Holy Ascension Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
“Be Thou exalted, O God, above the heavens, and Thy glory above all the earth.”
Homily on the Need to Die in Order to Bring Forth Much Fruit

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it dies, it bringeth forth much fruit" (John 12:24).

Why does the sower cast wheat upon the ground? Does he do this so that the wheat will die and rot? No, he does this so that it will live and bear fruit. In sowing the seed, the sower does not think about the death and decay of the seed, but rather about its life and yield. Indeed, with joy does the sower sow his seed, not thinking about the death of the seed, but rather about life and fruitfulness.

The Sower is Christ the Lord and men are His wheat. He was pleased to call us wheat. There are many other types of seed on earth, but nothing is more precious than wheat. Why did the Lord sow us throughout the world? So that we should die and decay? No, rather that we should live and bring forth fruit. He alludes to our death incidentally. He alludes to death only as a condition for life and multiple yield. The goal of sowing is not death but life. The seed must first die and decay, and He mentions this only in passing because He knows we are fully aware of it. He only reminds us incidentally of this, as His Gospel is primarily a narrative of life--about life and about bringing forth good fruit. He speaks to us a great deal about the latter because He knows we are not aware of it and that we are suffocating from ignorance and doubt. Not only does He speak to us abundantly about life, but He also shows us life. By His Resurrection, He demonstrates to us, more clearly than the sun, life and the multitude of fruit. The entire history of His Church is a clear map of life.

O invincible Lord of Life, save us from a sinful death. Deliver us from spiritual death.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

REFLECTION

It is said about Pericles that he was a man of almost perfect human beauty except that his head was oblong and resembled a gourd [squash], so that he was subject to ridicule when he appeared bareheaded in public. In order to conceal the defect of this great man of his people, Greek sculptors always portrayed him with a helmet on his head. When some of the pagans knew how to conceal the defects of their friends, how much more, therefore, are we Christians obligated to do the same? Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another (Romans 12:10), commands the Apostle to those who cling to Christ. How can we say that we adhere to the meek and All-pure Christ if we daily poison the air with tales about the sins and shortcomings of others? To conceal your own virtue and the shortcomings of others--in this is preeminent spiritual wisdom.

Prologue from Ochrid
April 9/22

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Western American Diocese, Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
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