April 14, 2023

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

Lessons in Love from the Cross

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

Here we come again to hear about the sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ. And this is extremely important.

What we hear and see deeply affects our souls, leaves a deep imprint on them. Whether we hear evil, whether we see crimes, we shudder, we are horrified. Are we witnesses of the good, pure and lofty - then we are touched in the heart and in the mind we say: “I would do the same!”

There have been many terrible crimes in the history of the human race. Conscience protests against them. But no matter how terrible all these atrocities are, they are nothing, a speck of dust compared to a huge mountain, they are a drop of water compared to the ocean, if you think about the greatest of atrocities, the terrible execution of the Son of God, the One who came down to earth from heaven to save the human race, the One Who was meek and quiet, Who “did not quench the smoking flax, did not break the bruised reed” (see Is. 42:3), Who was full of love for the human race, unearthly love, such as the earth has never sen and could not imagine. He is executed, His blood flows on the Cross...

Our heart is shaken by the horror of this execution, but at the same time it is filled with the deepest tenderness and joy, because this voluntary Sacrifice, the death of an innocent Sufferer on the Cross, shows us the pinnacle of Divine love, which illumined the world from the Cross. And from the Cross we hear His words, sealed with unheard-of love, unheard-of meekness and all-forgiveness, for He prays for those who crucified Him, opens the door to paradise for the repentant thief, stretches out His most pure hands to all of us sinners, thirsting for our salvation.

But the world heard from the Cross the terrible words: “My God, My God! Why have You forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46). How could they be uttered by the same lips that said: “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30)? Was He not always in unbreakable communion with His Father? Of course he was. What do these terrible words mean?

Bold people say that on the Cross the Lord did not experience any suffering. In the early times of Christianity, there were heretics known as Docetists who impiously taught that the Body of Jesus was not truly human, but illusory, and therefore the Lord Jesus Christ did not suffer any pain. And the Monophysites asserted that in Jesus Christ human nature was wholly absorbed by Divine nature. But we know that He was both True God and True Man. We know that His human nature endured terrible, indescribable suffering and agony on the Cross.

And these words of the Lord, uttered from the Cross, confirm this more strongly than all the arguments and refute the heretical teachings. If the Body of Christ were illusory, if in the Son of God the divine nature completely ruled over human nature, would the world hear these terrible words?

Could the Father forsake Him? Of course not. But the torments were so unbearable and terrible that, as a Man, Christ cried out to God: “My God, My God! Why have You forsaken Me?"

Here is what the Hieromartyr Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, who lived in the third century, said: "For what purpose is the Lord forsaken? So that we may not be forsaken by God. To redeem us from our sins and eternal death; to testify to the greatest love for the human race; to prove the justice and mercy of God, to draw our hearts to Him, as an example to all sufferers."

And let us also perceive the holy grace-filled lesson of His love for His Most Pure and Most Holy Mother, Whose heart, when She stood at the Cross, was pierced by a sword, struck by a terrible grief according to the prophecy of Saint Symeon the God-bearer. She was silent, and Her silence expressed Her grief incomparably deeper than cries, weepings and lamentations. Next to Her stood Mary, the wife of Cleopas, Mary Magdalene and the beloved disciple of Christ John. She was cared for by the Son of God, who endured unspeakable torments. He turned His gaze to Her and, pointing with his eyes at the Apostle John, said: “Woman, here is Your son.” And John received the Mother of God into his house, and cared for Her until Her death (see John 19:26-27).

But here came the end of the unimaginable severity of the feat of the Son of God, who by His death redeemed the world from the power of the devil. We hear His last words, filled with incomprehensible love for the Father: “Father! Into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:46). His mouth fell silent, His eyes were closed, His tongue became motionless, the holy head fell on His chest. But the stones could not be silent. The earth shook and the rocks cracked.

The centurion who commanded the execution, whose name was Longinus, and the soldiers who performed it, seeing all this, shuddered and were horrified. The love of Christ breaks even stony hearts. The centurion believed in Christ and exclaimed: “Truly, this Man was the Son of God” (Mark 15:39). Everything he saw and heard so shocked him that he soon accepted Baptism and subsequently ended his life as a martyr, for the enemies of Christ, the scribes, high priests and Pharisees, did not tolerate the fact that the Roman centurion turned to Christ, slandered him before Pilate, and he gave the order to cut off his head.

O blessed martyr Longinus, teach us to turn to Christ with all our hearts and love Him.

Oh my God! What praise, what thanksgiving we bring to You for what You have done for us! There is nothing we can do to be even slightly worthy of it. Oh, our Lord, Lord! Let us bring to Thee all the little that we can bring. Let us bring our tears and water with them Your most pure Body, slain by those whom You came to save. We bring you our love...

Help us, Lord, to love You until the end of our lives, help us follow the path that You have shown us. Help get rid of the power of the devil, the temptations created by him. Lead us on the path of salvation and bring us into Your kingdom. Amen.
Source: Translated by John Sanidopouls.

Become a Patreon or Paypal Supporter:

Recurring Gifts

Contact Form


Email *

Message *