February 2, 2023

Homily Two on the Feast of the Reception of the Lord (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered in 1953)

1953 years ago, for the first time, the world heard that prayer of St. Symeon the God-Receiver, which you now hear every day at Vespers: “Now let Your servant depart in peace, Master, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.”

The soul of St. Symeon the God-Receiver departed in peace, after 300 years of life in the world in anticipation of the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Emmanuel, which means, 'God is with us.'"

And why do you constantly hear this prayer now? Why is it, like no other, repeated at every Vespers?

In order to remember the hour of death, so that you remember that you too must die in such a world as St. Symeon the God-Receiver.

Do you not know how terribly evil sinners die, who have lived all their lives in impiety, in lies, theft, and murders? How do traitors die on the gallows and on the chopping block? Do you not know what the death of every unbeliever is, and especially of a blasphemer: how terrible it is for him to die, how his heart trembles when death appears before him?

You just heard the words of the Psalm: "The death of sinners is fierce." Truly fierce and devoid of all peace.

Do then remember the prayer of St. Symeon the God-Receiver, that you should not die such a fierce, shameful death, but the most pure, holy one.

In deep peace within our hearts, all of us Christians must die.

You know how true Christians died, how their death was not like the death of sinners: how Seraphim of Sarov died, kneeling before the icon of our Lady the Mother of God? How Metropolitan Philaret and many others also died before the icon of our Lady.

Ask God for such a peaceful death when you hear the holy prayer at Vespers: “Now let Your servant depart in peace, Master, according to Your word.”

All of us Christians must live in the world and die in the world.

And you know how little peace there is in the world. You know how people are restless, suffering in their souls, having no peace - neither external peace with people, nor inner peace within their conscience.

And the Lord calls us to peace and rest. Remember, always remember the words of Christ: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Here, here is where true peace is, here is where one must seek peace - not at all where the people of this world are looking for it - they are looking for it and do not find it. They want to avoid bodily torments, spiritual torments with their strength, their mind, their efforts - they achieve nothing, for peace is only with God, Who is the God of peace.

Oh, how many unfortunate workers are crushed by overwork! Oh, how many are doomed by their own sins and the impurity of those around them, for the world is full of sin and lies!

Anywhere and everywhere there is a lie, anywhere and everywhere there is no truth, and nowhere, nowhere is there truth, and nowhere is there peace, nowhere is there rest. Rest is only with God, only with Christ: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” How will He give them rest? He will rest them in His bosom, He will rest them with His love, His blessing, His fellowship with them, He will rest them as His friends.

And in order to give rest, one must seek Him, one must call on Him: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

It is necessary to reject the heavy, unbearable, full of evil and lies yoke of this world, throw it off our shoulders and lay on them the light and good yoke of Christ.

What is this yoke? This is a light, good yoke, this is the yoke that, having taken it on his shoulders, a person will feel joy, will feel peace and tranquility, for no matter how hard people come against us for the name of Christ, this heaviness will never surpass the joy that we feel, taking on our shoulders the yoke of Christ, for we will feel, clearly feel that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself walks beside us and Himself supports our cross. He makes it light, and the yoke a joyful yoke, for from the cross, even from the heavy suffering of the cross, joy flows, the great joy of God. And this joy makes the yoke of Christ easy and good.

A person who has put the yoke of Christ on his frame becomes a different person, not the same as he was before, for he will learn meekness and humility from Christ Himself.

And meekness and humility are that great, that grace-filled thing that protects from all kinds of misfortunes and torments, from all the attacks of demons. Demons are powerless before meekness and humility, Satan himself is powerless, for those who follow Christ have become like Him, the Image of meekness and humility.

So, if you want the words of the prayer of Symeon the God-Receiver to be fulfilled in you, if you want to have boldness at the hour of death, repeat his prayer and say: “Now let Your servant depart in peace, Master, according to Your word” - if you want this, then go follow Christ, taking His yoke upon yourselves, learning from Him, for He is meek and lowly in heart. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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