In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit!
On today’s feast, dear brothers and sisters, we carry out the Honorable and Life-Creating Cross of the Lord in remembrance that the Lord was crucified for us, saves us by this, and has already saved us from eternal judgment—if only we ourselves would assimilate His redeeming service by our faith, hope, and love for Him, each bearing his own cross with patience.
Today we also celebrate the memory of the Old Testament Maccabean Martyrs. The history of the Jewish people is a remarkable history. It is edifying for us in many ways. Study the Holy Scriptures, read the Bible. The Gospel is written in golden letters—keep it with you always like a table reference book that teaches what and how we should do in life: whether selling, buying, hiring, or paying our employees. Whoever reads the Bible attentively will never make a mistake in life. The sacred history of the Old Testament tells us that there was a time when the Jewish people were punished for their impiety with an invasion by the pagan conqueror Antioch Epiphanies, who staged sacrifices everywhere to idols and forced all the Jews to bow down to them. All bowed down and brought sacrifices to the idols except for the seven Maccabean brothers, their mother Solomonia, and their teacher Eleazar. The Maccabeans were tortured terribly for the true faith in the presence of their mother Solomonia, who strengthened her sons in their sufferings. They were all tortured to death, and their mother also received a martyr’s death after them.
Mothers, this has to do with you. This is a great teaching for you. Raise your children in the spirit of the Orthodox Faith; confirm them in the faith, so that they would not renounce the Lord. If you should have to experience such moments of testing of your faith, emulate Solomonia, the mother of the Maccabean Martyrs. Do not renounce the Lord, for the sake of your salvation and for the glory of His holy name. Hold fast to the Orthodox Faith to the end of your lives. We have no other teacher and instructor besides Jesus Christ. Do not accept any other instructor besides Him. Only He is our way, truth and life. If you do not obey His instructions, you will be lost and perish forever.
Jesus Christ says in the holy Gospels: Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law (Matt. 10:34-35). That is, the Lord came to earth to separate the lovers of this world from the lovers of God.
Now many talk about peace, but all of this talk is lies and deception. What kind of peace can there be in the world when there is no unanimity of faith? One person is Orthodox, another is a Catholic, a third is a Lutheran, the fourth is a sectarian or atheist. Only the Lord can provide true divine peace. He said in the holy Gospel: My peace I give unto you (Jn. 14:27). For whoever has this peace of God in him, for whoever has Christ in his heart, neither wars, nor earthquakes, nor fires, nor any kind of catastrophe exist. It is always well with such a person no matter what situations he finds himself in.
The holy fathers have given us a remarkable thought about death: “Remember your end, and you will never sin.” If you think to buy a house or a summer home, to put away money in a bank, stop and in thought place yourself in a coffin, and remember: you will die today or tomorrow. And the truth will be revealed to you as to whether or not you really need to do that thing—to put money in the bank, buy a house, or to travel a long distance to ask an elder for advice. There is no need to look for an elder—place yourself in thought in the coffin, and you will learn what you need to do.
Thus, let us bow down before the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord for our fortification, and with love and patience let us carry our crosses for our salvation. Let us emulate the holy Maccabean Martyrs and their mother Solomonia in readiness to suffer for the Orthodox faith, and then the Lord, without a doubt, will receive us into His holy habitations prepared for those who love Him.