You ask: ‘O, Lord, our Lord, is it really easy to be persecuted? Is it really easy to go through the narrow door and down the stony path?’ You ask with confusion, perhaps doubt sneaks into your hearts: ‘Is Christ’s yoke really easy?‘ And I am telling you: Yes, yes! It is easy, extremely easy. But why easy? Why is it easy to follow Him upon the thorny path? Because you will not be alone, exhausted, but Christ Himself will be accompanying you; because His endless Grace will strengthen your force when you struggle under His yoke, under His burden, because He Himself will support you, will help you to carry this burden, this cross.
I am speaking to you not only out of reason, but of my own experience – for I have to confess that when I was treading a very difficult path, when I was carrying Christ’s heavy burden, it was not at all heavy and that path was a path filled with joy, because I could really feel that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself was walking by my side and supported my burden and my cross. It was a heavy burden that one, but I recall it as a bright joy, as a great mercy from God – because God’s Grace pours down richly on anyone carrying Christ’s burden. This is because Christ’s burden is inseparable from Christ’s Grace, because Christ does not let alone those who have lifted up the cross and follow Him, He does not leave them without His support, but He walks by their side, He bears their cross, He strengthens them with His Grace.
Remember His holy words, for great truth lies within: My yoke is easy and My burden is light. All of you who have believed in Him are called by Christ to follow Him by lifting up His burden, His yoke. Therefore, do not be afraid, do follow Him, follow Him boldly. Do not be afraid of the terrors the devil threatens you with, which strives to turn you away from walking this path. Spit at the devil, chase him away with Christ’s Cross, with His Name. Lift up your eyes to the heavens and you will see the Lord Jesus Christ Himself walking by your side, relieving your yoke and your burden. Amen.
Homily of January 28, 1951 of Saint Hierarch Luke of Crimea
The Holy Hierarch Luke of Crimea (1877 – 1961) was ordained a priest at mature age in full Bolshevik terror, having been already highly esteemed as a surgeon for his discoveries. A widower with four children, despite communist threats, he insists on appearing at conferences and in the operating theatre with his cassock on. He is marginalized and exiled to the Soviet gulag for his unwavering faithfulness. He becomes a bishop, remaining at the same time one of the greatest surgeons of his time. For his spirit of self-sacrifice in caring for the suffering, for his confessing of the true faith in times of persecution and for the wonders he worked even during his earthly life, Saint Luke was canonized by The Russian Orthodox Church.
Translated by Claudia