March 29, 2023

Homily on Being a Servant and Child of God (St. Luke of Simferopol)

On Being a Servant and Child of God
By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on April 6, 1947 - Tuesday of the 4th week of Great Lent)

“For God so love the world, that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16). He gave for our salvation, gave in order to deliver us from our sins, to deliver us from unrighteousness, from our uncleanness. The Son of God fulfilled this greatest work, and saved us all, and taught us how we should live, gave us His holy commandments.

Glorify the name of Christ in your hearts! Remember, put this forever in your hearts, that this is the greatest mercy of God. If you do this, you will be intelligent, deeply intelligent, you will know the truth and reality. But it is not enough to know - one must fulfill, one must follow this path, and to follow the path of Christ means to fulfill the commandments of Christ.

That's when you enter the difficult path of doing spiritual things, then you will all become servants of Christ. Many people hate the word "servant", they do not want to be a servant to anyone, they strive for unlimited freedom. But what about us, do we really not want to be the servants of Christ? No, no, we will rejoice at this name, rejoice, for you know that the servant sees the face of his master, has fellowship with him, the servant speaks with the master, fulfills his commands. And the servant is happy if he sees the face of the master always bright and full of goodwill.

The servants of Christ enter into communion with Christ Himself, they also spiritually see the face of Christ, they converse with Him in their prayer, they speak with Him. If they are worthy, if they succeed in fulfilling the commandments of Christ, they enter into direct communion with Christ, and in this spiritual communion receive from Christ wondrous and precious suggestions and instructions; they even hear Him with their spiritual ear, for Christ knows how to speak to us.

He speaks in different ways. He often speaks in the words of Holy Scripture, and it happens that a person full of faith in Christ, full of love for Him, reads humbly, concentrating his whole mind on what he reads; he reads the words of Holy Scripture, and suddenly, suddenly, some of these words, like lightning, pierce his mind, and he understands with fear and trembling that God Himself is speaking to him in the words of Holy Scripture. This is evidenced by the sudden emotional excitement that arises in his soul.

Sometimes God speaks to people in their dreams. In a dream He revealed His decrees, His desires to the patriarchs and prophets. You see, the servants of Christ are rewarded with such happiness that they enter into direct communion with Him, and when they reach such a degree of spiritual perfection that they enter into communion with Christ, they cease to be only servants, and they ascend to the highest level of communion with God, communion with Christ, for when our Lord Jesus Christ saw that His disciples, the holy apostles, had already deeply, deeply understood and put His words, His holy teaching into their hearts, saw that they were cleansed from filth of soul and body, then He said to them: “I no longer call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing." The holy apostles already knew what Christ did and why He did it. “But I call you friends, because I told you everything that I heard from My Father” (John 15:15).

You see, Christ raised them from the level of servants to the high, elevated level of His friends. And to be a friend of Christ is the greatest happiness; to be a friend of Christ means to have direct, constant fellowship with Him, it means to receive help from Him, the great spiritual help that is given when we need to go through all the dark rapids, and ditches, and abysses of the world. He guides us everywhere unharmed, as was the case with the holy apostles.

It happens with every Christian: when the servant of Christ fulfills everything commanded to him, then he will be raised to the elevated level of a friend of Christ. And it is possible for everyone to achieve this, it entirely depends on your will, on your zeal, on your fervor in striving for truth and goodness, to achieve the elevated title of a friend of Christ.

And when you achieve this, then your prayer will become completely different from the prayer of a servant, prayer will become elevated, spiritualized. And you will say with the Apostle Paul that: “You did not receive the spirit of bondage to live in fear again, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by which we cry: 'Abba, Father!'” (Rom. 8:15). By the Spirit, by the Holy Spirit, we cry out to God, like children to their father, feeling like children of God. In this way, we can already in this life achieve the great happiness of being children and friends of God.

And whoever does not heed His words, who despises the Cross of Christ, for whom the Blood of Christ is not the greatest treasure of the world, let him remember what awaits him, let him remember the words of Saint Symeon the God-bearer, spoken by him on the day of the Reception of the Lord: "Behold, this One is appointed for the falling and rising of many in Israel and for a sign of contention” (Luke 2:34).

There were countless falls of people who entered into disputes, did not want to humbly accept in their hearts the great truth that God the Word saved us by His death on the cross. For them He became a stumbling block, a stone upon which they stumbled and broke.               

And for many, many who loved Christ and followed Him, He became the Truth, the Way and the Life. They have risen from the abyss of sin, they are washed by His Holy Blood, they, according to the words of the holy Apostle Paul, have become "For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life" (2 Corinthians 2:15–16).

Remember this, be such that the fragrance of Christ emanates from you for your unfortunate unbelieving loved ones, so that from none of you does a deadly smell emanate unto death. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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