Immortal Words from Righteous Job

A Homily at Holy Tuesday Matins

Schema-Archimandrite Zosima (Sokur) Schema-Archimandrite Zosima (Sokur)

My beloved flock, I greet you with the holy evening of Great Tuesday. By God’s grace, we have passed the first day of Holy Week, Holy Monday, in peace, in quietness, in prayer with special, heartfelt feeling, perceiving the great events of these holy days of Holy Week with our hearts. The Lord granted us this morning to again savor the wondrous hymn “Behold, the Bridegroom comes at midnight, and blessed is that servant whom He shall find watching.” Remembering this Gospel parable, we entreat the Lord that He not give us to find ourselves outside the bridal chamber, that He not shut the doors of Paradise before us, but that He might receive us into the Heavenly Kingdom.

And again we heard the hymn, “I see Thy Bridal Chamber adorned, O my Savior,”—a wondrous pearl of Holy Week. Identifying with these wonderful hymns, I believe these wondrous words, my soul changes, my soul prays, my soul strives for the Heavenly Mansions beyond the bonds of the flesh.

We recognize our unworthiness, we recognize our wretchedness, our pride, our distrust and our impure thoughts we recognize, O Lord! Our spiritual apparel is dark. But a sigh is heard today: “Make the robe of my soul to shine, O Giver of light, and save me.” Although we are soiled, all the same we are Thine, O Lord! Deep faith lives in our hearts, and undoubting hope in Thy love, O Lord! Turn us not away from Thy face, but remember us all in Thy Kingdom! And it is a joy that that time will come when Christ will save us and fill our souls!

Today is the day we remember the righteous Noble Joseph. Tomorrow is the memory of a second Old Testament righteous one, Job the Much-Suffering, who also suffered innocently. And what does he teach us by his innocent suffering? That nothing happens without the will of God, without the commandments of God in our earthly lives. By his life, the righteous Job wholly rejects the superstitious delusions of our age: spells, witchcraft, looking back at one another, looking around suspiciously at who is standing near us. It is a lie—it’s the grave sin of suspicion against one’s neighbor. One hair does not even fall from a man’s head without the will of God!

Ilya Repin. Job and His Friends. 1869. Russian Museum Ilya Repin. Job and His Friends. 1869. Russian Museum

Carefully read the life of Righteous Job the Much-Suffering. God allowed the devil to send many tragedies to Job: Only spare his life, He commanded. The devil has no authority over the life of man. And all manner of misfortunes was poured out upon the righteous Job, all troubles, even up to a serious disease—leprosy. They led him out of the city, and as we read today, Righteous Job, deprived of everything, forsaken by all, sat down upon a dunghill. And dogs came, licked his festering wounds, and relieved his suffering. And he didn’t grumble against God! His wife came and said, “Curse God, that you might die sooner and not suffer! And me together with you.” “Madwoman, what are you saying? Should we really only thank God for the good? We must thank Him for the bad as well,” the suffering righteous one answered her, sitting upon a dunghill. And he didn’t curse God, saying, “Naked I came into this world, and naked I will leave this world”—wonderful, immortal words from Righteous Job the Much-Suffering.

Indeed, through his trials he defeated the devil, and the disgraced devil retreated from him. His temptations ceased. The Lord gave him a new family, a new life, new riches, and new joys. And having reached a deep old age, the great righteous one resettled into the bosom of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, into eternal life. Through this wondrous life, the Lord gives us an admonition so we wouldn’t be superstitious and not think that someone is sending us sickness, that someone is cursing us, and so on. Deception and superstition are the grave sins of this age! Christians must not believe this! The will of God is over all, and everything in our lives comes from the hand of God. And by the prayers of Righteous Job the Much-Suffering, grant us, O Lord, pure, deep, and firm faith! Although a demon will tempt us all with various thoughts, and I, a sinner, am the first he tempts. Chase them out! O Lord, Thou workest all in my life for good and for my salvation; grant that I might firmly believe in Thy holy Providence!—that it’s not anyone doing something to me. May Thy will, O Lord, be in our lives! “Not as I will,” the Lord prayed before His death, “but as Thou willest, Father. May Thy holy will be done.” Amen.

I greet you all in our holy church with holy Great Tuesday, with the holy Divine service, my beloved flock. Again, I ask you: Have less commotion. These are holy days! These could perhaps be the last days of my fellowship with you, because suddenly, in one moment I could collapse, and I would no longer be with you. God knows how long I have with you yet. May these wondrous sounds, these pearls, this “Bridal Chamber” accompany you through all your remaining life. And when things are hard, sigh and say: “O Giver of Light, make the robe of my soul to shine, and save me!” Amen.

I heartily empathize with you all! Not with the mind, like all the Baptists and every evil spirit of this age, but with the heart! The heart is our main repository! Not with wayward rationality, for our mind, our brain is miserable, but the heart is holy, bright, soft, loving, good, and joyous. God bless you all!

Schema-Archimandrite Zosima (Sokur)
Translated by Jesse Dominick

Batjushka Zosima


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