THE JOY OF TRIUMPHANT LOVE: A sermon on the feast-day of St. Nicholas the Wonder-worker
By Hieromonk Ignaty (Shestakov)
By Hieromonk Ignaty (Shestakov) – In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
St. Nicholas the Wonder-worker. A fourteenth-century fresco in the nave of the Holy Ascension Church at Visoki Decani Monastery, Kosovo and Metohia, Serbia
Commemorating the memory of a great pleaser of God, St. Nicholas the WonderworkerSt. Nicholas the Wonderworker, we are celebrating the joy of triumphant love. His life was an exploit, an ascetic labor, a prayer, a defense of and struggle for the Orthodox faith and truth; and in this exploit that St. Nicholas performed regardless of persons, he persevered to the end, pouring all his being into the Church of God and Christ, his Divine Teacher. He testified to us that the way of the cross, suffering, and podvig is indeed the path of joy and spiritual victory over the evil of this world, over passions and the devil.
The Lord deigned to reveal this all-triumphant joy precisely in this saint in a particular way. Many of us have experienced this joy in our lives, absolutely undeservedly and unexpectedly, when all the circumstances of our lives indicated that there was no way out, no help. It was through St. Nicholas the Wonderworker that The Lord would send us this consolation, small and great; and many can bear witness to this—they remember and know what special grace this holy hierarch possessed. And he attained it by showing true love throughout his life, for charity… seeketh not her own…, Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth (1 Cor. 13:4-7).
Whenever he saw untruth, he struggled against it; whenever he saw any injustice, sin, or evil happening to his neighbors, St. Nicholas at once did his best to stop it and help them.
Today we live in a world where we learn about many, many misfortunes which befall people living around us. And we are already used to the fact that we are content with these misfortunes—our information space is built in such a way that we incessantly hear endless reports of someone being imprisoned or on trial, while we perceive this as some sort of entertainment and deep inside we even rejoice, not worrying for the person in question (for his situation to improve) but, on the contrary, for his situation to worsen. As for St. Nicholas, he did just the opposite by doing good works both in public and secretly. Today, on his feast-day, we must recall the good deeds we have experienced in our lives and how much time and how much strength we have in order to do charitable acts in secret so that triumphant joy in the Lord Jesus Christ can fill our lives and guide us to the salvation of our souls and the meeting with the Lord in the Heavenly Kingdom. Amen.