April 7, 2023

Homily on the Possibility of Being Saved Under Any Conditions of Time (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 On the Possibility of Being Saved Under Any Conditions of Time

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on April 16, 1948 - 
Friday of the Fifth Week of Great Lent)

Very often one hears that the time is now unfavorable for us to acquire salvation — that if we lived in the time of the holy apostles, we would, of course, be just as holy as they were.

But have you ever thought in what position were both the apostles and all the contemporaries of the Lord Jesus Christ? Did you think about the fact that it could not even enter their heads, that they lived with them, that the Son of God Himself preached to them? After all, they all considered Him a prophet; some considered Him a great prophet; but only Saint Peter the Apostle called Him the Son of God.

When the Lord Jesus Christ asked the apostles who they considered Him to be, the apostle Peter said: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” And this answer was so amazing, so deep, so extraordinary that the Lord answered Him: “Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonas, because it was not flesh and blood that revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 16: 17). Blessed are you, for you have received the Revelation from the Heavenly Father Himself.

So do not think that if you lived in the days of the holy apostles, we would be pure and holy, for we know how many people did not believe in Christ, reviled Him, hated Him and crucified Him. Why do you think that you would be among those who believed in Him, and not among those who reviled Christ?

So, do not think that the times of the apostles were more favorable for salvation than ours. Do not say: “If we lived in those times of the great fathers, fasters, prayers, hermits labored, when the great lamps, the saints of God, shone in the Church!” Do not think that this was an easier and more convenient time for salvation than now. On the contrary, it was harder and more difficult than the present time, because then there were many false Christs, all kinds of heretics who led people astray from the path of salvation and killed very many.

If you knew the history of the Church, you would not say that the time when the three great saints labored: Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom was a time easy for salvation.

If you knew what a hard, terrible time it was, what a storm then raged in the Church; how many heresies tore her apart, how many persecutions and torments these three saints and many others had to endure, then they would know that that time was far from favorable for salvation. On the contrary, our time is very favorable for salvation, for what does our salvation accomplish, what directs us on the path of Christ, what makes us children of God?

I have said many times that this is the path of suffering, that only on the path of suffering can one save one's souls, and our time is precisely the time of suffering, severe suffering. This means that it is favorable, which means that one only needs to endure these sufferings, as Christians must endure them in order to be saved.

This means that there is no need to remember the times of the past and bless them, yet curse the present time. One must know that at all times and in every place people who truly seek salvation can find it.

It is only necessary that with all our strength, with all the fibers of our souls, we strive for salvation, that we strive to follow Christ, that we fulfill His commandments. And if you are surrounded by a huge crowd of people who reject Christ, impious people, even reviling Christ, then this precisely means that you are like the holy apostle Peter, "a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people" (1 Pet. 2:9), it is necessary to shine before the ungodly with his faith, his purity, his holiness. This requires constant and tireless work.

You see how many overturned wagons, some remnants of wagons and steam locomotives, are now lying around the station and behind the station; you see mountains of rusty iron. After all, this is the death of iron, it dies, because rust eats away at it. Why is she sharpening iron? Because it was left without use, the cars are lying around, no one cares about them.

Let this be an image of the fact that if your soul also remains inactive, in complete neglect of salvation, that if we are not in an eternal movement towards goodness, towards purity and holiness, but if we are like iron scrap, then not only rust will cover our souls, but much worse: death - spiritual death will take possession of the negligent soul.

Movement is the general law of nature: where there is no movement, there is death. It is necessary that all the forces of your soul be in relentless, unceasing movement. It is necessary that the soul be cleansed by the fire of suffering, just as rust is cleansed from iron by fire, for it is melted down by fire. You also know that your soul will not be covered by the shadow of death only when all the powers of your mind, when all your feelings are directed towards walking, running, in order to strive all forward, as the apostle Paul strived forward; strive, never remembering the past: everything is forward, forward and forward.

May your spirit be in constant striving for Christ, and then you will inherit salvation!

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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