May Our Warrior of Christ Fight For the Maiden of Peace

Sermon on the Feast of the Great-Martyr George the Victorious


Today we read the well-known Life of the Great-Martyr George the Victorious, who was an ordinary soldier in his lifetime. He was very brave. He faithfully served his Emperor, who was not even a pious Christian. But he carried out his orders, defending his fatherland, as long as the question about his piety and faith—who he believed in and how he believed—was not raised. Later he withstood the tormentors and persecutors steadfastly and courageously and firmly confessed the Christian faith, enduring great torments, for which he was called a great-martyr.

But his icons depict the events that occurred after his martyrdom. Even after death, he continued to stand up against all malice and injustice in this world, which always abounds. And they depict the events that took place in a pagan city, where there was an unholy tradition—to make a bloody human sacrifice, and it had to be a female, a virgin. And that year this lot fell to the Emperor’s daughter. She was to be sacrificed to some lizard that inhabited that area (like a modern monitor lizard). As a Christian, she prayed. Then the saint appeared to her on a white horse with a spear—as he used to fight in defense of his fatherland—and saved her.

We must always bear this symbolic image in our hearts, to have this icon at home, in order to remember that every Christian is first of all a soldier of Christ. And the most important battle that each one of us should fight is in our hearts. The Lord has planted a pure “maiden”, the chastity and purity of soul, kindness and inner beauty in all of us. According to God’s plan, each one of us is called to holiness. There is the courageous “knight” in all of us who wants this good. But there is also the evil one in this world who acts through our thoughts, through the passions that we voluntarily let into ourselves, through the addictions that we acquire so easily during our lives, and through our neighbors.

Sometimes, as we see it now, the dynamics of this anger, hatred, envy, revenge and self-interest even reach the levels of states, nations, and the whole world. And then dozens of countries are induced to participate in this conflict. Now, once again, Russia is left alone with God. Perhaps this is a Gospel sign. The Lord said, Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you (Lk. 6:26). It is also other way round, Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake (Mt. 5:11).

May God grant that we find this valiant, brave “knight” in our hearts who will resist all the thoughts and sinful passions that rise up in us. They strive to devour this pure “maiden” that the Lord has placed in us, and which needs to be cultivated to acquire the peace of Christ. And then we must become true peacemakers, sowing this peace of God—but not peace with sin, for what concord hath Christ with Belial? (2 Cor. 6:15). The Lord said that no one can take this peace and joy away from us. If we have it in us, as He said, when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you (Mt. 10:19–20). But above all, we must purify our conscience and try to live honestly; first of all before God and before ourselves. And then we will feel this power of God working in and through us.

Our lives may be filled with many problems. Nowhere has the Lord promised that we would be healed from all illnesses and everything around us would be bliss and happiness. But everything will be filled with the deepest meaning, and our difficulties, suffering and illnesses will no longer be so terrible for us. For they also will become stepping stones that lift us up to the knowledge of Christ, Who suffers morally out of love, so that every person who can be saved will be saved.

Hieromonk David (Legeida)
Translation by Dmitry Lapa

Valaam Monastery


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