Sermon of Archbishop Mark of Berlin and Germany
on St John of Shanghai and San Francisco the Miracle-worker
(On the 50th Anniversary of the Repose of St John)
In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
St John is chronologically the closest saint of our Church in terms. Here, in Munich, Germany, he prayed in our old cathedral, at our monastery, he met fellow archpastors here, deliberated upon the future of our Church. But I heard more about St John not from our own bishops, priests or parishioners, but from those who belonged to another Local Orthodox Church and another nationality, who revered him long before his canonization. In Serbia, where I studied, our Fr Justin (Popovic), and many, many others remember St John with love and veneration. This bears witness to the fact that he is closest to us chronologically, but maybe not spiritually.
Our challenge as we celebrate the anniversary of his death is to he be the closest to us in spirit as well. In what way does he stand out compared with the host of saints of our times, and of all times?
St John was in a sense a person of extremes. He demanded the strictest of behavior from himself—strict fasting, sleeping without lying down, treating his body as a necessary envelope and temple of the Holy Spirit, but most of all a home for the Holy Spirit first, and secondarily as a temple. He treated his neighbors with the greatest of sympathy. He would visit and heal the sick, prayed for those in need, he cured people when they were far away, even those whom he didn’t know personally.
This is how he passed on Divine mercy, the glory of God was manifested in this world through him. When we examine those two elements of his holy life, it becomes glaringly obvious where we ourselves commit sin. We are usually most demanding to those around us, and most sympathetic to ourselves. That is our sin, that state of mind in which we stand in contrast to St John and the Grace of the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit enters us when we follow the footsteps of the saints, when we receive the word of the Holy Spirit as expressed in the Holy Gospel, in Holy Scripture and the words of the Holy Fathers; when the legacy of our Fathers become for us our real foundation, when we live accordingly, then we enter into the Trinitarian life of the Most-Holy Trinity, uniting with all the saints not only intellectually, but spiritually, physically, because we receive their essence through Christ, Who took upon Himself our fleshly essence.
Dear brothers and sisters, St John is our saint, who illuminated the entire Russian diaspora. And we, his followers, must follow in his footsteps, the embrace the entire world in our hearts, to open our hearts and offer our hands to our neighbors, to the sick and the spiritually and physically ailing, so that we ourselves can become the children of St John, the children of his Church and ours.