Feast of the Apostle and Evangelist Luke

Archbishop Seraphim : Homily
“You are the Light of the World”
Feast of the Apostle and Evangelist Luke
18 October, 2008
Colossians 4:5-9, 14, 18 ; Luke 10:16-21

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

Today, we are celebrating the feast of the Apostle and Evangelist Luke. It is very important for us to remember how our Saviour’s words in the Gospel according to Luke are directing us to follow Him. If we reject Him, then we are rejecting the One who sent Him. We have to be very careful. Although it is not specified, the One who sent our Saviour is our Heavenly Father.

When we are following Christ, we are not following a philosophical principle. We are following God, who is Love, who created us all. If we behave as do most western-minded people, we can easily compartmentalise our lives in such a way that the Lord can very well take a back seat in our lives. If we are serious Orthodox Christians, we have only one path, and that is the path of following and imitating Jesus Christ. We follow Him and we imitate Him because He loves us, and in response, we love Him. For the Orthodox Christian, truly and fundamentally, there is nothing more than this. The Orthodox Christian way is very simple. Our Lord says to you and to me and to everyone, as He says to the Apostle Peter : “'Do you love Me?'” Our response must always be the response of the apostle : “'Yes, Lord; You know that I love You'” (John 21:15). As a result of this response, we live every moment of every day of our lives in imitation of that love.

For the Orthodox Christian, there can be no other way than Him who is the Way. That Way is Jesus Christ, and there is none other. We imitate Him. We follow Him. We love Him. We live in Him. There is no other way – no simplifications, no side-steps, no self-justifications, no excuses. There is only one way in Him who is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6). Our lives must, therefore, express this love and this way of single-mindedness : lives that are wholly integrated, and not broken up ; lives that have only one direction in Christ ; lives that are imitating Him, serving other people just as He serves us to this day. We imitate Him because we love Him.

We will suffer, too, as He suffered. If we read the first chapter of the Gospel according to Saint John, we understand that the darkness is trying to extinguish, to overcome the Light. The darkness does not like the Light. However, the Light is not overcomeable. This Light that enlightens the whole universe is not overcomeable. The Light of Jesus Christ must, and will shine, and it will overcome the darkness. In fact, the Light has overcome the darkness, but the darkness does not want to admit it. We live in that Light. Our lives must shine from within with that same Light. Our lives as Orthodox Christians have to show light, life, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, goodness, and other virtues like these, just as the Apostle Paul said (see Galatians 5:22, 23). Our lives have to be full of these characteristics because all these characteristics are part of the promise of the love of Jesus Christ living and acting in us. If our lives do not have these characteristics or if they are lacking somehow, we can tell, ourselves, that we have turned our eyes away from the Lord, and have become distracted. Just as the Apostle Peter when he was standing on the water paid attention to the wind and the waves instead of to Christ, we sink just as he sank. Then it is important for us to say with the apostle : “'Lord, save me'” (Matthew 14:30). We have to take His hand, and allow Him to pull us up again. His hand is always there waiting for you and for me to take hold of it. We cannot live without holding on to His hand.

Today, by God’s mercy, we are ordaining a priest. It is going to be his responsibility during the whole course of his life to remember that he is re-presenting Christ. He does not have a flock of his own ; neither does the bishop. None of us has our own flock. There is truly only one Shepherd, and that is Jesus Christ. There is only one flock, and it is His. We have the responsibility to help Him to feed His flock. No-one here today belongs to any one priest or bishop. You all belong to Christ. The bishop and the priest are His servants to help you be fed so that you can live well, and keep on the right path. This is the responsibility of this priest-to-be. He is to be an example of how a Christian should live.

I have heard many times in my life (ever since I was ordained to the Holy Priesthood), people saying what I am saying now. A parishioner will say to the priest (to excuse himself from his responsibilities) : “Well, you have to say those things because that is what we pay you for”. Sometimes, just because he is a so-called professional, a priest can sometimes not be completely credible because of what he says. Nevertheless, he has to be credible for how he lives what he says. We all know that talk is cheap, especially nowadays. However, if the priest can live according to the way and example of Christ, and present the love, the life, and the joy of Christ, then he is able, truly, to feed the flock. Because of his life, the flock will be able to trust that the food he is presenting to them is not of his own creation (we are good at creating our own concoctions), but only, instead, the true food of Jesus Christ and His love. As I said, we can make our own concoctions because priests and bishops, too, can get distracted. It is a hard business to be a bishop or a priest or a deacon, because the more he is called to serve the flock, the harder the Tempter is working to get rid of him so that the sheep can be scattered.

Therefore, it is important for you, the sheep, to pray for this priest. He is not outside the flock ; he is also a sheep. The bishop is also a sheep. None of us is outside the sheepfold. We are all part of the same flock. We just have different responsibilities within Christ’s flock. All you sheep, here, need to be praying for this leading sheep whom the Lord is placing at the head of the flock in order to make sure that the flock is always directed towards Christ. You see what a big responsibility it is. He has the responsibility to present Christ and to show Christ by his life, so that everyone will be encouraged to follow in the same sort of foot-steps towards the one Saviour, Jesus Christ. There is nothing else for any of us, except Jesus Christ.

As I said before, we will all suffer because the darkness wants to extinguish the Light. However, if we always keep our hearts, souls, minds, and all our being focussed on our Saviour, He will always be there protecting us because He is our Life. He is our Protector. He is our Guardian. He will never fail us. His love alone is completely constant and completely dependable. He, alone, will bring us into His heavenly Kingdom by His love, and through the prayers, protection, and support of His most pure Mother. Let us ask her to protect Father n as he is about to be ordained, and to protect us all by her prayers, so that in the whole of our lives we may glorify our Saviour, as she does, together with the unoriginate Father, and the all-holy, good, and life-giving Spirit, now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages.