November 21, 2023

Homily One on the Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos (St. Luke of Simferopol)

Homily on the Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos

Keep Yourselves Undefiled From the World

By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered in 1956)

The Holy Apostle James said: "Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world" (James 1:27). How and with what does the world defile us? There is a lot of all kinds of infection in the air that surrounds us; along with it, we often inhale bacteria from infectious diseases and get sick. But what's worse is that it contains a lot of moral miasma that infects our hearts and minds. We are defiled by the miasma of uncleanness and depravity, which we often hear about, sometimes even witnessing this base and vile sin. People, especially young people, deeply inhale the stench of moral impurity when reading sensual novels, looking at disgusting pictures, listening to bad songs.

We are defiled by envy of those who have reached a high position and live in wealth and luxury, and we ourselves strive with all our might to acquire as much money as possible and to possess insignificant and fleeting earthly blessings. And in this pursuit we get used to not stopping in the face of any untruth, of which there is so much in the world. And despicable lies increasingly deprive us of moral dignity. From time immemorial, wars have been fought between peoples and spread a bloody spiritual infection between people: they made their hearts rude and cruel, incapable of love. It is precisely to love, universal love, that the gospel of Christ calls us.

But no matter how severe, no matter how contagious, the filth of the world is, all of them are far surpassed by the heaviest and most destructive filth - ever-increasing godlessness, disregard and even contempt of the terrible sacrifice made by our Lord and the Son of God Jesus Christ on the Cross of Golgotha for the salvation of the world. It not only corrupts us, but also leads to eternal destruction.

How can we keep ourselves undefiled from the world? If a fireman in work clothes comes towards us, we hasten to move away from him so as not to get dirty with soot. So we must avoid all moral filth. If we find ourselves among bad and drunken people, and even constantly live among them, then we will inevitably become infected with their filth and become like them. Blessed are the people who are far from a corrupt environment, living in community with the pious and good, for they will be safe and no abomination will touch them.

Raising children in piety, keeping them from the most terrible defilement should be the main task of parents. Saints Joachim and Anna, the parents of the Most Holy Theotokos, understood this well. They chose for the Light of their eyes, their three-year-old Baby, the most reliable protection from the world: dedicating Her to God. It is usually difficult for a mother to part with her only child. But Joachim and Anna brought their little Daughter 120 kilometers from Nazareth to Jerusalem to leave Her at the center of piety for the entire people of Israel, in the holy temple, and without Her they returned to Nazareth.

God made this sacrifice easier for them by inspiring the high priest Zechariah to bring the Most Pure Little One not only inside the temple, where only priests entered, but even behind the second curtain - into the Holy of Holies, where only the high priest could enter once a year. This event was so extraordinary that it plunged even the Angels of God, who accompanied the high priest and the Child led by him, into amazement, and the vigilant church choir sings: “The angels, beholding the entry of the most pure one, were amazed to see the Virgin enter into the Holy of holies.”

How to explain this event? In the second Jerusalem temple, built after the Babylonian captivity of the Jews, there was no longer the Ark of the Covenant, which the prophet Jeremiah hid in an unknown place (see 2 Mac. 2:4–7), but, nevertheless, the third, inner part of the temple is the Holy of Holies, remained a great shrine for the Jews, for it was a place of the special presence of God. But was not She worthy to enter this holy place, Who is called the Holy Church, the Most-Pure Temple of the Savior, the Heavenly Dwelling? The high priest not only introduced the future Mother of God into the Holy of Holies, but also gave Her permission to come here daily to pray. Until she was fifteen years old, She lived in one of the rooms attached to the outer walls of the temple. She breathed not only the material incense of the altar of incense, but also the incense pleasing to God of the prayers of the priests and all the people.

Thus, immeasurably more reliable than all the barriers available to people, the Most Pure Maiden Mary was protected by the Holy Spirit from all the defilements and temptations of the world. This is how She prepared for the greatest mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God. Bring your children to the temples of God so that they can breathe its holy air, saturated not only with the smoke of incense, but also with the mysterious grace of the great Mysteries performed in it and the prayers of many people.

Let us glorify in our hearts God, who has given the world such a Holy Vessel of unsullied purity, and let us be deeply imbued with the covenant of the Apostle James to us, the weak and infirm, to keep ourselves undefiled from the world. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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