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July 7, 2024

Homily One for the Second Sunday of Matthew (St. John of Kronstadt)

Homily for the Second Sunday of Matthew 
(2nd Sunday of Pentecost)

By St. John of Kronstadt

And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him (Matthew 4:18–20).

The Gospel read just now, my beloved brethren in Christ, speaks about the calling by Jesus Christ to the apostolic rank of two brothers Peter and Andrew, and two other brothers, James and John, later called by Jesus Christ the Sons of Thunder, for their unquestioning following of the Savior; and about how the Lord walked throughout the entire country of Galilee preaching about the Kingdom of Heaven, "healing every disease and every infirmity among the people" (Matthew 4:23).

My brethren, the Lord calls to the apostleship two like-minded brothers of the same blood, to depict the character of His future followers: Christians, who should all be brothers in Christ in the spirit of mutual love - "you are all brothers" (Matthew 23:8), says Jesus Christ to His followers. He calls upon simple and unlearned people to the lofty and greatest feat of apostleship, firstly, for their simplicity and credulity, for their humble, low minded and gentle disposition, for their hard work and patience, and secondly, in order to show that the planting of faith and the Church of Christ in the world was not a matter of human wisdom and strength, but the work of God, and so that "no flesh should boast before God" (1 Cor. 1:29), so that no man can boast that the Christian faith is indebted to his own wisdom, patience and labors. God Himself performed the greatest miracle on them: He made them wise from ignorant; from timid and fearful to courageous and undaunted, from carnal to spiritual, from the earthly to the heavenly, from vessels of sin to vessels of righteousness and temples of the Holy Spirit.

Likewise, the Lord can transform us from sinners into righteous people if we have living faith in the Lord and firmly decide to love righteousness and hate lawlessness. Thus, the Lord can make a drunkard or a glutton abstinent, a money-lover merciful and God-loving, a depraved person chaste, and in general can deliver us easily and quickly from our sinful habits and passions, if only we ourselves, like the fishermen now mentioned in the Gospel, have faith in the Lord and a firm, unchanging determination not to follow one’s lawless will, but to follow the wise, holy and saving commandments of God. There are many examples of this in the lives of saints. These are: the example of the prudent thief who repented on the cross and inherited paradise, Mary of Egypt, Peter the Publican and many other examples. Thus, the Lord called ordinary people to the apostolic feat, and not the wise and reasonable of this age. The Holy Apostle Paul says: "God has chosen the foolish things of the world," that is, simple and unlearned people, "to confound the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world, to confound the strong; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence; so that it may be as it is written: 'He who boasts, let him boast in the Lord'" (1 Cor. 1:27-29, 31). The same Apostle cites in his Epistle to the Corinthians the words of the Lord from the Prophet Isaiah about the high-minded and erroneous wisdom of the earthly sages: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and reject the understanding of the prudent" (Is. 29:14). "Where is the sage? Where is the scribe? Where is the questioner of this age? Did not God turn the wisdom of this world into foolishness" (Is. 33:18, 1 Cor. 1:19–20). In fact, the wise men of this age often despise the holy, immaculate faith of Christ and its guardian, the Holy Church of Christ. What could one expect from them for the faith and the Church? If they do not humble their obstinate mind and do not subjugate it to Christ, they can only destroy faith, and not build and spread it. It is extremely surprising that learned people, the so-called intelligent people today, are infected with unbelief, which amounts to madness, insanity, just as Scripture says that "the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God" (1 Cor. 3:19); their unbelief comes from their pride, learned ignorance, which knows much that is empty and does not know what is most necessary. "God opposes the proud" (James 4:6).

It is also surprising that simple, uneducated people, but with common sense and a kind, simple heart, turn out to be much smarter than the wise men of this world and pleasing to God, because in the simplicity of their hearts, without philosophizing deceitfully, they believe in the faith of God, in the word of God, accepting with a kind and simple heart, trying to fulfill it according to their strength, with the help of grace. Look, brethren, I will tell you in the words of the Apostle, you who have come to this temple: not many of you are wise in the flesh (i.e. learned), not many strong (i.e. mighty of the world, noble and rich), not many noble; and the majority are all simple, uneducated, semi-literate or only literate. Therefore, my brethren, like the fishermen now mentioned in the Gospel, believe with all your heart in the Lord and in His Gospel, accept with all your heart the word of eternal life, justify with your whole life that you are Christians, Christ’s disciples and followers; do not abandon church gatherings and worship services; read, listen to the word of God more often, gain wisdom and be saved. The Gospel of Christ is now accessible to everyone and always, especially to the literate, because it has been translated into the Russian dialect and the book of the Gospel is sold at the cheapest price. God! Enlighten the minds of all with the light of reason of Your holy Gospel, teach us to do Your will, save us and bring us into Your Heavenly Kingdom. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.
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