May 11, 2023

Homily for the Thursday After the Sunday of the Paralytic - Let Us Imitate the Long-Suffering Job (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on May 27, 1948)

The Holy Apostle Paul says this about himself: "But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; by purity, by knowledge, by long-suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left" (2 Cor. 6:4–7). He is a holy example for all of us Christians. We must, like him, be true Christians. Take a look at the last words. It is known that there are people who equally own the right and left hand. The words "right" and "left" have a spiritual connotation. To the right is everything that is good, pure, true, and holy. On the left - everything evil, crafty, terrible, painful, deceitful. And we must have two spiritual hands, equally active.

In the right hand, we must hold the weapon of truth in those cases when everything that is to our right is sent to our hearts - everything that is grace-filled and blessed, when we are given the great mercy of God, when we grow spiritually and our heart is cleansed, freed from passions and lusts, when the Lord gives us blessings in material life, and everything favors us. Why do we need this weapon? For protection from very serious danger and great disasters. For often even ascetics who have reached great spiritual perfection, when everything was given to them from the right, happened to fall into temptation and in their hearts attribute these spiritual achievements to themselves, to their prayers, to their merits, to their fasting and vigil. And as soon as they allowed these thoughts, they fell into a terrible danger of being caught by the passion of pride, conceit and vanity, if the weapon of truth in their right hand turned out to be useless and they did not use it in time to immediately, at the root, stop self-exaltation. So, this is a weapon of great importance: without it we cannot resist, even when everything is quite safe.

Let us imitate the long-suffering Job, who was great, rich and noble, had sons and daughters, lived in complete prosperity, but always firmly held the weapon of truth in his right hand, never stopped thinking about the unfortunate and poor, was a father to the sick and orphans, clothed the suffering from the cold with woolen clothes, fed the starving; he constantly took care of his children, daily offered sacrifices to God for the sins that they could commit (see Job. 1:1-5). So it is for us, when God grants us His grace, we must protect our spiritual disposition, guarding ourselves from falls and self-conceit.

Our spiritual left hand is those spiritual forces with which we resist all enemy attacks. In the left hand we must hold a weapon against what confuses us, depresses us, torments us, what darkens our life with lies and slander. We must defend ourselves with these weapons so as not to fall into despondency, despair and indifference when bodily and spiritual troubles befall us. For many in difficult circumstances begin to murmur and indulge in sorrow not according to God. With the weapon of truth in our left hand - patience, obedience to the will of God, trust in Him - we must meet all the trials that befall us.

And here also we must imitate the righteous long-suffering Job. He lost everything in one day: his children and all his wealth. This befell him by the permission of God, for God gave Satan permission to test Job with severe calamities and cover his very body with leprosy, but did not touch his soul (see Job 1:14–19, 6–7 ). How did the righteous Job behave? With the weapon of truth in his left hand, he sat down on a heap of ashes, cut off his long hair and scraped off his ulcers with a shard (see Job 2:8). And in such a terrible situation, he did not murmur against God. He said: "Naked I came out of my mother's womb, and naked I will return. The Lord gave, the Lord took away. May the name of the Lord be blessed" (Job 1:21).

That's how he defended himself from the devil. Is this not an example of how we should act when God visits us with severe trials? And we must be just as firm and able to endure everything in our Lord Jesus Christ, to Him be glory and power with His Most Holy Father, with His Good and Life-giving Spirit forever and ever. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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