Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Homily Two 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, 1952)

The Holy Apostle Paul bequeathed to all of us: "Imitate me, as I imitate Christ." And if one must imitate him, then, of course, one must imitate all the apostles, for they all followed the same path of Christ.

And I have the good fortune to bear the name of the great apostle and evangelist Luke. Should I not, therefore, first of all imitate him in his great deeds? In what, in what can I imitate him? What am I really imitating? What do I not imitate, what am I guilty of before him?

The Apostle Luke was a long-term companion of the Apostle Paul; together with him he walked all over Asia Minor, walked many hundreds of kilometers on foot. What for? Then, in order to preach about Christ anywhere and everywhere, to convert pagans and unbelieving Jews to Christ, to establish the Church of Christ anywhere and everywhere, to appoint bishops, to organize dioceses.

This was the main work of holy apostle after his greatest deed - the writing of the Holy Gospel. Of course, in the writing of the Gospel I cannot imitate him. Can I imitate in preaching? Yes Yes! I can and must, and I consider it my main hierarchal duty to preach about Christ anywhere and everywhere.

The Lord God said to the prophet Ezekiel: “Son of man! I have made you the watchman of the house of Israel, and you will hear the word from my mouth: and you will instruct them from me” (Ezek. 3:17).

He appointed a prophet to watch over the whole house of Israel. And I, too, was placed as a guard - a guard of the Crimean Church, for I have apostolic duties in relation to all the inhabitants of Crimea - I must preach the gospel anywhere and everywhere.

In Simferopol, I do it to the best of my ability, and even sparing no effort. I have preached much to you. But how did they listen to my sermons, shouldn’t I also take to myself other terrible words of God addressed to the prophet Ezekiel: “If I say to the wicked man, ‘You will surely die,’ but you do not warn him or speak out to warn him from his wicked way to save his soul, that wicked man will die in his iniquity, and I will hold you responsible for his blood.”

Won't the Lord say so to me, won't He blame me for those to whom I have not preached, who have not listened and are not listening to my sermon? See how awesome it is, what a heavy responsibility lies on me.

“But you do not warn him or speak out to warn him from his wicked way to save his soul, that wicked man will die in his iniquity.”

This is where my consolation is, this is where the limit to my tears is: the Lord will not exact from me because they listened and did not want to fulfill - and continued their iniquities.

I have no fault for that, for I warned the wicked, and if they did not listen to me, then they themselves will answer for themselves. And I saved my soul.

But what, is my consolation great? Can I be dead trying to imitate the great evangelist Luke? No, there is little peace in my soul, for I see and know that of all the inhabitants of Simferopol, where I preach the most, only a very few listen to me, and the rest do not care about me, do not want to listen to me.

And I shed many bitter tears for the perishing, but I can do nothing. All of you, near and far, need to remember the words of Christ that you heard in today's Gospel reading: “He who listens to you listens to Me, and he who rejects you rejects Me; but whoever rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me” (Luke 10:16).

Aren't these terrible words? Do they not oblige you all to listen to me, and not only me, but also all whom God has appointed as shepherds for you, to listen and do what they tell you.

Why is it necessary to listen to us? Because we do not preach our own thing, but we preach the Law of Christ. And if you reject us, you reject Christ Himself, and if you reject Him, you reject the Father who sent Him.

Remember these terrible words: those who reject us will be rejected by God.

Among other things, as I told you, the great deed of the holy apostle was dispensation and frequent visits to the churches. I should have imitated him in this.

He, the blessed one, walked on foot, even walked thousands of kilometers with bare feet.

And I, the accursed one, drive a car and am lazy to drive, and I rarely visit the cities and villages of my diocese, because I do not find the time and strength, and external circumstances are not favorable. But the Lord will charge me for this. But the conditions of my activity are not the same as they were in apostolic times, and only to a small extent can I preach outside of Simferopol.

There is, however, consolation in the fact that I see and know that our churches are being filled, that the small flock of Christ is growing.

I know that by my preaching I have converted many weak believers to the path of Christ. For this, at least Christ will reward me a little.

How I would like our churches to be filled more and more, how I would like to hear that more and more are turning to Christ from my preaching!

On the day of my patron saint they wish me health, longevity, but this is not what should be desired; what longevity, if this is the 76th year I live in the world!

We only wish that the Lord would give me to see the fruits of my preaching, to see the conversion of people to Christ, to see that it was not in vain that I left everything in order to lead you to Christ.

I wish that the Lord would keep my vision from fading. Pray about this, for the prayer of the Church is mighty before God.

Great and mighty before Him is the prayer of the great saint of God, the apostle and evangelist Luke, whom we will call upon to help and intercede in prayerful singing to him. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.
 
 
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