The Parable of the Rich and Lazarus. About revolutions. Sermon of His Beatitude Metropolitan Vitaly (Ustinov)

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Today, our Lord Jesus Christ offers us in his Gospel the Parable of the Rich and the Poor Man.

There was a certain rich man, who daily feasted with a multitude of guests, and enjoyed his wealth, and lived comfortably. And at the very entrance to his palace, there was a beggar who was lying, covered with all sorts of sores. And, says the Gospel, even the dogs licked his pus. And he was glad of the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table.

And their fate was that when the beggar died, he was exalted by the angels, and was honored to be in the bosom of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

And when the rich man died, the Gospel says simply: "and was buried," that is, was put in the ground. We must carefully consider every word of the Scripture. Every word of the Holy Scriptures - both of the Old and the New Testament - is the absolute truth. You can not change anything in it, not a single letter, not a single comma; everything in it is inspired by the Holy Spirit, and everything has immense meaning.

Well, beloved brethren, this is a painful issue - the rich and the poor. You know how unfairly, how terribly Marx had exploited these sore points; and the Communists followed him. And our poor Russian people have also rushed into this madness. Well, at the beginning, of course; now they are repenting, for a long time they have been repentant.  However, at the time they had rushed into this delusion.

[ Those exploiting ] the issue of the rich and the poor have neglected the most important subject - a man.

When the two brothers came to the Lord and asked the Lord that he help them to share the estate that they inherited, the Lord said, " who made me a judge or a divider over you?" (St. Luke 12:14). But have love, and love will divide your inheritance.

And so, beloved brothers and sisters, the most important subject -  a man - is being forgotten. The principal teaching is forgotten. Both, the West, and us also, have forgotten that the man was [originally] created by God as perfect, holy, immortal.

How can this be understood now? We see millions of funeral processions every day, when they go to the cemetery and dig in, bury millions, millions of people, so we'll soon be walking, probably on the ashes our ancestors, great-grandfathers. So many people have died. Billions of people have died since then, and every bit of land contains, probably, some kind of dust - from someone. And we, of course, can not even understand [now] that a man was created as a saint and as an immortal, that is absolutely immortal.

But the man had sinned i. And, having sinned, he fell, he fell terribly, he became completely distorted. And we have totally forgotten this.

There were two revolutions - the French and ours. In order to start one, to get the French people to rear up and to start cutting heads with guillotines, it was first necessary to convey the idea that "a person is good in himself", that he is not in need of any correction ii. Once this idea is accepted, what's next? Nothing: there is no need for churches, nor monasteries, nor monks, nor kings; no one needs those who have been helping the Church to correct a person. If a man is good, you do not need to fix him. And all these correctional institutions, from king to churches and monasteries, need to be destroyed! Well, they have been destroyed ... And what's left was the unhappy, naked man. Full of destructive passions, spoiled to the core!

They have completely forgotten about a man.

The same thing happened in our homeland. Tolstoy, and all sorts of other teachers have appeared, preaching the same idea that "a man himself is good". But he is not good at all... He needs not only the forgiveness of sins, which we commit all the time (and we then repent; we confess - and this is necessary). But the purpose of the coming of the Savior is not so that we repent of our sins, but that we may be reborn. And this is much more serious, it is much deeper!

The task that we have is to be reborn. To throw our corrupted man off ourselves, completely. And this is a huge task! And for such a task, even God came down from heaven: our Lord Jesus Christ, the second person of the Holy Trinity - has incarnated into man, has accepted all human nature from the Mother of God.

Only God Himself can help us to be reborn. For this, He has created His Church. For this we commune, we confess. But the main goal is to be reborn. That is, to be born one person, and to become a completely different person by the time we come to our grave. Of course, we will preserve the external appearance. But the internal appearance will be completely different. So much so that we will not be recognizable by our manners, our habits, our words; we will not be recognizable because each will become another person.

It is for this that the life on Earth is given! This is the only meaning of life on Earth -  and it is to be used daily, hourly, every minute, every second - to be reborn. This is its spiritual meaning.

Have we all forgotten this? No, we have not forgotten; the Church remembers this always. But the mass of people being under the influence of all kinds of propaganda, all kinds of madness, has forgotten this. But of course, then, if a person is good, as they say, then what is the matter? Give him only a good program, and everything will be fine. And then they come up with programs, teachings; and all kinds of Marxes appear on Earth. There are endless sectarians, and all come up with new religions, and offer those to people.

Poor people! Our miserable mankind! Deluded by such a chaff!  Deceived over such a rubbish, such nonsense, accepting all sorts of lies! And thus depriving themselves of the opportunity to be reborn, to be born again.

But a man is such, that no matter how good the programs offered to him, he will spoil everything. He had spoiled the monarchy in our country; and he had spoiled the republic. He will spoil anything!

Because he, [the man], was forgotten. No one is providing him a rebirth. No one is offering him to become better!

Moreover, offering a man to become better is not enough. For this, special means are necessary; some power is required! Even if someone will say something helpful to me, so what? If he will not help me, I'll stay in the same state. The sectarians also say and propose good things; but an offer of something is incomplete by itself. Without real help, all efforts to implement this, so-called good program of theirs, will end up in nothing.

For that reason, only the Christ's Church has these two means.

[Firstly,] an absolutely ideal doctrine of Christ, laid out in the Gospel, in all of the Holy Scriptures.

And secondly, it provides the power to put into life these words of the Gospel! No one on Earth gives this power. No institution can! No one, no sect, not the Catholic church, not the Protestant church, not the all these so-called churches, which we do not refuse to call churches, but internally we know that they are not churches. They are organizations in the name of Christ, but not of the Church.

The Church has this exclusive property - to correctly teach and to give the powers to every person to transform this teaching into life! This - is the Church.

And only that Church is the True Church - the Orthodox Church, which has these two properties: the Divine powers, and the wisdom of the Gospel to turn this teaching into life. [And this can only be done by] the inward, invisible power of the Holy Spirit, which only the Orthodox Church gives - to you - in all the sacraments.

Communion, confession and all the sacraments give you this invisible power so that the words of the Gospel can be turned into life.

If not for this second power that assists us, the Gospel would be a disheartening iii [i] book. The most discouraging book. Because, on one hand, it offers such a wonderful teaching! And on the other hand, if there would be no help, people would come to despair, seeing such an ideal and looking at it with hopelessness. This is what we often hear from both Catholics and Protestants: "Well, what's the use? It's impossible to fulfill." Yes, for them it is impossible. But for us, having the fullness of God's Grace, this is quite possible.

Now, beloved brothers and sisters, all these teachings, all the socialisms, communisms, all these "isms" - they are worthless, because a man has been left out of the picture. You must first make a person good! So that he gets changed. And then offer him the teachings. And he will see which one is right and which one is wrong. And then he will implement it. Because he will already be good. And who will make him good, kind, righteous? Only the grace of the Holy Spirit and the Gospel, when understood correctly.

Here, beloved brothers and sisters, the question is settled. We suffered from every kind of communism. But finally we are getting away, thank God, from this illness. But we were sick. Communism has decided that it is the most perfect teaching. The most perfect. But then it sees that people do not understand it. So, then the people are bad. And they have wiped out sixty million people. They killed them. Because they were unable to understand communism. And if you count what the Communists have done all over the world, then probably the total number will reach two hundred million or more. This is because they were unable to understand such an "ideal teaching". What is this teaching that kills, because you can not accept it?

And the same goes for other teachings, beloved brethren and sisters,  they are all worthless.

There is one true Christ's Church, which teaches the truth and gives the invisible, all-powerful grace of the Holy Spirit, so that the teaching of the Christ's Church can be realized.




[ i ]  The Adam (Here and further - editor's notes.)

[ ii ]  The groundwork for the French Revolution was prepared by the development of ideas of humanism in Western Europe. "Humanism (from Latin humanitas - humanity, humanus - human, homo - man) - a worldview that affirms the value of a person as a person, his right to freedom, happiness, development." At the same time, humanism denies the fallen state of any born human, as well as the need for his rebirth; the restoration of the original image of Adam (before the fall) with the help of the Church and the sacraments.

[ iii ]  Meaning that this book would carry only fear and horror from the expectation of the imminent sentence of punishment at the Last Judgment - to any person, since no one would be able to fulfill the unattainable demands of the New Testament by himself.