March 18, 2023

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

 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered in 1954)

"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.”

I know, I know how burdened you are with life and work, how much peace you need. Let us go to Him, our Savior, Who calls us, let us learn from Him - and we will find the only true and blissful peace.

Let us learn from Him humility, which was so clearly manifested already at His birth in the cattle pen, in the manger of Bethlehem.

Let us think about what persecutions He was subjected to throughout His life: already as a newborn baby He escaped to Egypt from Herod, who wanted to kill Him.

After the full truth of His preaching in the synagogue of Nazareth, He was led in a violent crowd to the edge of a high rock in order to cast Him into the abyss. More than once the Jews grabbed stones to beat Him for preaching about Himself.

Have you ever been persecuted with such fury? Think of Him, so often offended. Those who reviled Him said that He performed His great miracles with the power of demons.

Remember this - both small and insignificant will seem to you the insults and dark suspicions that you hear about yourself.

You have many sorrows, and it is difficult for you to endure them. Diseases torment you, and you endure them cowardly. Did not Isaiah call Him, our Lord, a Man of Sorrows and a Knower of Sickness?

His humility was so immeasurable that He, the sinless Son of God, received from John the Forerunner the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, for He had to fulfill all righteousness. Let us learn humility from Him. Let us love and fulfill all righteousness.

You are tired of constant work and crave rest. And He and His holy apostles were always in such unceasing labors that often there was no time even for them to take food.

You are burdened with cares for yourself and your families. And He had constant concern for the huge crowd of people who accompanied Him, waiting from Him for the words of His Divine teaching and the healing of their countless sick.

You need rest... But He did not have it, and only sometimes He even left His disciples somewhere on a high mountain, so that there, in the deep stillness of the night, He could rest his soul in prayerful communion with His Father.

You often get tired... Didn't He get tired more than you, walking 200 miles from Jerusalem to Galilee?

It is difficult for you to endure insults and ridicule, bewilderment and dishonor ... Remember how in the Garden of Gethsemane He was bound as a robber; how, at the trial in the house of the high priest, even the servants beat Him on the cheeks with dirty hands and spat in his face; how they covered His face with a handkerchief, beat Him on the head with a stick and said: “Tell me, Christ, who struck you?” Think about how all your offenses and insults are as insignificant compared to this dishonor of the Son of God, like the smallest grain of sand compared to the highest mountains.

Think about this - and your indignation and rage will subside, and you will find peace for your souls.

Remember how mercilessly they beat the Lord Jesus with terrible Roman whips that tore off pieces of the body; how He fell under the weight of His cross.

And above all and most of all, always keep before your spiritual eyes His terrible cross, His crucifixion; the blood that flowed over the cross and dripped onto the ground, the blood with which He washed our sins.

Always remember our Lord Jesus Christ, and then, according to His holy word, you will find rest for your souls. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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