We hear in today’s Gospel, the Gospel for Sunday from Luke chapter 8, the Parable of the Sower. In this parable the Lord illustrates four different types of people. Three of these types of people – those on the way, those on the rock, and those in the thorns, do not bring forth any fruit from the sowing. Only those on the ground, that is, those with rich soil, bring forth fruit and are saved. What is this seed which is being sown? It is the Word of God, yes, in one sense being the good news of salvation, the Gospel itself, but what is the seed in essence? Is it not love – pure, undefiled, unmingled, personal, all-powerful, life-creating Divine love? When we love or perform acts of love, this love is often tainted, mingled together with some self-interest, with some vanity, with some vainglory, with some critical remarks or condescension. Not so with the love of God. The love of God is completely selfless and pure. The sower is sowing these seeds, and on each of these tiny seeds, sown ever so subtly, is written the phrase: I love you my child. And how is this seed of the love of God sown? If our eyes are open, we will see clearly that it is sown in a million different ways every day. Let’s begin with nature – is not the beauty of the natural world a seed, or rather many seeds, sown through our physical senses and containing the message of God’s love? The symphony of colors in the Fall, the complexity of the design of our own bodies, every cell, every molecule with its combination of elements in precise arrangements working together to give us breath and continued life, the elegance of the lines drawn across the sweeping ridges and valleys in a snow-capped mountain range, and something not often studied except in specialized courses, the awe-inspiring crystal structure and chemistry of thousands of different minerals existing on the planet where we live – these are all seeds of love, messages from God about his love for us. Often people create music with Divine inspiration which communicates the love of God and sows the seeds of love in our hearts. They write poetry and prose which, by some remarkable phenomenon, has an effect not just on the eyes which read the words or the ears which hear, but upon the very consciousness of a man. This faculty of speech, and the understanding of speech, is itself a miracle, by which words are translated into thoughts and impressions, affecting the mind and heart. Christ has been sowing these seeds of love in His creation forever and continues to do so now, every day. But how do we respond? The appropriate response to this Divine love is to give love in return, to arrange everything in our life, from our thoughts to our actions to our future plans, as a loving response to this outpouring of love from the Sower, Christ. In Proverbs God speaks to man through the Prophet and says “Son, give me your heart.” And this is what he says to all of us. Son, give me your heart. Daughter, give me your heart. My child, my little one, my unique creation, give me your heart. To be the one whose seed takes hold, the one on the ground whose soil brings forth fruit, is simply to be the one who responds to this command, “give me your heart” with a profound “Yes” and repeats this answer every hour of every day. Today we celebrate the memory of St. John of Kronstadt, and this righteous father and all-Russian pastor is the perfect example of this response. In his writings we can see how he struggled with every thought, with every question, all his responses to God and man completely bathed in the light of love, this loving response which we speak of today. Remembering St. John of Kronstadt, let us consider what amazing things are possible when one person, against all the influence of the world around him, once and for all determines his life’s course based on one single goal – total surrender to the love of God, the Sower Christ, who even now sows His seeds of love in our hearts. Amen.
On this Sunday we celebrate the Synaxis of the Holy Unmercenary Healers, or, as they are also called, the “physicians without silver.” They are those saints who, out of pure love of God and neighbor, healed the sick and mended the souls of others while asking nothing in return. It was a pure self-sacrifice born out of love. Today we remember the great saints Cyrus and John, Tryphon, Artemius, and the others, as well as Cosmas and Damian, who lived and were martyred in Roman times. And of course, we also remember and honor our great patron, the martyr and healer Panteleimon.