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Sermon by Archbishop Savva (Raevsky, +1976) on the 12th Sunday of Pentecost

“Good Master, what good thing shall I do,
that I may have eternal life?”
(Matthew 19:16).

Archbishop Savva (Raevsky)

In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

This question, beloved brothers and sisters, as we read in the Gospel today, was posed by a wealthy and renowned youth to Jesus Christ. The young man, the Gospel states, was among those with loftier spiritual questions, those who hunger and thirst for Divine truth. That is why he turned to the Source of truth itself, Jesus Christ, Who said of Himself: “I am the path, the truth and the life.” Wealth and notoriety did not stifle the youth’s lofty and bright yearning. Daily life did not drain him. He was not like those who lose their spiritual instinct, and direct their entire world view and efforts only towards the visible, the earthly.

No, this young man was different. The question of the salvation of his soul was foremost on his mind. He thinks about eternal life, about the Kingdom of Heaven, he strives towards this and seeks the right path. He had already done much in this regard; he fulfilled the commandments: do not kill, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not lie, etc. Judging from a human standpoint, he had ascended the stairs of moral perfection. But he could not bring himself up to the top.
“If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me” (Matthew 19:21 ).

Hearing these words, the youth departed in sorrow, because he had a large estate. Jesus then said to His disciples: “Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:22-23).

In the Gospel youth’s conversation with the Savior, we see the best explanation for the prayers and meaning of today’s celebration.

Today we monastics, and you laypeople beloved of God, lift our gaze heavenward in ordert o join our prayers to the Lord and sekk His blessing for further building and strengthening of the Monastery of All Saints.
So one more Orthodox Christian altar table is established, upon which the Bloodless Sacrifice of Christ is offered for the whole world. Yet another candle is lit before the Image of the Savior. Today we invited you, dear brothers and sisters, so that together we could raise our common prayers and strengthen our resolve to finish this task without further obstacle, for the creation of a monastery as a spiritual center is the work not only of monks but of each Orthodox Christian living in our diocese; it is the challenge of all Orthodox Christians; the success of this endeavor is in the interest of every person who believes in Jesus Christ, who strives to save his own soul.

The salvation of the soul is the primary, fundamental and dearest thing to every believing person. A person who does not tend to the salvation of his soul cannot be considered religious, let alone an Orthodox Christian. A person who does not care for the state of his soul cannot understand the meaning and importance of Christian deeds, and cannot participate in them. Possessing a soul burned through sin cannot offer spiritual aid to another . Modern man , who is obsessed with pleasing the flesh , consuming material goods , forgets about his soul …

The eminent archpastor, Archbishop Macarius of Tomsk and Altai, later Metropolitan of Moscow, said this: “The soul hungers and wanders in the garments of disgrace and passions.” One wise man said: “If I were asked before I was born into this world: ‘what will you desire here?’ I would respond that I would not like to have a human soul. Why ? Because a human being cares least of all about his own soul.”

Is this not true, brothers and sisters, that we pay the least attention to what our soul needs?
“The soul is in need of knowledge,” said St Macarius, “it needs truth, but we leave it in ignorance, we feed it lies, deceit. The soul needs love, and we offer it hatred, enmity and anger towards everyone. The soul needs for us to follow our conscience, obey the law given by God, meanwhile, we simply trample upon the voice of our conscience. The soul originated with God, and yearns for God like a child yearns for its mother, but we do not let it approach God. What results is that in our strong, well-adorned, well-fed bodies is a soul hungry and cold, and anxious from the reproach of our conscience. The soul complains to God: lead me out of this prison, so that I can make confession, so that I can glorify Your name, where it will be bright, and warm and comfortable.”

What should a person do to comfort his soul, to satisfy its needs and save it from death and eternal doom?
Brothers and sisters, one must first of all remember that we have a soul in addition to a body. We must remember that our soul needs nourishment and clothing. This must be remembered by those who live in this world, especially by those who sell their estate and distribute their money to the poor, following the instructions of the Lord. Such people, boldly and selflessly following Christ, include the monks and nuns who leave behind worldly cares in order to devote themselves to God. Monastics leave the world in order to labor in solitude over their moral perfection. Monastics join monasteries by their free will, in order to fulfill the strict and various vows which mark the monastic life: vows of profound humility, rejection of one’s own will, obedience; vows of utter poverty; vows of constant mortification of the flesh, chastity and bodily and spiritual purity.

That is the main goal of monasteries within the Church of Christ.

 


 

 
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