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Metropolitan Hilarion: The Holy Gospel is the…

Metropolitan Hilarion: The Holy Gospel is the source of life for us today

On October 10th, 2021, on the 16th week after the Pentecost, on the commemoration day of the Hieromartyr Peter, Metropolitan Krutitsky (1937), Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the Moscow church in honor of the icon of the Mother of God "Joy to All who Sorrow" on Bolshaya Ordynka.

The Archpastor was joined by the Dean of the parishes of Scotland and Northern Ireland of the Sourozh Diocese of the Moscow Patriarchate, Priest Georgy Zavershinsky and the clergy of the church.

The day before, Metropolitan Hilarion celebrated an all-night vigil at the same church.

During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, petitions were offered up for deliverance of the coronavirus infection.

After the Litany, Metropolitan Hilarion lifted up a prayer recited at the time of the spread of baneful pestilence.

At the end of the Divine Liturgy, the Archpastor addressed the congregation with a sermon:

“In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!

In today's reading fr om the Gospel of Luke, we heard the story of how the Lord Jesus Christ, passing along the shore of the Lake of Galilee, saw fishing boats, got into one of them, sailed fr om the shore and taught the people who were standing on the shore. Christ did this quite often - so that people could hear well what He says.

When He finished teaching the people, He said to Peter: “Set sail to the depths and cast your nets for fishing” (Luke 5.4). To which Peter replied: “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net. ”(Luke 5. 5). And having done this, they caught such a huge amount of fish that the net began to break, and they had to call for help from other fishermen who were nearby, in order to pull all the fish out of the water and place the catch in a boat.

Then Peter realized that it was no ordinary person in front of him, because Peter knew the price of a fish, he knew how much it could be caught and at what time. This had never happened before in his life. Therefore, he bowed and said: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” (Luke 5. 8). He was so overwhelmed with fear that he was afraid to be near Christ. But the Lord told him: “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men. ”(Luke 5.10).

Reading this story from the Gospel of Luke, as well as from other Gospels, about how the Lord recruited disciples for Himself, walking along the shore of the Lake of Galilee, we can ask ourselves: why did Christ seek His disciples there? If He wanted educated people, scientists who would be able to remember and write down His words, next to Him, He had to look for His disciples elsewhere, for example, in Jerusalem, wh ere there were rabbinical schools, wh ere scholars of the Scriptures and their disciples lived. Maybe it was there that it was necessary to look for apostles who would accurately write down everything that He said?

But the Lord was pleased to seek, according to the word of the Apostle Paul, not the wise of the world, not those who considered themselves wise and reasonable, but to call for the ministry simple fishermen - illiterate, unskilled in Holy Scripture, but whose hearts were open to the Lord.

It is amazing that learned people, connoisseurs of Holy Scripture, of whom many are mentioned in the Gospels, listened to the sermon of the Lord Jesus Christ, saw His miracles, but at the same time, instead of believing in Him, they were filled with hatred and malice towards Him. It was they who were at the head of the conspiracy, because of which Jesus was first presented to the court of the Jerusalem Sanhedrin, and then to the Roman prefect.

And ordinary people who could neither read nor write, and could only hear what they heard, memorize and write it down not on paper but in the hearts of people, were called by the Lord to continue His work after the death and resurrection of Christ ...

But this does not mean at all that the Church was created only for illiterate people. In the Church there is a place for every person, including people who are educated, well-read, versed in the Holy Scriptures. If this were not so, the Lord would not have called Saul in the first generation of His disciples – that Saul who later became Paul and theologically substantiated everything that the other apostles saw with their own eyes. Perhaps, they did not have enough intelligence to comprehend all this and convey it to people the way the Apostle Paul did.

And in subsequent centuries, God called to the service of the Church both ordinary people, and educated people, and those who, without philosophizing slyly, defended His holy faith and gave their lives for Christ and the Gospel, and those who, being skillful in the Holy Scriptures , and in Hellenic philosophy, and in other human sciences, placed all their knowledge at the feet of Christ. These were people who, when heresy appeared, found the strength and ability to identify and refute this false teaching. These were people who composed their own works, interpreted the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, set forth dogmatic truths in a language understandable to their contemporaries, and formed the theological teaching of the Church following the apostle Paul. Such people were needed, and the Lord called and calls such people to His ministry. 

But the first apostles were illiterate people. First of all, the Lord expected them to listen to Him attentively, to be with Him while He was on earth, to remember everything that He said and to pass it on to the next generations. 

The Gospels, which are for us the main source of knowledge about the life and teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ, were compiled by the apostles themselves or their closest disciples. These Gospels are precious to us, for in them we find testimonies from people who saw the Lord Jesus Christ with their own eyes. Maybe they didn't understand much of what He was saying. We know from the Gospels that when the Lord spoke His teachings and parables, the disciples often did not understand what He meant, what He was talking about. Christ said one thing, and His disciples heard another and repeatedly asked Him to clarify what He had just said. 

But, nevertheless, the word of Christ was gradually deposited in the souls, hearts and minds of the first disciples. And after His death and resurrection, they expounded what they had seen and heard from Him. And thanks to them, we now have the Holy Gospels, from which we learn about the life and teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Holy Gospel is still the source of life for us today . We read it not just as a historical book and a testimony about the life of Jesus Christ, but also as a guide to our own life, for the Lord in this book through His disciples left the necessary instructions on our way to the Kingdom of Heaven. If we want to reach the Kingdom of Heaven, if we want to reach the end of the path that the Savior showed us , we are called to read the Gospel every day, delve into the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, listen to them, peer into His Divine face, and open our hearts to meet Him - our Teacher and Guide to the Kingdom of Heaven. Amen.   

Happy Feast to all of you! Take care of yourself, your loved ones and may the Lord keep you all. "

After the Liturgy, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk met with members of the AGIOS youth movement of the All Saints Parish of Minsk.at the parish house of the church in honor of the icon of the Mother of God "Joy to All who Sorrow". Young people came to Moscow to participate in the celebrations in honor of St. Sergius of Radonezh, which took place at the Holy Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius on October 7-8.

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