Sermon by Newly-Canonized Serbian Bishop Mardarije (Uskokovic) on the Second Sunday of Great Lent, Delivered at the Church of Saint Olga Orphanage in Kishinev.
My dear children. I visited your wealthy and valuable library, I saw very many interesting and beneficial books on various topics and saw you often reading these fine tomes. But to my great sorrow and disappointment, I did not see the most important of all books. I looked throughout the library and could not find a single Bible. You are not to blame for this, nor are your teachers, it is the spirit of the time that is to blame, contemporary society. This wonderful book is very hard to find even in the most eminent homes. It is considered to be an old, boring book whose days have passed. Oh how cruelly are people mistaken! There is no book more valuable than the Bible. There was not and will not ever be another book which can replace the Bible.
There is no book in the whole world which contains so many teachings that can lead one to salvation, so much life and spirit as the Bible. How many wondrous and miraculous words are contained therein, thousands and millions of words that shine like the Sun. When you read the Bible, you cannot help but be amazed and exclaim “Oh, how Divine, how wonderful!” The words are like jewels that sparkle in the sunshine, sparkle under the sunlight of eternal love, and tell us of the great miracles of mercy of our great God. But why, dear children, is the Bible such an important and most important book? Because the words of the Bible are not the words of man or of several people, they are the words of God Himself. Man could not write the Bible, man is in no condition to elevate himself to such a height of sanctity and creativity. The Author of the Bible is God Himself, though He chose His selected few to inscribe the words.
You might ask: Didn't we learn that the Bible was written by people, by Moses, by David, Isaiah, the Prophets, the Apostles and the Evangelists? Yes, these people held in their hands the stylus, the writing utensil, recording the great revelations, which expressed the greatest and most profound thoughts, truths, the holiest of all sensibilities, inspired by the Holy Spirit, they were inspired by God.
Man did not write down every word and every letter of God, but recorded His thoughts and His will, and laid them down in human tongue. The Bible is a large book, in which the Father of Heaven reveals to His children everything that they need for their salvation. It is a book in which God consoles us in our sorrows and our failings, He gives us strength in our weakness and our despair, He gives us wisdom and guidance.
That is why the Bible is the greatest the most treasured book in the world, and that is why it must occupy the first place in all libraries and among all the books of every house, that is why it must be taken advantage of by us with special attention and love.
If any of you has not received a letter from your father or mother for a long time, from a brother or sister, and when you finally do then you treasure it and cherish it and read it over and over several times. That is how you should read the Holy Bible. This is not a letter of a father or a mother not from a person but a letter from the God, of the Father of Heaven. Read the Bible. It will grant you much that is beneficial and necessary in life. It will teach you joy, not to be proud yet not fall in spirit. Maybe you cannot afford to buy it, ask your friends to buy you a Bible, and do not part from it for your whole lives., May it be your constant companion in your life’s path, it will be your best and most faithful friend. Let it occupy a visible place among your other books, read it carefully both when you are happy and satisfied and also when you are sorrowful when you fall into temptation.
Know that when every last person might abandon you, even your parents, only the Bible will remain with you, will not betray you even in the most bitter and burdensome moments of your lives, it will give you the teaching of eternal love, of the Father of Heaven, and it will embolden your spirit and your heart.
I had known many people who could not read even the finest books twice, the finest works of great literature of the philosophers and thinkers. They could not find anything of sufficient interest, and so do not reread them. The Bible has a certain characteristic, a property, and that will never be exhausted of knowledge, that is why it must be read and reread. The Bible contains a great wealth, an inexhaustible source of blessed treasures. The Bible is the only book in the whole world which is an interest to all men all times and all peoples.
It is equally interesting for the scholar, and the aspiring theologian, for the lad who can barely read. For you all it must be especially interesting. All of you children, all children wherever they may be, come to love the travels, love the descriptions of the lives of great people, descriptions of the astounding feats of great heroes, love stories about miracles, love the songs. You will find all of this in the Bible--accounts of the travels of the people of Israel through a great desert to the land of Canaan, you will read wonderful pages from the life of Holy Apostle Paul in Asia and Europe, and his great deeds, his sufferings and labors. You will read in the Bible wonderful pages of the heroic efforts of great men. You will read about Gideon, Samson, David and others. You will find many miracles contained therein, which will reveal to you the great and wondrous works of God. You will find yourself swept away in reading the Bible. Read the Bible, my dear children, read it often, and you will see that in addition to the good and the joy it brings you. At first it may seem too difficult for you, obscure, but continue to read. What you won't understand today you will understand tomorrow. Read it, for in the Bible is the key to eternal joy to eternal life. Amen.
March 14, 1910.