Homily

of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America

Archieratical Divine Liturgy 3rd Sunday of Luke

Saint Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church
Weston, Massachusetts
October 6, 2019

 

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ,

Every Sunday is a kind of Pascha and a celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We may not sing Christos Anesti all year long; but on each new Sunday, we commemorate Christ’s victory over death. With every Gospel reading—every parable, every miracle, every commandment of our Savior—the new and better life is revealed, the hope of resurrection shines forth.

In today’s Gospel, this truth is proclaimed directly. Saint Luke tells us how Christ came to the gates of a city, just as a funeral procession was passing by. It was for a young man, the son of a widow.

The mother’s grief must have been overwhelming! Of all that we have in this world, nothing is more precious than the people we love. For any parent, the loss of a child is an unspeakable sorrow. How much more so, for this woman who lost her only son, and did not have even the comfort of her husband to bear this pain with her. One can hardly imagine the mourning and lamentation on that day.   

This is the scene that Christ encountered as He entered the city. Or rather, this is the moment that Christ chose to come to the city, in order to meet the procession at that sad moment. For in the ways of the Lord, there is no chance or accident: He weaves all things together according to His will and His wisdom.

Christ came there to show the compassion of God: not just for this one widow, but for all of us in our sorrows and woes. He came also to show the power of God that can undo even the worst human sufferings. And so to this mother, He speaks words that we hear in the Scriptures over and over again: Μὴ κλαῖε! Do not weep!

At that moment, and to that crowd, these words perhaps seemed thoughtless and insensitive. How can anyone tell this woman who has lost all hope and happiness not to weep? No one dare utter such a thing—unless He has the power of life, the power of God, at His disposal. “Do not weep!” Only the Creator Himself could speak such words to a mother in the depths of her sorrow. See how Christ reveals Himself to those who hear with ears of faith!

The procession stops. Christ lays His hand on the casket. He speaks to the dead: “Young man, I say to you, arise!” And immediately the boy sits up; he begins to speak. With joy the mother receives her son alive again; but the crowd is seized with great fear. For they realize how close they have come to the immeasurable power of God.

Μὴ κλαῖε! said the Lord: Do not weep!

These words are not only for that widow long ago. These words are for us today, and for all who follow Christ. There are people here whose hearts are heavy with sadness and loss: widows and widowers, parents who have lost children, and children who have lost parents. At some point in life, we all bear this great burden of grief.

The Lord knows our sorrows. He Himself wept when He stood by the tomb of Lazarus. He wept, not because His friend was dead—for He knew He would soon call him out of the tomb. Christ wept because of the pain of those around him. He wept for the whole human race in its misery and mortality. And then, as God, He called His friend back to life, and their weeping turned to joy.

The Lord who raised the widow’s son, the Lord who raised Lazarus, the Lord who conquered death by death: this is the Lord we worship at Pascha, on Sundays, and all the days of our life.  For Christ promised also to raise all mankind and everyone we love. We shall see them again, as He said to Martha of her brother. Christ’s Resurrection is the guarantee of our own resurrection. In this promise we rejoice, as we celebrate the Eucharist today and partake of “the medicine of immortality.” For we receive the Body and Blood of Him who says, “Behold, I make all things—and all people—new” (Revelation 21:5).

May the Lord seal this joy and this hope in our hearts today and forever!