June 5, 2023

First Homily for the Monday of the Holy Spirit (St. Luke of Simferopol)

An Interpretation of the Prayer: "Heavenly King, Comforter"
By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on June 25, 1945)

On the Day of the Holy Spirit, we must turn the depth of our thoughts to the knowledge of Him. In the prayer to the Holy Spirit, extremely much is said: "Heavenly King, Comforter, the Spirit of truth." This is our Comforter, the One whom the Lord Jesus Christ sent to His disciples when He ascended from them into heaven (see John 14:18, 15:26, 14:26). This is the Comforter Who fills the emptiness of our heart, drives away longing from it, the Only One Who can truly console us.

Many people are in severe anguish, conscious of the emptiness and insignificance of their own lives. They do not know the full, deep comfort that the hearts of Christians experience. They do not seek the Holy Spirit, because they did not know Him and live on their own, without God. The Holy Spirit comforts ordinary, far from holiness Christians when, in sorrows, they find that they deserve misfortunes, when they turn their minds and spiritual eyes into their hearts, and see many sins and impurities there, and repent, and wash this dirt with tears and cry: "Lord, the Heavenly King, Comforter, the Spirit of truth!" It is only necessary to desire this consolation with all your heart and purify your heart.

The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of truth, for only in Him is all the fullness of truth. Truth is known only to those who have communion with the Holy Spirit, those who receive the grace of the Holy Spirit, directing thoughts and feelings on the path of truth. Many try to find truth where there is none, not knowing that all truth is in the Holy Spirit. They seek the truth in philosophical books, but find its appearance without understanding this falsity. But the Holy Spirit is the fullness of truth.

"Heavenly King, Comforter, the Spirit of truth, Who is everywhere present and fills all things." That is, the Holy Spirit is omnipresent and fills everything, the whole creation lives by Him, for He is the Giver of life. The most serious scientists do not know and cannot know where life comes from. This is the greatest mystery in science. Since ancient times, scientific thought has tried to penetrate the mystery of life and explain how life suddenly arose from dead nature. The basis of the life of every creature - animal and human - is a substance, in science called protoplasm. It is an essential part of the cells from which the bodies of living beings are built. In appearance, protoplasm is a muddy mucus, and it contains the immeasurable power of life, the innumerable secrets of being. And scientists have been working on

What is protoplasm? In appearance, it is only some kind of muddy mucus, and it contains the immeasurable power of life, it hides absolutely innumerable secrets of being. And now scientific thought has been working for a long time to create an artificial protoplasm from proteins (for protoplasm is a protein substance). But no matter how hard scientists try to synthesize it, nothing comes out - no combination of proteins has vital properties. This life force can only be given by the One Who gives life to everything, Who is the Beginning of life - the Holy Spirit.

And the most important and unconditional confirmation of this truth was given by our Lord and God Jesus Christ Himself, who said: "The Spirit gives life ..." (John 6:63). These words of the Divine Teacher are sufficient for not looking for an answer to the question of the origin of life in any of the depths of science and for considering the only Life-giver to be the Holy Spirit.

On the first page of Genesis we read that at first the earth created by God was formless and empty (Gen. 1:2), most of it was water, and the Spirit of God hovered over the water (Gen. 1:2). What does it mean? This means that He communicated to the waters the creative energy necessary for life to arise in them; for the first living creatures — reptiles, amphibia, and fish — appeared in the water. Life arose in the water by the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

By the breath of God's mouth all the Powers of Heaven were created: "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth" (Ps. 32:6). The Spirit of God gave life to the first body of man, Adam, created from the dust of the earth, for it is said in Scripture that God breathed into this body the breath of life (see Gen. 2:7). It is vain to look for another source of life.

What is the human soul? What is the human spirit? Man is created in the image and likeness of God. In what way? The Old Believers represent God the Father as bearded and therefore consider shaved beards to be a distortion of the image of God. But God is incorporeal, and not the human body will be like Him, but the spirit, which is the breath of the Holy Spirit. But not only the human spirit has its origin from the Spirit of God. Everything is created, everything lives and everything moves only by that spiritual energy, the source of which is the Holy Spirit Himself. This energy, the Spirit of God, penetrates everything, illuminates everyone, spiritualizes everything. Both in animals and in plants there is a small particle of the Spirit, for there is life in them, and where there is life, there is also the Holy Spirit. Along with life, they received a faint breath of the Holy Spirit.

He gives life to a small extent a blade of grass and a flower; He bestows life of a higher order to a great extent on people who, by diligent fulfillment of the commandments of Christ, have been deemed worthy to become temples of the Holy Spirit who lives in them. He gives them His gifts in great abundance: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, goodness, mercy, faith, meekness, temperance (Gal. 5:22-23).

And not only in living beings, but also in all inorganic nature, which people blindly call dead: in rocks, rivers, sea waves, boundless deserts - the Holy Spirit lives and moves in everything, for He "is everywhere present and fills all things." If the Holy Spirit did not live in nature, then the whole universe would not exist in that marvelous harmony and grandeur in which it appears before our eyes. It is impossible to admit that the world was not created by God. The world was created by the outpouring of the love of God. Everything is created and moved by the love of God, by the love of the Spirit, by which we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28), as the Apostle Paul said on the Areopagus of Athens.

Have you ever thought about the significance for us and for all of nature that wondrous beauty of God, which shines throughout the world? Where is it from and why? Is it really possible to think that beauty has only a practical, utilitarian purpose? Is it really possible to say that male birds, having beautiful plumage and singing in a way that females do not sing, possess this beauty only in order to attract females? Do flowers caressing the eye shine with beauty only to lure insects with their colors and aroma to fertilize them with flower pollen? Of course not.

If, as materialists think, all nature and the whole world were created by themselves only according to the laws of expediency, then there would be no beauty in the world, because there is no internal connection between expediency and beauty. That which is composed of iron, black coal, clay and glass may be deeply expedient, but utterly devoid of beauty. Beauty shines all over the world, God shows us beauty even in the most tender, weakest beings. What a sweet, meek, pure beauty looks at us from the petals and corollas of forget-me-nots and violets, these delicate flowers! Have you ever thought that these little ones of God - white, pink, dove - teach us purity and meekness, which they themselves are full of? One must have a very hard heart in order not to hear this voice of God, which resounds so clearly in the beauty of the material forms of nature.

"By His Spirit He adorned the heavens" (Job 26:13). Have you not thought about the fact that the sky, in which countless stars sparkle, has a deep spiritual influence on our hearts with its beauty? After all, looking into the boundless starry sky, we perceive the idea of infinity and eternity. Quiet inner peace, a joyful smile while contemplating the wondrous beauties of the morning and evening dawn, of course, is also from the Holy Spirit - the Creator of beauty.

When we look at the mighty, formidable rocks, the tops of which are hidden behind dark clouds, when we stand by the sea on a stormy day and see how a hurricane drives huge waves along it, storming the coastal cliffs, does not our heart tremble from the power and strength of nature? We then feel worthless and weak, and we recognize all its formidable greatness. This is how the Holy Spirit humbles and teaches us with the beauty of His creations. This is how the deep truth of the Word of God is revealed to us: "the Spirit searches all things" (1 Corinthians 2:10).

If nature conceals in itself so much beauty, strength, power and silently announces them, then what can be said about the Source of this strength and beauty - about the Lord Himself? The Spirit of God fills everything with His love. All beauty - the pure and tender, which teaches us meekness and purity; and the formidable greatness of the forces of nature, which makes us tremble - all this is nothing but a powerful manifestation of that spirituality of nature.

The holy apostle Paul in the Epistle to the Romans says that the Gentiles, who do not know God, are without excuse, because everything that can be known about God is obvious to them, since God has revealed to them His eternal power and Divinity from the creation of the world through the consideration of visible creation (Rom. 1:19–20). That is, the power of the Spirit and Divinity are so clearly observed in nature, and all who, in their blindness, do not want to see the greatness of beauty, do not feel the breath of the Holy Spirit in those around us, are without excuse. Even if they have not heard preaching about God, nature itself preaches about Him. And they say that there is no God, that nature was created by chance. But how can chance create such a great harmony of the infinite universe?

The Holy Spirit is called the "Treasury of good things", of all blessings, but not those that proud and presumptuous people who cling to the earth are looking for. The Holy Spirit is the Source of spiritual blessings, the Giver of all the higher powers of the human spirit. He pours out His love as the greatest blessing on all living things and consoles us with this love. All those who walk the path of Christ and bear their cross clearly, really feel these spiritual blessings, the help of the Holy Spirit, His strengthening love.

There are many hard things in our life, a lot of hard things on the path of a bishop, and his omophorion is heavy, for his responsibility before God is great. And in the contrition of my heart, the Holy Spirit comforted me with the love that poured out from your hearts. For there is no greater happiness than to live in the midst of love, constantly feeling the love of those around you.

This is what the Holy Spirit can give, this is how infinitely great His grace is. And the goal of our life is to acquire the grace of the Holy Spirit, to become partakers of the Divine, to always partake of the Holy Spirit, to be in constant communion with Him. And we have fellowship with the Spirit of God first and foremost in prayer. Only the one who prays like Saint Seraphim of Sarov, who stood on a rock for a thousand days and nights, has full and perfect communion with God. Through constant prayer and the fulfillment of the commandments of God, the saints achieved purity of heart, its liberation by the Holy Spirit from all defilement. Therefore, the meaning of the last words of the prayer is great for us - Holy Spirit: "Come and dwell in us, and cleanse us from all defilement." Only the grace of the Holy Spirit gives us the strength to purify our hearts from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit that nests in them.

Let us ceaselessly cry out to the Holy Spirit with the words of prayer. And He will come and dwell in us, and will make us holy and righteous before God from being unclean and sinners. May the grace of the Most Holy Spirit be with us all, and may we become His pure temples. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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