March 24, 2023

That the Most Holy Theotokos was a Jewess (A Homily of St. Luke of Simferopol)

That the Most Holy Theotokos was a Jewess

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on April 3, 1947 - Saturday of the 3rd week of Great Lent)

My task - to teach you the basics of the Christian faith - is already difficult in itself; it is made very difficult by the fact that some of you, perhaps even many, are not at all prepared to perceive my words, understand them improperly, and often distort them.

Recently, with extreme surprise, I heard that my words about the Most Holy Theotokos in one of my sermons, in which I said that She was Jewish, struck some of you very unpleasantly. “What, our Most Holy Theotokos is a Jewess!?”

Well, you want her to be Russian? But the Russian people did not yet exist then. If so, then the French will want Her to be French, and the Germans will want Her to be German, the Italians to be Italian. But she was Jewish. They say: “What, and Jesus Christ was a Jew!? So, we, then, worship the Jew crucified on the Cross!?”

Oh my Lord, my Lord! How these crazy words struck me, this complete ignorance of sacred history, this impious reasoning. Do you really not know that our forefather Abraham was the ancestor of the people of Israel, i.e. Jewish people! Don't you know that all the holy prophets were Jews? Have you never read in the epistle of the holy Apostle Paul to the Hebrews such words: “It is known that our Lord has risen from the tribe of Judah”? What is the tribe of Judah? The tribe of Judah is one of the 12 tribes, of the 12 clans into which the people of Israel, the Jewish people, were divided.

So that Christ was a Jew is unpleasant to some. Why might this be unpleasant? How can the people who were chosen by God, marked by God, be unpleasant, how? Because we still have old antipathies towards the Jews. Hence, this antipathy must be uprooted. If this is God's chosen people, then we must treat them with deep respect, with love.

After all, Christianity began from the bowels of the Jewish people, the first Christians were all Jews. Should we not, therefore, love the people from which Christ arose, from which our Christianity also originated?

To our grief, to the grief of the Jews even more, this people rejected their Messiah, their Savior, rejected Christ, did not believe and still do not believe in Him. Well, let us be heartbroken, we will weep over them, we will pity them with all our heart, but let us know and firmly remember what the holy apostle Paul says about the people of Israel in his epistle to the Romans: “For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved” (Rom. 11:25–26).

They rejected the One who came from Zion, they rejected Christ, the wicked reject Him until the number of the Gentiles is fulfilled, but the entire remnant of the people of Israel, the people of God, the chosen ones, will believe, will believe with all their hearts in Christ and they will be our closest, dearest brethren.

Let the lips of the wicked be silent, daring to speak rude words mocking Christ, about which I said: “Do we really worship the Jew crucified on the cross!?” Yes, we will, we will worship Him, for this Jew was the Son of God. Let us revere the Most Holy Theotokos with all our hearts and let us not be embarrassed by the fact that She was a Jewess. Let us praise God for the fact that from the bowels of the Jewish people the Blessed Virgin Mother of God has shone forth.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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