Metropolitan Hilarion: our neighbor is that person who needs our mercy
On November 28th, 2021, on the 23rd 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 the following sermon:
“In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!
In today's Gospel reading, we heard a story about how a lawyer had approached the Lord Jesus Christ and asked Him: "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" (Luke 10:25). The Lord answered the lawyer with a question: "What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?" (Luke 10:26).
Then the lawyer named the two most important commandments of the Law of Moses: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself." (Luke 10:27). To which Christ responded by saying: "You have answered rightly; do this and you will live" (Luke 10:28).
However, the lawyer then asks Jesus another question: "Who is my neighbor?" (Luke 10:29), - expecting, of course, to receive a direct answer from the Lord. Indeed, the Hebrew people believed that their neighbors were only Jews, and everyone else was an enemy.
The Lord, instead of answering the question, tells the parable of the merciful Samaritan.
One man was walking from Jerusalem to Jericho. The road was dangerous; travelers often met robbers on it. The robbers also attacked this lonely traveler, beat him, leaving him barely alive. Both the priest and the Levite passed by the unfortunate man, and only the Samaritan, a man who did not belong to the same faith as the Jews, had compassion for him.
The Samaritan, seeing a beaten and wounded man lying unconscious, took pity on him, lifted him and put him on the animal with which he was walking, travelled to the inn, paid the innkeeper and said: “Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you” (Luke 10:35).
Having finished the parable, Jesus asks the lawyer: "Which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?" (Luke 10:36). The lawyer answers: "He who showed mercy on him" (Luke 10:37) to which Christ responds: "Go and do likewise" (Luke 10:37).
This parable, first of all, testifies to the fact that for God there are no differences between people with regard to their nationality, race and beliefs. All people are created by God in His image and likeness. And our neighbor is not just our fellow tribesman, not just the one who believes as we believe, or who thinks the same as we do, but the one who needs our mercy at that particular moment.
We must learn not to pass by suffering people who may be “beaten up” by life's hardships or illnesses, or sorrows, or any other circumstances. After all, the Lord Himself calls us not to pass by them, not to leave them unnoticed, but to pay attention to everyone who is next to us, who is in need, in sorrow, in illness. He calls us to sympathize with such people and help them as much as we can. After all, one can always help with something - if not materially, then spiritually. If there is no way to help a person with treatment and pay for it, then at least one can morally support the person. Sometimes such support is much more important than material resources.
We are called to perceive everyone whom we meet on our life path as our neighbour. We are called to not divide people according to the principle of nationality, religion, wealth or poverty, or according to any other signs. The Lord is calling us to active love, which is embodied, first of all, in works of mercy.
Today's parable also reminds us of this. It sounds very appropriate on the first day of the Nativity Fast. Indeed, many people think that fasting is reduced only to not eating meat, eggs, cheese, or drinking milk. But true fasting, as we hear in liturgical hymns, is abstinence from evil, it is our good deeds in relation to our neighbors. If we want to fast properly, then we are called to lead the homeless into homes, feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, grant everyone what they need, help everyone with what we can.
This is ultimately what true fasting and Christianity are about. It is on this basis that the Lord will judge people at the Last Judgment and separate the sheep from the goats. He will not look at who followed which rules, but shall certainly ask us about how we treated our neighbours.
Let this Gospel parable, which we have heard today, serve as a lesson for us all. Let it remind us of those Christian virtues which the Lord is expecting from us in order for us to be saved and enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Amen.
Happy Feast to you all! "
Then, on behalf of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk presented the Patriarchal award to the President of the Festival "Russkoe Zarubezhie" scriptwriter and director S. L. Zaitsev.
By the decree of His Holiness Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, in consideration of the contribution to the preservation of traditional values in society S.L. Zaitsev was awarded the Order of Holy Prince Daniel of Moscow, III class.
Thanking Metropolitan Hilarion for the high award, S. L. Zaitsev, as a token of deep gratitude for many years of assistance in organizing the film festival "Russkoe Zarubezhie", presented the DECR Chairman with the festival’s catalogues.
Vladyka Hilarion then presented certificates to the graduates of the "Youth Course on the Basics of the Orthodox Faith". The course was organized by the youth club at the church in honor of the icon of the Mother of God "Joy to All who Sorrow" on Bolshaya Ordynka.
DECR Communication Service