February 26, 2023

Homily for Cheesefare Sunday - "The Night Has Passed and the Day is Near" (St. Luke of Simferopol)

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on March 7, 1954 - Cheesefare Sunday)

Do not remain indebted to anyone for anything except mutual love. He who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments: "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not bear false witness," "Do not covet," and all the others are contained in this word: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to the neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:8-10).

Do you not recognize, my beloved, in these words of the holy apostle the same thing that I told you last Sunday about the Last Judgment of Christ? I told you that the Lord Jesus Christ will only ask people about one thing at His Judgment, only about whether they did works of mercy or did not do them, and those who did works of mercy He will glorify forever in His Kingdom, and those who are cruel, deprived of mercy, who never helped his neighbor, He will condemn him to eternal torment.

“And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11)

So act, act according to the dictates of love, show love to people, because the time has come to wake up from sleep, from a sinful sleep, from being in darkness and the darkness surrounding those who live without God according to the dictates of their flesh, their passions. “The night has passed, and the day has drawn near, so let us cast aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. As during the day, let us behave decently, not indulging in feasting and drunkenness, nor voluptuousness and debauchery, nor quarrels and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not turn the cares of the flesh into lusts.”

Why is it the holy apostle says that salvation is closer to us now, when we have already become more or less complete Christians, than when we just believed? He says this because the knowledge of the path of Christ, the knowledge and perception of the heart of all the commandments of Christ is not given immediately, but is given gradually, as a person in his life more and more follows the commandments of Christ, as he follows Christ.

This is similar to what happens in nature. You know that long before the sun rises dawn begins, the light flares up more and more, it becomes brighter and brighter until the sun rises and illuminates everything and everyone with the light of day.

Similarly, in human hearts, the full light of Christ does not come immediately, not right away, but only gradually, only as we take the Kingdom of God by force, make great efforts to become worthy of the Lord Jesus Christ, only then for them “the night has passed, and the day has drawn near."

You know the physical darkness, you know that when the sun sets and the moon does not shine, deep darkness sets in. This darkness is illuminated only by the faint twinkling of the heavenly stars, only a little is illuminated. So it is in the human soul.

Light must shine in the human soul, night must pass in it, a night of ignorance of God, a night of voluptuousness, overeating, satisfaction of one’s lusts and passions, and light must shine.

There are many unfortunate people in whose souls darkness always reigns, like the darkness of night, but they also have a faint light in their souls, like the light of twinkling stars. This is the light of their conscience, for conscience awakens us from darkness, conscience shows us light, conscience indicates that we are walking in darkness, in pitch darkness, conscience points the way to light.

And only when a person listens with deep attention to the voice of his conscience, only then will the darkness begin to dissipate for him, and the light of the sun will shine.

And for those who trample on the Blood of Christ, they do not believe in anything holy, who live according to the will of their flesh, obeying their passions and lusts, for those the path will not be illuminated by light, for those the night will not pass, and in deep darkness they will end their sinful dark life.

And what does the words of the apostle mean: "Put on Christ"? How can you put on Christ? Warm clothes in winter, summer clothes in summer keep our body from cold and heat.

But our soul also suffers from cold and heat - from the coolness of demonic obsessions, from the heat of passions and lusts. And it is necessary, it is essential that our soul also be warmed, just as our body is warmed. What warms our souls? Only the grace of the Holy Spirit, for it is as necessary for our soul as clothing for the body, for without this protection nothing will protect us from the hellish cold; we will not defend ourselves in any way from the accursed heat of passions and lusts.

And so, as we go further and further along the narrow and thorny path indicated by Christ, as we are filled with love for our neighbors, as we do the commandments of Christ, we fulfill His will - to the extent we put on Christ - in our souls and are clothed with holy spiritual garments.

The holy apostle says that when the night passes and the light shines, we must change our whole life, gradually change it. We should not indulge in feasting, drunkenness, voluptuousness, envy, our own lusts, but we should live a new life, a holy life, a pure life.

And how many of our unfortunate brethren there are who do not know this, do not want to hear these words of the apostle, who are never, even on Holy Days, even on Great Friday, afraid to get drunk with wine, not afraid to indulge in feasting. Let it not happen to us!

The time of Great Lent has come, the time when we must learn abstinence, abstinence not only from overeating and tasty dishes, but all abstinence - abstinence from our lusts, abstinence from evil words and from malice and hatred.

This blessed time begins when we must live in a completely different way, humbling our flesh with fasting, for the significance of fasting is great.

If we learn to subdue the lusts of the flesh, then little by little we will learn to abstain from everything that defiles our soul, from all unrighteousness, from spiritual and bodily impurity.

The blessed time has come when we must stop feasting, when we must leave voluptuousness, when we must mourn over our sins - this time of grace has come.

Rejoice that it has come, and spend it as the holy apostle teaches. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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