Memory of Saint Theodore the Recruit

Archbishop Seraphim : Homily
The Lord desires not the Death of the Sinner
(Memory of Saint Theodore the Recruit)
1st Saturday in Great Lent
15 March, 2008
Hebrews 1:1-12 ; Mark 2:23-3:5

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Today we are celebrating the memory of Saint Theodore the Recruit, and the miracle associated with him when he saved the city from being polluted by people who were trying to undermine Christians in a clandestine way. It is important for us to remember in a context like this (and also in the context of the first Saturday of Great Lent), how the Lord is with us regardless of the machinations of human beings ; how the Lord cares for us ; how the Lord is near us ; how the Lord is supporting us no matter what anyone else does ; how the Lord is caring for us no matter what anyone else says ; how the Lord is really, truly with us.

Who is this Lord ? It has to be remembered again what is repeated in the readings today : that it is He, the Lord, God the Word, who spoke everything into being, in perfect harmony with the Father and the Holy Spirit. This is the Son of God. This is not merely some creature. He is the expression of God’s love – the “enfleshment” of God’s love, we have to say. When He was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, He did take on flesh. Who is He, except God ? Who is God, except Love ? What does all creation spring from, except from God’s love ? It is important for us always to remember this, and not just remember it with the head, but to remember it with the heart – to be mindful with the heart Who is this Lord that we are serving. What does everything in our lives mean ? What is the purpose of our life ? Is it for some other purpose that I am doing whatever I am doing ? No, it is not for any other purpose except to glorify the Lord, and to give thanks to Him for His love, for His presence with us, for His continuing support, despite all the failures of human beings.

I was able to watch last week a video that was fairly recently distributed in Russia about Saint Tikhon, the Patriarch of Moscow, and it is associated with a man (whose name I cannot remember) who was a well-known inquisitor of Saint Tikhon. It was he who was the chief “punisher”, one could say, of Saint Tikhon. He was the one who interrogated him in unpleasant ways day after day after day, year after year, until Saint Tikhon finally died. He even tried to interrogate him while he was in the hospital close to death. It was a very unpleasant situation, but the irony of this situation is that the video begins and ends with the visit of Patriarch Aleksy I to this man in the hospital as he is dying. Why ? Because this man, who had been part of the real torture of Saint Tikhon, and really part of the cause of his death, at the end of his life came to repent (through the prayers of Saint Tikhon, obviously). He came to repent through the mercy and love of God. This man, at the end of his life, began to see something more about what is the Truth – and not just what is the truth, but Who is the Truth.

As we see, all sorts of people are capable of repenting. The love of the Lord manifests itself in all sorts of ways. The love of the Lord manifests itself to you and to me on a daily basis. It is important for us to give thanks for His perpetual presence with us, to give thanks to Him for His mercy towards us, for His kindness towards us despite our failures, despite our weaknesses. He is still always there, supporting us, guiding us, healing us, encouraging us, correcting us, and giving us life.

In giving thanks to our Saviour, let us ask Him to enable us in every part of our life more and more to glorify Him, together with the unoriginate Father, and the all-holy, good, and life-giving Spirit, now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages.