Metropolitan Hilarion: The Lord has commanded us to love every human being
On October 31st, 2021, on the 19th week after the Pentecost 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 clergy of the 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 of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!
This Sunday coincided with the memory day of St. Luke the Apostle and Evangelist.
We hear readings from the Gospel of Luke in the church throughout the autumn and up to the beginning of the spring Lenten cycle.
Today we have heard the parable of the Lord Jesus Christ about the sower and the seed. It tells the story of seeds thrown into various conditions for germination: on the road, on stony ground, in thorns and on good soil. If a seed falls on good ground, it grows many times and bears fruit. However, if it falls on stony ground or in thorns, then either the birds eat it up, or the sun dries it up, or the thorns grow and choke it, and it cannot grow.
When the disciples heard this parable, they asked Jesus what it meant. And the Lord Jesus Christ explained that the seed that the soil takes in is the Word of God, and the soil is every person to whom the Word is given. Each person perceives the Word of God differently. There are people who listen to the Word of God, respond to it, but then the devil comes and steals from their hearts what they have heard. And then there are those who listen to the Word of God and, it would seem, readily respond to it, but then the cares of this world negate all that they have heard. Then there are also those who listen to the Word, keep it in a good and pure heart, respond to it, and bear multiple fruit.
It is no coincidence that the Lord concludes His parable with the words: "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" (Luke 8: 15). Many people listen to the Word of God but do not hear, do not see what He does, do not see His signs and wonders. Their eyes remain closed and their hearts do not respond to God's call.
Each person is differently disposed and open about what he hears from God.
Some do not want to hear the voice of God at all, and say that there is no God or that He exists, but somewhere far away, and they will arrange life according to their desire. And when God speaks to them through some circumstances of their life, or through other people, or through the Holy Scriptures, they hear it but do not listen, they see it but do not understand the Word of God.
Others who consider themselves believers, sometimes read the Holy Scriptures, think that they are practicing Orthodox people, but at the same time all their spiritual life is superficial. They don't study the Holy Scriptures deeply. And most importantly, they do not compare their lives with the Holy Scriptures. Very often such people live sinfully or idly, but at the same time from time to time they are present at church services, even sometimes participate in church Sacraments, but remain on the very surface, do not descend into the depths. Therefore, the Lord does not touch their hearts, and if He does, they do not feel it.
Then there are also those who also consider themselves believers, visit the church of God, sometimes participate in the Sacraments of the Church, read the Holy Scriptures, but still put the concerns of this world first. First of all, they think about their own well-being and success, and they perceive church life as part of being successful, because now it is customary for a successful person to attend services from time to time and donate money to the Church . We are grateful to such people, but what the Lord expects of them does not happen, because their hearts do not respond to the Word of God.
And then there are people whose hearts respond to the Divine call. These people are of different ages, positions and affluence – successful and not so successful, rich and poor, old and young, men and women. After all, everything depends not on the external circumstances in which a person lives, but on how much one is ready to open their heart to God, compare their life with the Gospel commandments, sacrifice themselves, their time, strength, finances and talents in order to help other people.
The Lord has given His commandments to each of us. These commandments relate, first of all, to how we live among people and how we treat each other. The Lord has commanded us to love each person not only with reciprocal love, but also with sacrificial love. He tells us: "Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you"(Mt 5.44). "For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?" (Mt 5: 46).
Perhaps the commandment to love your enemies is the most difficult one in the entire Gospel. After all, how can we love our enemies when they do us so much harm? How can we bless when we are cursed? How can we turn our right cheek when we are hit on the left? But the Lord calls us to actively follow what He teaches us. A person who is ready not only to hear the Word of God, but to also change their whole life afterwards - such person is the fertile land on which the seed of the Word of God sprouts abundantly.
We can cite many examples from the lives of saints, when they responded to the word of God, followed Christ, distributed their possessions to the poor, and devoted all their talents and abilities to the service of the Church. Such people are examples and guiding stars for us.
Let us pray to the Lord that we may not only hear the Word of God, but also follow it. So that the seed of His Word may fall into our hearts, fall on fertile ground, and bear fruit in our lives. Amen.
I congratulate you all on the today’s feast!
Take care of yourself, take care of your loved ones, and may the Lord protect you all."
DECR Communication Service