The light of the unquenchable lamps

Today my dear ones we have heard from the Holy Gospel how our Lord Jesus Christ teaches the Apostles, and through them all of us, telling them: 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). What exactly is the Savior teaching us? He is inviting the Christians to perform deeds of Divine light and through them to testify in the world our Father Who is in Heaven. Because only by doing good, by the deeds of light, our life becomes a preaching for the Father of love and light. One of the most frequent defining expressions for God is the word light. God is light. In the service on the day of Pentecost we sing: ”Light is the Father, light is the Son and light is the Holy Spirit too…” But what about us? Could we call ourselves light as well? Not in any case, of course. However, the more we come closer to the light of His love, completely giving in to Him and working hard in the fit and deeds of love, the more we would be enlightened by His light, could call ourselves disciples, bearers of the Light, and spread it all over this world darkened by sins.

Today we celebrate the memory of the two Equal to the Apostles Saints, who flashed with this Divine light among the Slavic nations and became our unquenchable lamps that would shine amidst the nations as long as the world exists. Those are the two worthy Disciples of Christ – the Light and Love – our Holy Fathers Cyril and Methodius. From their lives we have learned many things about them. They descended from a noble family, their education was particularly noble – their God loving parents raised them in the Christian faith from very young age. Their education was the highest possible of that time. Still they didn’t want a worldly carrier and fame, but got to love something else, much more elevated. St. Methodius distinguished himself with great knowledge of the legal science and of military skills. He was such a good lawyer that he was once assigned by the byzantine authorities to be a magistrate of one of the Slavic territories. But the worldly power and its possibilities did not attract his God – thirsty heart. After a while he left the world to become a monk in the Polychron monastery on Mt. Olympus, where he later became an Abbot, refusing previously the archiereic dignity. His brother Constantine was more a man of word – a philosopher and a librarian of the great Patriarchal library in St. Sophia. When the nobles of the Emperor wanted to get him married, he answered with Divine wisdom: “I have already married the sublime philosophy, the wisdom of God, the Logos.” Just like his brother, he too longed to become a monk, left everything earthly behind him, didn’t want to make a carrier here on Earth. He simply knew that here everything is temporary and only Christ is eternal. Therefore he was eager to adopt His science, to care for the salvation of his soul, and while striving at it, had saved and still saves many other souls. There is an interesting story from his life, when he was still a child. At that time the children of the rich parents entertained themselves by hunting hawks. While hunting in one occasion, by Gods providence, strong wind took the young Constantine’s hawk away. For two whole days the little boy grieved and cried and ate nothing. However, raised by his parents in the wisdom of Christ, he contemplated on the vanity of this life and told himself: “Is this what life is like, instead of joy only sadness in it? From this day on I will take another, a better path than this one and would not spend my days in the vanities of this life”. Thus, He really spent his entire life in unity with Christ. Not even on the royal court did he smear his soul with anything, but rather his eyes were always turned towards the heavenly philosophy. Latter, as we all know, he and his brother were sent by the great and Holy Patriarch Photius of Constantinople and the Emperor Michael, as if lambs among wolfs, to our ancestors the Slavs, who at that time were uncivilized, wild and barbarians. Because without the Evangelical teaching, without the One Who came to recreate the world distorted by sin, people are really like barbarians, they are shapeless, don’t have the image of the inner man. That is why our Holy Equal to the Apostles Saints, the undying lights of our spiritual culture and literacy, called the science with the general name – enlightenment. Since, an educated person is the one who has the image of God Logos in himself. It seemed right, when they finished the hard work of inventing the Glagolitsa (Glagolitic) alphabet, that the first thing translated in it should be from the Holy Gospel, namely: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1, 1). They showed the world and the entire mankind, that really educated person is only the one who has accepted the Gospel for an example in his life, the one who knows and lives according to the Divine Revelation. Such man truly becomes an image and likeness of God. Yes, the first pages of the Holy Bible tell us that man is created according to the Divine image and likeness (Genesis 1, 26), but the sin has distorted this original similarity of man to God. The image of God has darkened in man, while as his likeness to God has been completely violated. In order to regain our Divine likeness, we should educate ourselves in a proper way, or as the great Apostle Paul has said: And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. (Ephesians 4, 24), the way our Savior Christ Who came to recreate and save humanity, intended us to.

Behold what darkness the world is without the Light – Christ! How uneducated man is, no  matter how many knowledge of this world he has acquired; he might have as much as ten academic degrees with the highest marks – but still, all that would only be a sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal (I Corinthians 13,1), if he didn’t, above all, perceive the real Divine Revelation. The only God – revealed faith: The infinite Father and the sent by Him eternal Son, and the equal in nature Holy Spirit Who emanates from the Father…

Let us pray to our Lead teachers, the Holy Equal to the Apostles Cyril and Methodius, who have accepted the light of Christ in their lives and enlightened with it almost whole Europe and even wider. They were strong in faith, giants of the spirit! “Who could express a worthy praise to you?” – wonders their disciple St. Clement of Ohrid. “After you have passed the entire world on foot, you have fully consecrated it”. Actually we are all invited to be bearers of the Divine light. The mission of the Holy Brothers is not something that happened and ended in history. Seeing the spiritual ignorance in and around us, we too should, through prayer, contemplation and deeds of love, continue their mission of shaping our souls in God, and along with it, the souls of our neighbors.

May the Saints Cyril and Methodius help us always to perfect ourselves in the faith and in the Holy Gospel of Christ. May they help us build this church and send their heavenly blessing to our donors – the noble Dzikovski family, who are here with us, today. Last year when we served the first Liturgy here I mentioned it and now I will repeat: Although these people are not the richest ones in Macedonia, still they are trying with great faith and love to build this church in honor of our Holy Equal to the Apostles. Let this deed of theirs be an example for all of us!

In the end I would like to thank the members of the “St. Nectarious of Bitola” choir from Bitola who have enriched this glorious celebration with their prayerful chanting!

May the prayers and the blessing of Saints Cyril and Methodius be with all of you! Amen!