April 30, 2024

Homily on Holy Tuesday: About the Need to be Watchful (Archimandrite Kirill Pavlov)

Homily on Holy Tuesday

About the Need to be Watchful

By Archimandrite Kirill (Pavlov)

(Delivered in 1962)
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!

Beloved brothers and sisters, approaching the days of His suffering, the Lord was especially close and frank with His disciples. "I no longer call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I called you friends, because I told you everything that I heard from My Father" (John 15:15), the Savior said to the Apostles. Now He was no longer covertly, but with particular clarity, announcing to them that He needed to suffer in order to thus prepare them for His suffering: "You know that in two days there will be Passover, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified" (Matthew 26:2). Seeing the grief that gripped the Apostles, He consoled the disciples with the promise that He will not leave them.

But at the same time, the Lord does not hide from them the fact that they, and all Christians in general, face the same fate as Him, their Divine Teacher: "Remember the word that I said to you: a servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you too. If they have kept my word, they will also keep yours. If the world hates you, know that it hated Me first. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you" (John 15:20, 18 and 19).

And again, seeing them sorrowful, the Lord consoled them: "In the world you will have sorrow; but take heart: I have overcome the world. And I will pray to the Father, and He will give you another Comforter, that He may be with you forever, and I myself will be with you until the end of the age. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you... Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (cf. John 16:33; 14, 16; cf. Matthew 28:20; John 14:27).

The Lord asked His disciples to abide in Him and fulfill His commandments, for without Him they cannot do anything: "Abide in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it is in the vine, so neither can you unless you are in Me. If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. I am going to prepare a place for you. And... I will come again" (John 15:4, 7; 14, 2, 3).

The Lord consoles them, revealing that sorrow will be followed by joy, that they will have a reward in the Future Kingdom. And since His disciples were interested in the question of what the Lord’s Coming to earth would be like, the Savior proclaimed to them that Divine truth that at the end of the world He would come with great glory to judge the living and the dead and would grant all those who believed in Him sincerely and with repentance to the end of their lives His Kingdom, and those who did not believe or rejected Him, who remained without repentance until the end of their lives, will be condemned to eternal torment.

"When it will be?" (Matthew 24:3) - the disciples asked. But the Lord answered them that "no one knows about that day and hour, not even the angels of heaven, but only My Father alone" (Matthew 24:36). Thus, the Holy Scriptures are kept in deep secrecy and do not definitely reveal to us the time of the Second Coming so that we always keep ourselves pure and blameless and are ready to meet the Lord at all times.

That is why the Lord warns the disciples: "Watch therefore, because you do not know at what hour your Lord will come. But as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be in the days of the Son of Man: they ate, they drank, they married, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Watch therefore: for you know not what hour your Lord will come" (Matthew 24:42; cf. Luke 17:26 and 27, 30; Matthew 25:13).

In our time, more than ever, we need to remember this warning, for now there are especially many who doze and sleep. Spiritual sleep is not a bodily sleep that strengthens the body, but on the contrary, it is an unhealthy sleep, a painful hibernation in which people chase vanity and think that they are living a real life, forgetting about the soul, about God and about the Future Eternal Life. In order to more deeply impress upon us the sense of danger, the need to be watchful, and to awaken our conscience from spiritual slumber, the Lord told the parable of the ten virgins, which we heard in today’s Gospel reading.

"Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins," says the Savior, "who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming" (Matthew 25:1-13).

This parable teaches us that, having accepted faith, we accompany it with good deeds, which alone can support our spiritual life. The foolish virgins who came out to meet the Bridegroom did not prepare the oil of good deeds for their lamps. The wise, along with lamps, stocked up with good deeds in order to meet the Bridegroom with dignity. Likewise, our entire life should be a preparation for a meeting with the Lord, and for this, throughout it, we must constantly take care of acquiring and preserving living faith and ardent love for God, the Source of love, and for our neighbors.

The worries of this age overshadow the most essential concern and goal of our life - the illumination of the soul with the light of Christ, its salvation and preparation for the Eternal Kingdom. Let us be sober in order to enter the Heavenly palace with the wise virgins and be rewarded with eternal blessings from the Lord. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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