March 24, 2023

Fifth Homily for the Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 Fifth Homily for the Sunday of the Veneration of the Cross

On Patience

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered in 1958)

In the Gospel of Luke we read the deeply important words of Christ: "By your patience you will gain your souls" (Luke 21:19). Oh, our Lord, Lord! What are you saying!? Is the value of the virtue of patience so immense, so immeasurable, that it can even save our souls?

If, according to the word of Christ, patience is so saving, then it can be placed next to the queen of all virtues - humility, next to meekness, and we need to think deeply about the word of the Lord about patience. Let us try, to the extent of our weak mind, to understand the meaning of the words of Christ. To do this, we need to remember that a person consists of a spirit, soul and body, and that everything difficult in our life - illnesses, worldly sorrows, disappointments and insults - we endure everything with this three-part nature of ours - spirit, soul and body. Physical pains, suffering from illnesses, are often perceived to the strongest degree by our soul and spirit. Our brain and entire nervous system are in charge of all normal and painful processes in our body, regulating and coordinating them. And our spirit rules over the soul.

In the lives of the holy martyrs of Christ, we read with amazement how easily and calmly they endured unimaginably terrible torments and tortures. This is incomprehensible to materialists, and they consider it a fable, but we know that the spirit of the martyrs, flaming with immeasurable faith in Christ and love for Him, had tremendous power over their bodies and could powerfully alleviate their suffering.

We know that so-called psychotherapy plays a significant role in modern medicine, with a verbal, mental influence on patients, often powerfully and beneficially influencing the course of the disease. If the effect of the patience of the saints on their torment was so great and beneficial, then unbelief, grumbling against God, and the cries and tears of sinful people only increase their suffering.

And for us Christians, when a painful illness overtakes us, and first of all we remember doctors and medicines, isn’t it better to first of all remember our long-suffering Lord Jesus Christ, whom the prophet Isaiah calls the Man of Sorrows and the Knower of Sickness?

The same can be said about the transfer of grievances. Are we able, as we should and to please God, to endure the offenses and insults inflicted on us?

Oh no, to our shame, no. Even in our Christian environment, we see how often it happens that those who have not acquired the virtues of humility and patience respond to resentment with resentment, and an insult with an insult. And the quarrel flares up more and more and comes to a fight, and even bloodshed.

A silent, calm transfer of grievances is the best protection against the offender. Nothing deters the offending more than the meek patience of the offended.

God protects the offended. Yes, we should take an example from the majority of our contemporaries, who attach great importance to building and strengthening the body through physical education. But we need to tirelessly care not so much about the culture of the body, but about the perfection of the spirit, in which a large role belongs to the exercises in patience, in the meek patience of even serious illnesses, in the complacent endurance of resentments and insults, in curbing slander, in acquiring the great virtue of patience.

Let us remember the testament of the Apostle Peter in his first universal epistle about the imitation of the Lord Jesus Christ, who “when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness — by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Pet. 2:23-24).

Let me also remind you of the words of the Apostle Paul in his epistle to the Hebrews, in which he speaks of those severe sufferings in persecution that the great righteous endured. Of these, “Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented — of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls” (Heb. 11:35-38; 12:1-3).

I will end my sermon with the good wishes of the Apostle Paul: “May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ" (2 Thess. 3:5). Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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