October 29, 2023

Homily for the Seventh Sunday of Luke (St. Luke of Simferopol)

On the Vanity of Human Glory

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on September 5, 1947 - 
Friday of the 13th week after Pentecost)

You have heard the Gospel reading about the resurrection by the Lord Jesus Christ of the daughter of Jairus, the leader of the synagogue. This is one of the most important miracles of Christ. The Lord performed this miracle in an amazingly simple way: He walked up to the dead girl, took her hand and said: “Child, arise!” (Luke 8:54) And she got up and sat down... Only the chosen apostles of Christ were witnesses to this miracle: Peter, James and John - and the parents of this girl. The Lord strictly told them, their parents: “See that you don’t tell anyone about what happened.”

Why did He forbid them speaking everywhere about His miracle and glorifying Him among people? He didn't need human glory. He acted throughout His earthly life according to the deepest dictates of His Divine heart, fulfilling what was destined for Him to fulfill from eternity. He was so deep in Himself, so completely absorbed in the greatness of His deeds, that He did not need the praise of people, human glory, at all.

He knew that Divine glory was inherent in Him, and by such a constant prohibition on disclosing miracles, He taught us that we should not chase after human praise, after human glory.

And us? How we love these praises, how we long for them! How we strain our ears to greedily seize words that contain approval for us, any expression of respect for us: we value nothing more than praise and glory. The Holy Apostle Paul says that human glory is insignificant, vain, and it is not what we should seek. We must be guided in everything and always by the fear of God and the deepest dictates of our conscience.

And if we are so inclined, if only for the fear of God, if only for the desire to become higher in the eyes of God motivates us to action, then we will not seek human praise, just as all the saints did not seek it. They not only did not seek praise, but avoided it with all their might, for they said that praise and glory are harmful to our souls; that if a person always hears praise for himself, sees expressions of respect for him, then he considers his goal achieved, and his zeal for the glory of God, for serving eternal truth, weakens. He becomes vain, fame-loving, and then gradually loses his dignity. The natural consequence of this is a decrease in praise from people: people feel and understand that he is a seeker of praise, and ultimately their respect for him decreases and is lost. And when the praise from people dries up, he becomes a self-praiser, and this is disgusting in the eyes of people: all self-exaltation is disgusting to people.

The saints considered all the praises of people, all human glory, dangerous and harmful to their hearts, and avoided them; they went into forests and deserts so as not to hear vain praise. But we are not like that, we do not remember the words spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ: “When you have done everything commanded you, say: 'We are worthless servants, because we did what was our duty'” (Luke 17:10). We are obliged to do good to our neighbors, we are obliged to follow the path of truth, and if we fulfill these duties, then we must feel like slaves worth nothing, only having fulfilled our duty.

We will not seek human praise, we will wait only for praise from God and we will receive it - we will receive it when we despise the vain glory and honor given by people, but we will be filled with the feeling with which the Apostle Paul was always imbued with, saying: “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13–14).

He forgot all the great things he had done; did not remember his achievements on the path of truth. He strove forward, forward, forward, endlessly forward. This striving forward, the indispensable desire to go further and further along the path of Christ, which he always experienced, was so great that he despised human glory, never sought it, always strived forward, forward and forward...

Likewise, we should not seek praise and honor from people, remembering that they are harmful and corrupt our hearts. We must remember and always say that we are worthless slaves if we fulfill what is commanded to us from the Lord. May the hearts of all of you be filled with these feelings. Do not seek praise, glory and honor, live modestly and quietly, considering yourself unworthy slaves.

In the event that the inevitable fall comes - for God allows the righteous to fall - we will fall like a man standing not on the top of a mountain, but in the plain: and the fall will be easy and harmless, like the fall of a child who falls like a ball and, like a ball, stands up easily. May God teach you to get up easily after every sinful fall!

: Translated by John Sanidopoulos. 

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