November 27, 2022

Homily for the Epistle Reading on the Twenty-Fourth Sunday After Pentecost (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on November 23, 1952)

Today you heard in the apostolic reading part of the epistle to the Ephesians of the holy Apostle Paul. This is extremely important, you need to understand this. You didn’t quite understand the reading in Slavonic, so I’ll read it first in Russian, but don’t blame me if I read and preach while sitting, because I don’t feel very well.

Addressing the pagans who were inhabitants of Ephesus and now believe in Christ, Saint Paul says to them thus:

“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. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father” (Eph. 2:11-18).

Saint Paul tells the Ephesians that when they were still pagans, when they did not yet believe in Christ, they were godless in the world.

And now the Lord Jesus Christ has removed the barrier that stood between them, the Gentiles and the Jews and the Jewish Christians.

What barrier stood between them? Don’t you know what enemies sometimes, to our grief, people of different religions are to each other, how unlovingly, unfortunately, some of those who call themselves Christians treat ignorant pagans and even Muslims and Jews. Isn't there a barrier between them?

It was so before, it was so when the Ephesians were pagans, godless in the world.

But our Lord Jesus Christ came into the world in order to eliminate, to exterminate all enmity between people, in order to create for Himself a new man in truth from divided people - pagans and Jews and Christians; to unite everyone, to reconcile everyone.

How and by what means did he achieve this great goal? By His Cross, by His Blood, by His Flesh, nailed to the cross.

With this, this terrible sacrifice, He destroyed the barrier that stood between people, and killed the enmity between them on the cross.

Well, does all this only apply to the ancient Ephesians, first pagans, and then who believed in Christ - only to them?

Oh no! Oh no! This also applies to the people of the present century, perhaps to an even more severe, terrible measure.

For the enemies of the world, the enemies of love, are immeasurably more present at the present time than there were in the days of the apostles.

You know that the world is now divided into two hostile sides, and one of them is ready for the sake of hostility, for the sake of hatred for everything - even ready to destroy the entire culture of Europe, sweep away millions, many, many millions of people with cursed atomic bombs, plague, diphtheria, anthrax bacteria?

All of you who read newspapers know this. Who needs it, who starts it? This is what the new pagans need, this is what the new atheists need, this is what those damned ones need, who are raking in the gold drenched in the blood of the unfortunate Korean people, who are preparing to rake in even more gold drenched in the blood of people inhabiting Europe, mainly our Soviet Union.

They are the accursed ones, they are the new pagans, for is it possible to believe in God, is it possible to be a Christian and start an atomic, bacteriological, chemical war?

We must first stop being Christians; and therefore those who plot this horror all ceased to be Christians long ago and became servants of the devil. They have their own god, their own idol – gold, gold, gold... And they are ready to sacrifice the entire European culture, millions of human lives in Europe and Asia to this accursed idol.

The Lord ascended the terrible cross in order to remove the barrier that stood between people, to kill the enmity of people against people.

And these accursed ones do not want to stop the enmity, they do not want to eliminate the barrier that stands between them and the rest of humanity.

Does the Lord Jesus really need to incarnate again and endure death on the cross in order to abolish this diabolical enmity and destroy the barrier that stands between the Americans, who yearn for power over the whole world, and all peaceful people?!

No no! He will no longer ascend the cross, but will come for the Last Judgment over all people, and above all over the cruel perpetrators of monstrous crimes in unfortunate Korea.

You see, therefore, the apostolic reading of this day directly applies to our time.

About those Ephesians who became Christians, Saint Paul wrote: “Therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone" (Eph. 2:19-20) .

Our Church stands entirely on the cornerstone - the Lord Jesus Christ, the whole Christian world rests on this holy pure Stone, "in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit" (Eph. 2:22).

A temple is being built, God's temple, and in this temple you are all small bricks, small stones. And each of you, participating in the construction of the temple of God, the temple of Christ's love, will become the temple of God himself, for the Holy Spirit Himself will live in you. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.