Thursday, December 18, 2014
HOMILY OF OUR VENERABLE FATHER JUSTIN OF CHELIJE
ON THE FEASTDAY OF ST. NICHOLAS, 1966
Behold a Feast when all Serbs are on their feet! Serbs on earth and Serbs in Heaven! The earthly Serbia and the Heavenly Serbia! All is united! In what? In prayer; to whom? - The great and wonder-working servant of God, our holy Father Nicholas the Wonderworker! Today many more of those who celebrate his memory are in Heaven than on earth. Today nearly half of Serbs celebrate him on earth. And in Heaven there are countless of deceased celebrants. And the other half of Serbs take part in prayer, in the breath of the great Saint of God. No other time are there more prayers coming from Serbia than today! No other time are there more prayerful sighs and cries than today! Today the wonder-working Saint of God, all merciful, gentle, meek and good has united all Serbian hearts. Not only Serbian, but all Christians throughout the world. There is no Saint among Saints who is loved as much by the Serbian people.
Two rulers, two spiritual rulers rule the Serbian soul: St. Nicholas and St. Sava. Those are two Saints of God who rule over the Serbian soul, over our history. They rule over our history. No one delivered the Serbian soul to God as much as these two. No one enlightened the Serbian people with the Gospel of Christ so brightly, gloriously, archangelicly, cherubicly, as St. Nicholas and St. Sava. Two miraculous Saints of God, two eternal rulers over the soul and history of Serbia. And there will be Serbs as long as they rule over the Serbian soul, God's blessing will be on the Serbian soul and Serbian land. And when and if Serbs leave them, they leave themselves, they leave Heaven, they leave Paradise, and they consciously place themselves under the yoke, the yoke and embrace of all demons and all devils. Why does the world love him so much?
Why does the world address him so much? Why do the Serbs celebrate him, more so than any other Saint? Because the Gospel of Christ was fulfilled in him. In today's Gospel it is said that following the Savior were "a great number of people from all over" (Luke 6:17-19), especially many sick of various different sicknesses. Everyone rushed to "hear Him and be healed of their diseases", all, all! From the most dangerous, deadly, diseases no one remained unhealed! "Power was coming from Him and healing all" (Luke 6:19). That miraculous power is not a power from man but from Christ the Lord.
That power, brother, that power, behold, proceeds and passes through our Holy Father Nicholas the Wonderworker and heals all those who address him with whatever request, whether they be sick of any disease spiritual or physical, whether we be suffering in any way - power comes from him and heals all! Behold, his mystery. Behold, why all of us, all Serbs, and all people throughout the world address him so fervently and unceasingly and often. Power proceeds from him and helps everyone. Who is the man, who is the Christian that addressed St Nicholas the Wonderworker and his prayer was not heard and he didn't help him?! Not only is he merciful but all merciful! And whoever addressed him once and experienced his help, will call upon him often and very often and most often as the great and rapid Helper of God, always ready to come down from Heaven, to give peace to the soul, to hear the prayer, to heal the sickness, to comfort the sad, to feed the hungry.
From whence did that mercy of God come to St. Nicholas? Why specifically through him that that power of God should proceed and heal all? The Lord is Christ fully in His Church, Christ the Lord to each Saint and Saints grants that power which is in Him, and through His Church that power is poured on this world. It is that which saves this world from the last and final killings and destruction. It is that which always keeps this world, this godless and frightful world, still keeping it alive, in existence! That great mercy of Christ the Lord heals people from sin, heals people of all suffering, of all torments, and facilitates all of that.
From where, from where does our Lord pour so abundantly that power and continuously pour it out through our holy Father Nicholas the Wonderworker? From whence? It is because he, as it is said in today's hymn, the solemn hymn, "fulfilled the Gospel of Christ the Lord" - he fulfilled the Gospel - that means that he received upon himself the Resurrected Lord Christ, received all of His power in himself, Him personally did he receive, he received all the riches Christ the Lord gives to man for his faith in Him. Behold, the holy Father Nicholas fulfilled the word of God, and for this reason, as a reward, he received Divine power, the Divine power which heals all sicknesses, of all deaths, of all misfortunes. The power of the faith of Christ, for faith in the Holy Gospel is in the power of God (1 Cor. 2:5). St. Nicholas had that power of faith, always did he have it, him who lives since the year 343 and now he lives in Heaven, and is always prepared to come and visit the world to save the human heart. The power of faith, behold what carried and carries St. Nicholas.
Yes, in his troparion sung today, in today's most important hymn and prayer, he is referred to as the "rule of faith". How he believes, St. Nicholas, that is true faith! How he believes, that's how you should believe! This is salvation, this is the power of God, this is the spirit of God, this is Heavenly riches, this is the Kingdom of Heaven. He brought to this world such power, meekness, always on the legs of a pigeon, always flying on silent wings. All of that power with which he helps people, that is the power of his beloved Lord Jesus. For this reason is it also said in today's hymn about him, that he is "an image of humility", an image of humility! As he, then, says: "Lord, I, a man, I am dust and ashes, I am dirt and clay, decay; but You, You give Divine power".
He was all humble before Christ the Lord, all worthless, always ready to confess: Lord, what is my spirit compared to Your Spirit? - Nothing. What is my mind, what is my heart, what am I, Nicholas the Wonderworker, before You? I am dust and ashes unless You give me Your power, unless You are in me. For, from You, my immortality comes from You, my power comes from You, my strength comes from You, my eternity comes from You, my Eternal Truth is from you. Everything Lord is from You! He gained the heights of humility, that is, through his humility he reached the heights of divine matters. What kind? Heavenly riches, he gained all of the Heavenly riches. His prayers bring so many souls to the Kingdom of Heaven. Who is wealthier than him? He, humble, first a monk, and then bishop and archbishop of the Orthodox Church.
Death takes away everything man has: land, body, eyes, ears, death takes it all. What is the Holy soul? The soul that goes before the Lord. That is why, while still in the world, as a young man he renounced himself of everything, became a monk to serve the Lord God. And he served Him with his whole heart, his whole soul, with all of his strength and his whole being! He followed Him. He didn't turn neither left nor right (Luke 9:62). The Lord was always before him, Christ was always around him, He was always in front of him, always going and being led to the Kingdom of God. St. Nicholas was always following Him.
A mere beggar who renounced himself of everything, all of his property, he instantly became a wealthy man. Again, in the troparion today it is said: "your poverty enriched you", that is, "through his poverty he gained riches", all riches. Whose? Divine riches. Heavenly riches, riches which do no pass away, which do not rot. That is what the great Saint of God and Monk and Bishop Nicholas the Wonderworker gained. Yes, a man who has nothing, has everything. He has nothing of that which men consider necessary: neither home, nor earthly housing, neither a roof above his head, but he had everything, everything which is eternal, these are the riches Christ our Lord gives.
This is why we celebrate his memory. He is full of Christ, full Christ-bearer, full of the fullness of the Eternal Truth of Christ, the Eternal Life of Christ, the Eternal Mercy of Christ. No one like him begged the merciful Christ our Lord, with their entire being, and himself became merciful. That is that Faith which the Lord seeks: Be you therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful (Luke 6:36). If anyone among men has reached this mercy in the highest measure, than that is undoubtedly the holy Bishop Nicholas the Wonderworker.
And for this reason we can freely address him, the all merciful, at all times, even when you are in the gravest sin, in the gravest fall, in the gravest vice, in the gravest trouble and difficulty and concern, you cry out: "Help me, holy Father Nicholas!" "Forgive me and help me!" He will come to your aid, he will not leave you, he will never leave anyone, no matter how sinful, no matter how unworthy. He covers our sins with his mercy and his Divine and Christ-like mercifulness, all of our troubles, all of our passions, and is always ready to weep over all of us, to help them, to embrace them, to bring them on the path of Christ's Truth which through Eternal Truth leads to Eternal Life.
For this reason, for this reason and always for this reason, we so miraculously love and celebrate our Holy Father Nicholas the Wonderworker, whom we pray always has us - by his mercy - in his prayers. We celebrate him on earth; may he, praying for the forgiveness of our sins, celebrate us in Heaven, that - because of him - the Lord might have mercy on us and save us and open all the doors of the Kingdom of Heaven. That he, that miraculous Saint of God, lead us both in this world and the next. Amen.
1966, Monastery Chelije