July 15, 2023

Homily Two 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 in Alushta on July 8/21, 1957)
The enemy of our salvation, the devil, especially hates the two most important commandments of Christ - about humility and obedience - and with all his might he pushes weak Christians onto the path of self-will and pride, especially teaches to despise the canons and decrees of the Ecumenical and Local Synods and consider the authority of the great Fathers and Teachers of the Church as nothing.

Those who have severed ties with the Catholic and Apostolic Church willingly heed the advice of their enemy: the Lutherans, the Protestants who have divided into many communities, and sectarians who have come out of the midst of the Lutherans - Baptists, Evangelicals, Adventists. They all understand and interpret Holy Scripture in their own way. And each community and sect considers its own understanding to be the only correct one.

But the truth is one, just as the body of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church is one and its Head is one, our Lord and God Jesus Christ.

Particularly harmful and intolerable is the division of Churches in the matter of the veneration of the Most Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary.

In this respect, the Christian world is especially sharply divided. With fear and trembling, with deep reverence, we, Orthodox Christians and Roman Catholics regard the grace-filled and amazing words of the Archangel Gabriel addressed to the Blessed Virgin Mary: “Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you ...” (Lk. 1:28). "Blessed are You among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb...".

Blessed among all women, this is how the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared before the incorporeal powers of heaven.

And for the Lutherans and all Protestants and sectarians - she is only a pious woman, one of countless many, who does not deserve any exaltation above them.

The Archangel said to the Blessed Virgin Mary: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35).

But the Lutherans and the sectarians descended from them do not care at all. They do not think about the fact that the Holy Spirit has never so fully indwelled in any of the saints as in the Most Holy Virgin, Who brought forth with her most pure body the greatest mystery of the incarnation of the Eternal Son of God.

For sectarians and Protestants she is only a pious woman and nothing more.

Lutherans, Protestants and sectarians are hopeless for the veneration of the Most Holy Theotokos, they are not convinced by the words of the Archangel, they are not rebuked by the words of the Most Holy Virgin herself in Her song, which she sang before her relative Elizabeth: "Henceforth all generations will call me blessed” (Lk. 1:48), and they do not want to be among all the families that bless the Blessed Virgin, but, of course, God knows with what childlike faith Orthodox and Catholics accept them. And He strengthens in them the veneration of the Blessed Virgin in an unusual way.

He shows the Orthodox and Catholic world many miraculous icons of the Blessed Virgin Mary and works countless miracles with them.

Our Orthodox Church alone has 99 miraculous icons of the Mother of God, the appearance of which was accompanied by miracles.

It would take a long time to tell you about these miracles. You know about many of them, as, for example, about those who were at the appearance of the Tikhvin, Kostroma, Iver, Novgorod icons. They probably also read about more ancient miracles that took place during the long years of iconoclasm in Byzantium and then still powerfully strengthened the Orthodox faith.

I know how deeply you revere the wonderful Kazan icon, how much you love the beautiful troparion written in honor of it: “O fervent Protectress, Mother of the Lord Most High...”.

I know how your faith is strengthened by many miracles from this icon.

Always remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ: "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3).

Small children always cling to their mother and hold on to her. And you, the spiritual children of your Heavenly Mother, place your hopes on her in all your sorrows and difficulties, and remember that she prays tirelessly for the Christian race.

Let us give her with one mouth and one heart our pure childlike praise. Amen. 
(At this point the troparion to the Kazan icon was chanted.)

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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