October 18, 2022

Homily Five 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, 1957)

After the ascension into heaven of our Lord Jesus Christ, tasks of the greatest difficulty were presented before His holy Apostles. They had to radically change the whole worldview of the people of the ancient pagan world; to change the whole course of world history. They had to pour the new wine of Christ's teaching into the old wineskins of the minds and hearts of people who had been in darkness for an infinitely long time, whose eyes were blinded by the light of Christ.

In dilapidated skins, the strongest fermentation of new wine took place. They were torn, and no longer wine flowed out of them, but the blood of countless martyrs of Christ.

The apostles were supposed to erect the luminous Cross of Christ over the whole world, and they had to erect it, overcoming the strongest resistance of the devil, who knew that the cross would crush his head.

The omniscient God, of course, knew that even the most powerful human forces were extremely insufficient to fulfill the grandiose tasks of the Apostolic ministry, and therefore on the great day of Pentecost He performed an exceptional miracle: He sent down on His apostles His All-Holy Spirit, who rested on their heads in the form of fiery tongues. And the Holy Spirit reminded the apostles, as Christ promised them, all that they had heard from Him. From the Holy Spirit they received a miraculous gift of knowledge of the languages and dialects of all those tribes and peoples to whom they were supposed to preach the Gospel of Christ.

On the day of Pentecost, the great foremost Apostle Paul was not yet among the other apostles, but after his miraculous conversion on the road to Damascus, he had a much more difficult activity ahead of him than the other apostles. He was to write fourteen of his great letters to the Churches, which are extraordinarily deep and holy and form a very important part of the New Testament. And the great apostle needed an even greater outpouring of the grace of the Holy Spirit on him than the one that the other apostles received on the great day of Pentecost. And indeed received it in great abundance. At the beginning of the twelfth chapter of the second epistle to the Corinthians, we read his unusual words about a certain man “... who fourteen years ago (whether in the body, I don’t know, whether out of the body, I don’t know; God knows) was caught up to the third heaven.  And I knew such a man ..." (2 Cor. 12:2–4). Of course, it is only in his great modesty that he says that this extraordinary event happened to some other person, and not to himself.

The rapture into paradise, in which he heard unspeakable words incomprehensible to earthly people, was no less, and perhaps even greater, communion with the hidden Divine wisdom than that which the other apostles received on the day of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon them.

Let us also remember another great apostle, John the Theologian, who wrote the marvelous fourth Gospel, infinitely surpassing in its depth everything ever written by the wisest people. Let us recall the mysterious Revelation about the final destinies of the world, which he received from God on the island of Patmos through an Angel sent to him.

Of course, this great Revelation was an extremely important addition to the exceptional expansion and deepening of all the powers of the mind and heart, which the great John received along with the other apostles on the day of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon them. I believe that the Apostle Luke, whose holy memory we now celebrate, belongs to the ranks of the wisest and most holy people in the world and close friends of Christ. He accomplished a glorious deed by writing the third Gospel, which the holy fathers of the Church place close to the greatest Gospel of John in its depth and significance.

And we would like to believe that the great Evangelist Luke was honored from God to receive the special gifts of the Holy Spirit, like the apostles John and Paul, in some way unknown to us. And if it really was, then shouldn't we bow deeply before this great apostle and evangelist?

Great is the grace and honor I have received from God to bear his holy name and belong to the assembly of the apostolic successors, the bishops.

But great is my responsibility before God, if He sees even a little negligence in my most difficult hierarchical service.

From pure hearts, let us lift up prayerful singing to the Apostle and Evangelist Luke, imploring him to be my defender and intercessor at the Last Judgment of our Lord and God Jesus Christ. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.