October 2, 2023

Homily Two for the Second Sunday of Luke (St. Luke of Simferopol)

 Homily for the Second Sunday of Luke

Respond to Evil With Love

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on October 15, 1944)
“As you wish that men would do to you, do so to them” (Luke 6:31). What amazingly simple words! They are so natural that when a person hears them for the first time, he even becomes ashamed. God, how come I didn’t think about this myself before! The entire teaching of Christ is extremely simple, like everything that is great. It was addressed to people with simple hearts, it was perceived by the simple-minded Galilean fishermen, who became lights of the whole world.

All His teaching seems to be self-explanatory, and yet, how far our lives are from fulfilling the great commandments of Christ! How rarely do we treat people the way we would like to be treated. We expect respect from people, but we humiliate them ourselves. We want to be helped when we are in need, but we ourselves forget about helping our neighbors when we are prosperous.

Why is that? What prevents us from behaving according to the commandments? Our selfishness, because we love only ourselves, we care about ourselves, but we often offend and insult the people around us.

Further the Lord says: “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High” (Luke 6:32-35).

The greatest, extremely difficult requirement the Lord makes is to love your enemies. Is it easy? Those who have a pure heart, in whom the Holy Spirit lives, and who are imbued with the spirit of love and humility can love haters and enemies. With kindness and love, like hot coals, they burned the hearts of their enemies, and they, bowing their heads, turned from enemies into friends.

The Lord demands that we do not expect anything for the good we have done, promises a great reward in eternity and says that we will be sons of the Most High. “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36), and He is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish, He sends rain to everyone and commands the sun to shine throughout the world - both the good and the wicked.

The root of mercy is pity and compassion. These are the basic properties of love, for you cannot love and not have compassion. A compassionate person cannot help but do good to those who need it, do it without any expectation of gratitude. Our mercy and fulfillment of the commandments of Christ flow from pure love — we lend to those from whom we do not hope to receive back. The one who does this will receive the greatest reward from God - he will be called the son of the Most High and at the Last Judgment he will be justified as a righteous person who does deeds of love. And those who did not have works of mercy will be called sons of the devil and will suffer with him forever.

From the Apostle Paul we know that “love is the fulfillment of the law” (Rom. 13:10). What should we do to acquire it? Which way to go? The Lord indicates that one must go through the narrow gates, the rocky and thorny path, without fear of sorrows, for the sufferer is freed from evil, becomes quiet and meek, full of love. Through tireless prayer and fasting one must enter into communion with God. Love was acquired by those who, like Saint Seraphim of Sarov, prayed day and night and fasted strictly. The Lord cleanses their hearts from all impurity, for the Holy Spirit, the spirit of love, can only dwell in a pure and humble heart.

We must pray for many things, repenting of our countless sins. But the unceasing and fundamental prayer should be that the Lord cleanse the heart from malice, that He would bestow the great Christian virtues - meekness and humility. Never forget the most important prayer - about love. Pray as God puts it on your heart, for example: “Lord, give me holy love, teach me to love all people, even the rude, and impudent, and foolsih, and wicked, just as You, Lord, love all of us, sinners and damned." Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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