My dear ones, first I would like to express my sincere gratitude for inviting me to serve Liturgy in this church, on this very day when we celebrate our holy Father Nickolas, the Archbishop of Myra Lycia and Wonderworker. In fact, on this day we celebrate the memory of the transferring of his relics from the once famous city of Myra Lycia, in today’s Turkey, to the Italian city of Bari. I was very much impressed by your unbreakable determination, love and desire for us to serve a holy Liturgy today. And I’m saying this because lately it’s very rare in our villages to find people who want to attend a Liturgy. But to my great joy, this is not the case with your village.
As you know, the young people from this village started coming more often to services, first at the Precista Monastery and then also at our Bigorski Monastery, and I couldn’t but notice in their hearts the great love towards our ancestors faith, which preserved us as a nation all throughout history up to present days. Namely, even this wonderful church testifies about the love of our forefathers for God. You see, even in those hard times at the beginning of XIX cent., when the people were not wealthy at all, nor free, they still built magnificent churches to God and His saints, such as this one, dedicated to St. Nickolas the Wonderworker of Myra Lycia. Because the glory of this saint spread around the whole Universe and there is no place in the world where they don’t know about him and his numerous miracles.
But what was that special about the personality of St. Nickolas? He was a man just like us, inherited like us the weakness of human nature. However, when he took the path of the Holy Gospel, the path of Light, of the One Who said: I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life (John 8, 12), he became light himself. And how did he turn into light? By making good deeds, loving as his children the people that God entrusted to him. He started preparing for this holy service from his early age, as a child. Of course, then he had no idea that one day he would become a bishop, and only strived wholeheartedly to serve Christ with complete devotion. And endowed by this Christ’s love, he treated people with goodness all his life, fulfilling in this way the most important Divine Commandment for love, because it is the greatest Christian virtue. St. Apostle Paul said: And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity (I Corinth. 13, 13). Do you see, these three virtues are the greatest, but the most important one among them is love. And if you carefully read the life of St. Nickolas, you would see to what extent he helped everybody, especially the poor. Therefore, he was crowned with the evergreen garland of glory in the Heavenly Kingdom, attained boldness before God. Although he lived in the IV cent., as many as 17 centuries ago, even today people celebrate his memory which has imprinted on them with such strength that they always turn to him in temptations, asking for his intercession before God. We too can, if we want to, address him in our prayers because he is kind and loving and listens to our supplications, blessing our noble petitions, because he has gained freedom before God. He is alive, just as we would be, if only we take the path of Light. So, let us follow Christ and become light ourselves. This is the message of St. Nickolas, leaving to us his legacy to preserve the faith of Christ in every place, in this village as well, and to protect Christianity.
No matter how hard it is, how tempted we are, we should stay in our Christian homeland and continue along the path that our glorious forefathers have opened for us. To be a Christian is a great responsibility. To be a Christian is to be e person who will constantly shine bright with his good deeds, thus testifying about God. Because God said: Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5, 16). So, you see, others will estimate our faith based on what we are like and what our deeds are. Therefore, let us strive harder, the way our forefathers did, who managed to persevere in the many temptations and turbulence those restless times brought, only because of the evangelical messages. They not only respected those messages but also brought them to life, so they became light. And they are the ones who assist us even today, when we are facing the hardest moments. Because God, besides sending His help through the saints, such as St. Nickolas, He also helps us through our own ancestors. Our nation has been given the dignity to have many renowned saints, and one cannot neglect even those numerous anonymous forefathers of ours who have sanctified themselves and pleased God with their lives. This village must have kept memory of some saints, unknown and invisible to us, but spiritually present here where their roots are. Now their spirits mourn, seeing us constantly moving out, leaving our thresholds, desperate because of the financial hardship and obsessed by the thought that our country cannot offer us a decent life, so we need to seek a way out. No! We just need to show a little patience, and God would reward that patience of ours for sure. Therefore let us be strong in these temptations, let’s be brave, placing our hope first in the hands of our Saviour, Lord Jesus Christ and His Most Holy Mother, Theotokos, and then also in the prayers of St. Nickolas who is a protector of your village and whom this church is dedicated to. No need to despair. You are not a small group; I see many young people among you. You can be the yeast for a future good Christian community. Your village has all the necessary conditions for it and there are so many things you can do if you only find the will for it and let God guide you. The greatest problem of our nation today is that it has lost its willpower. We have lost our hope, which means we are no longer good Christians. A good Christian never loses hope and even in the hardest moment he never surrenders, fights till the end. That’s what all the Christians throughout history did. The ones from the first centuries after Christ were subjected to such horrible torture and prosecution in the Roman Empire, and still never lost hope and didn’t despair for not having any support in this world, i.e. in the authorities of this world. Although weak, they were powerful in God and made the entire world Christian. This should be our path as well. We should testify Christ every day, just like St. Nickolas testified Him with His life and was given eternity by Him. That’s why even today his memory is so strong that people made him churches all around the world, from the East to the West, to the North and South.
In the end, I would like to mention this again – I’m endlessly grateful that you have invited me to your village. I really feel wonderful here. Though I have been invited to other villages as well, never have I seen such an eagerness for Divine service. It makes me joyous to see you strong inclination for prayer. Now that we have finished the first part of the Liturgy, we are to consecrate the Gifts offered and those who have prepared themselves can taste the sweetness of the eternal nourishment which is being given to us by Christ Himself. But even the rest of you present here will be spiritually nourished by the grace which is being sent from God by the Holy Wonderworker of Myra Lycia. Therefore, when you leave this church take with you his legacy as well: be brave, and patient in the temptation, don’t leave the village. Pray to our Lord and to the Sant for this village, so that it would grow bigger and prosper in nobility.
May you all be well and blessed by God!
Christ is risen!