July 13, 2023

Homily One on the Feast of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on July 8/21, 1953)

Have you ever thought about why the Lord revealed so many miraculous icons of the Most Holy Theotokos? We know about ninety-nine miraculous icons of her.

What does it mean? Why did the Lord exalt His Most Pure Mother so? Why are there so many miracles from Her holy icons? Of course, all the miracles that are performed from the miraculous icons of the Most Holy Theotokos, She works not by Her own power, but by the power of God: the Lord works miracles through Her.

Why do so many miracles happen by the will of God from the holy icons of the Most Holy Theotokos? Why was the appearance of these icons often unusual, miraculous?

The Tikhvin Icon of the Mother of God appeared suddenly on a tree in the forest, on the banks of a small river. Those who saw it tried to remove it, but in no way could; they went to the priests, and brought them; the priests served a moleben to the Most Pure Theotokos, and the icon itself descended into their hands. Immediately they began to build a chapel, but when part of the work had already been completed, and night fell, everyone went to bed. The next morning they saw that there was nothing that was being built, there were no building materials, even the wood chips had disappeared.

Searching, they found that the entire unfinished church, all the boards and beams, were thrown by an invisible force to the other side, for it was pleasing to the Most Holy Theotokos that the church be built on this place indicated by Her.

The appearance of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God was also wondrous. I spoke about this earlier, you know, and from your pastor - I will not repeat this.

Let us think about why we know only the icons of the Most Holy Theotokos as miraculous, why we do not know a single miraculous icon of the Lord Jesus, not a single icon of the Forerunner of the Lord, the holy apostles - only one or two icons of Saint Nicholas can be called miraculous.

This means that God Himself turns our hearts to the Most Pure Mother of His Son according to the flesh, works miracles from Her icon, so that we love Her, so that we feel with all our hearts that She is our true Mother of Mercy, the Heavenly Defender.

For this, the Lord glorified Her many icons, so that we, unlike those proud people who reject the veneration of the Most Holy Theotokos, calling Her simply a pious woman, as Baptists and all sectarians do, so that we all, Orthodox, honor Her, as our Catholic brethren also honor her, who, perhaps even more ardently than we Orthodox, love and honor the Most Holy Theotokos.

By the appearance of many miraculous icons of the Most Holy Theotokos, God Himself affirms the veneration of icons, established as a dogma by the Seventh Ecumenical Synod.

Is it possible not to venerate the icons to which miraculous power has been given by God?!

And the Most Holy Theotokos Herself, when the Apostle Luke showed Her the image of Her painted by him, said: “The grace of Him Who was born of Me and My mercy be with this icon.”

At every Matins we hear the song that the Theotokos herself sang when she came to her relative Elizabeth: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed!”

She Herself said that all generations should honor Her and will bless Her. But you see, both Protestants and sectarians do not want to hear anything like this, they do not want to turn their hearts to the Mother of God, they do not resort, like us, to Her in all sorrows and tribulations, as small children resort first of all to their mother.

Many of us feel like sinners and think that our feeble prayers do not ascend like incense to God; they pray first of all to the Theotokos, asking Her, as their mother, to bring their prayers to Her Son and God.

She always prays for us - for those who honor Her and believe in Her, She brings our prayers to the throne of God. That is why we love the Most Holy Theotokos so much, that is why we revere Her so. We love her for her inexpressible humility, for her inexpressible mercy.

And the Lord glorified Her icons with miracles for her humility, such great humility that no woman possessed - for this humility God exalted Her above all archangels and angels, for this humility miraculous power was granted to Her icons.

Let us remember that God requires of us, first of all and most of all, humility, for God's commandment "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven" is placed at the head of all the beatitudes.

The proud, devoid of humility, living by their own mind and their own will, are very far from God. And we Christians, let us be humble before God, as She was humble, and bowing our knees before Her Most Pure icon, with tears we will pray that She will strengthen our weak and feeble prayers with Her prayers. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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