April 19, 2024

Homily One on the Passion for the Fourth Sunday of Great Lent: Our Sins Are a Reason for Tears

Homily One on the Passion for the Fourth Sunday of Great Lent

Our Sins Are a Reason for Tears

By Archimandrite Kirill (Pavlov)

(Delivered in 1961)
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!

"Daughters of Jerusalem! Weep not for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children" (Luke 23:28). These words were spoken by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the difficult moments of His suffering, the sorrowful story of which you have just heard from the Holy Gospel of Luke. Delivered into the hands of enemies through the treachery of one of His close disciples, the Divine Sufferer was dragged from court to court, from one trial to another, and He Who had not committed the slightest sin was greeted everywhere as a notorious villain worthy of the most cruel and shameful execution.

Neither in the courts of Annas and Caiaphas, nor in Pilate’s praetorium, nor in the house of Herod - nowhere does He see fair attention, greetings, or compassionate participation. His appearance is dishonorable, like the appearance of a terrible criminal imprisoned in chains. The menacing cries of an excited and angry crowd can be heard all around; there is no end to unjust and cruel grievances and no words for expression. They mock Him and laugh evilly at Him. They strike him in the face. They put a crown of thorns on Him, from which blood flows in streams from His head and falls in hot drops to the ground. Everyone, everyone abandoned Him, even those with whom He constantly shared His work and conversations. There is nowhere for Him to turn His gaze so that His sorrowful soul can find joy and consolation.

But now the verdict has been pronounced and sealed by the authorities. An innocent man is sentenced to death. Exhausted and worn out, He is led to the place of execution, where, amidst severe suffering, He must accept a painful death. Despite the visible exhaustion of His bodily strength, the Sufferer Himself carries the instrument of the upcoming execution, until, by a chance meeting, a certain Simon of Cyrene lightens this burden. The crowd accompanying the sad procession grows and increases, gathering hundreds and thousands of curious people.

Women walked in the same crowd, agitated by various feelings. The sad sight of the sorrowful spectacle, the presentation of the imminent terrible execution gave birth to a spark of compassion in sensitive and soft hearts, and the women of Jerusalem responded with sighs, tears and sobs to the grief of the Convict, led to the Place of Execution. Wet tears were supposed to soften at least a little the cruel situation that surrounded the Innocent Sufferer, and bring Him a small amount of consolation in His difficult situation. On His part, it seemed natural to expect words of gratitude for such sympathetic participation.

But our Lord and Savior did not suffer for Himself, and He did not seek joy and consolation for Himself. In His soul the sorrow of the whole world and our sufferings, our illnesses were combined, and our sins, past, present and future, weighed down His humane heart. Therefore, the Lord rejects inappropriate tears. On the contrary, He, with all the power of His immeasurable suffering, looks with sadness at those who, in a deceptive sense of their contentment, considered it possible for themselves to sympathize with the Almighty Redeemer of the world. Therefore, the Lord forbids them to weep for Him and points to objects of weeping and sobbing that are more worthy of attention. Turning to them, He inspires them to weep for themselves and for their children: "Daughters of Jerusalem! Weep not for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children" (Luke 23:28).

Dear brothers and sisters, of course, our hearts are moved and trembling when we remember the saving suffering of our Lord. This very memory fills our soul with sorrowful feelings and thoughts of compassion, ready to burst out of the soul in soft and tender hearts and pour out into mournful sighs and tears of tenderness.

And of course, the Lord, not without favor looks at tears when He sees that they serve as evidence of a good spiritual disposition, disposing the soul to a new, grace-filled life.

But still, when listening to the touching Gospel story, we should not limit our sorrowful feelings to just aimless and unnecessary compassion. The innocent Sufferer has already risen and sits at the right hand of God the Father, and His stripes brought about our salvation and healing. And if we sigh and regret anything, then, of course, not about the fate of the God-Man, who sacrificed Himself to infinite truth, but the Lord would have told us what He said to the women of Jerusalem: "Daughters of Jerusalem! Weep not for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children (Luke 23:28). Do not regret My sufferings for your good: I voluntarily bore and endured them; they revealed the triumph of God’s love for man and opened the doors of heaven to you. Have pity on yourself and your children; you must weep about your sins, which nail Me to the Cross.”

“But why should we regret and weep when looking at our children?” - so, it seems, we are asking (a similar question was supposed to be asked by the women of Jerusalem, when the Lord, in moments of His extreme humiliation, turned His compassionate gaze on them).

And we hear in response: “For the days are coming in which they will say: Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that have not given birth, and the breasts that have not nursed! then they will begin to say to the mountains: fall on us! and the hills: cover us! For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry? (Luke 23:29-31).

Are you grieving for Me? In vain! Look better at yourself and around you. A terrible and formidable force looms over you, and not now, but tomorrow it will break out over you or your sons with destructive blows. You will not be happy with your life, you will seek death to end suffering, and the mountains and hills from which you will ask for protection or an instant end to your difficult days will not cover you with their weight and will not save you from that terrible force that is so destructive and painful it will act on your soul and your well-being.

In the foresight of God, your days are numbered, and before you know it, the cloud of Heavenly wrath and the highest truth will come upon you. See how the green, flowering tree dies, what will happen to you, a dry and barren tree?"

Dear brothers and sisters, these words were directly spoken to the Jewish people, but they are valid in our times and for us Christians. Sinful wounds, bad inclinations and desires that violate the peace and quiet of the soul prevail over us, and we have not freed ourselves from them. The Lord brought us Redemption - He gave us a cure for an old illness, but it works only under the condition of our own activity. Let us ask ourselves, how strong is the life-giving principle of Christian love in us, according to which we must see our brother in each of our neighbors and therefore arrange his happiness as our own?

Let's look at ourselves: how is the thread of our life woven, where will it lead us, carelessly unraveling it? There we said a swearing, insulting word, there we slandered our neighbor; now - quarrel, tomorrow - anger, revenge and malice; now - heartless laughter at a weak person, tomorrow - a contemptuous refusal to a beggar who asked us for a piece of bread. All these arbitrary sins of ours crucify the Lord a second time, prompting us to weep and feel sorry for ourselves.

Therefore, the touching Gospel narrative calls us, first of all, to pay more and more attention to ourselves and to the destiny that we build for ourselves through our deeds, and not to be carried away to self-forgetfulness by sympathy for other people's affairs and situations.

We must be true Christians, we must kindle in ourselves the spirit of faith and love, learn to look at our sins, and not condemn our neighbor; and it is by this, if nothing else, that we will show our love for the Lord, and then the Lord, in response to our love for Him, will love us, and will introduce us into His Eternal Kingdom of goodness, truth, peace and love, and will make us heirs of endless blessedness. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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