April 14, 2023

Fifth Homily for Holy and Great Friday (St. Luke of Simferopol)

A Homily Before the Epitaphios on Great Friday
By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered in 1958)

The Sun of Truth - Christ our God - hid His rays. The sun of heaven, created by Him, also dimmed, seeing what the accursed people were doing with the Savior of the world.

The abyss of God's love for the human race was illuminated with a dazzling Divine light.

The satanic darkness of sin, evil and untruth thickened as never before, and premature joy reigned in hades.

For countless multitudes who believed in the incarnate Son of God and loved Him with all their hearts, the way to the Kingdom of Heaven was opened.

For their journey along this path, they receive grace-filled strength and help in the great Mysteries of Baptism and Communion of the Body and Blood of Christ, in the gifts of the grace of the Holy Spirit that are poured out on us. With his Golgotha Cross, our Savior Lord Jesus Christ crushed the head of the ancient serpent. This, of course, is only a figurative expression, for Satan and his evil angels are incorporeal spirits, and death has no power over them. And to this day, of course, Satan and his hordes of demons are striving with all their might to destroy people.

More than nineteen centuries have passed since the crucifixion of the Son of God, who assumed human flesh and blood for the salvation of the world.

For more than nineteen centuries, a relentless struggle has been going on between the dark forces of hell and the countless powers of the holy Powers of Heaven for possession of the souls and hearts of people.

The black army of the devil has achieved such great success in its struggle against goodness and truth, against peace on earth, that one can think about the approach of that terrible hour, about which our Lord Jesus Christ said: “The Son of Man, when he comes, will he find faith on earth?" (Luke 18:8).

But no matter how menacing, no matter how hard our time, let us not be discouraged, let us not lose heart: let us believe with all our heart that the final victory will go not to the dark forces of hell, but to the invincible power of God's love and truth.

In the Revelation of the Apostle John the Theologian we read about the war between the Archangel Michael, the leader of countless heavenly powers, and the devil with his huge demonic black army.

Listen to the description of this war that will take place in the heavens before the Last Judgment of Christ: “And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, 'Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come…'" (Rev. 12:7-10).

So it will be... So the history of the world will end. Thus the Cross of Christ will shine upon him.

On the Holy Epitaphion lying before you, you see the image of the Body of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, just taken down from the Cross. One must have a heart of stone so that it does not shudder before this terrible sight; to remain indifferent and cold at the sight of the tormented and murdered Most Holy Body of the God-man, at the sight of gaping wounds from nails on His hands and feet; while contemplating the open wound on the chest of our Savior, pierced by a spear, from which a stream of blood and water poured out, washing our sinful filth.

Let us bow our knees and our hearts before the Holy and terrible Epitaphion, let us shed tears and kiss the terrible wounds and sores of Christ. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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