunate, barely alive people, naked and hungry.

They asked: “Who are you? Where are you from? Were you not sent by the elders, who often came to us? So today they were here, and every time they came, we stopped feeling hunger and cold, and our pains weakened. They also told us their names - Zosima and Sabbatius - they said that today there will be our deliverance."

And according to the word of the monks, those overtaken by a storm were saved and taken to the monastery.

Well, if such were the concerns of Zosima and Sabbatius about the Solovetsky Monastery, about the unfortunate people who were wrecked in the White Sea, do we really dare to deny that the saints have care for us living in the world?

Shouldn't we earnestly pray to our heavenly patrons?

Whom, whom, if not the holy and all-praised Apostle Luke, whose name I, unworthy though I am, have the great happiness to bear, whom can I revere more, to whom to turn with fervent, constant, persistent prayer, if not to him?!

Oh yes, to him!

And all of you take an example from me. Each of you has a heavenly patron or patroness whose name you bear. Have ardent love for your heavenly patrons.

Always ask them for intercession for you, sinners, exhausted in suffering, before God.

Resort, as you are always accustomed to doing this, to the intercession of the Most Pure Theotokos, but do not forget to also ask for intercession from your heavenly patrons - and you will be well.

Our heavenly patrons pray for us constantly, this was evidenced by what happened in Tambov with the local saint Pitirim, who in the world bore the name in honor of Prokopios Decapolite.

Already a bishop, Saint Pitirim, continuing to love him, continued to pray daily and fervently to his heavenly patron Saint Prokopios. And then one day Prokopios Decapolite appeared to him in reality, blessed him and said: “Pitirim, do not doubt that I always hear your prayers and always pray to God for you.”

Saint Pitirim ordered the artist to depict this appearance to him of the Venerable Prokopios Decapolite.

And in the Cathedral of Tambov, this wonderful icon is preserved, depicting the kneeling Saint Pitirim and Prokopios Decapolite blessing him.

Let us also bow our knees before our heavenly patrons, and then we will receive a blessing from them in the name of God. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.