“An Invincible Shield of Holiness”

During the liturgy for the feast of St. Herman of Alaska, Fr. Matthew Howell uses as a basis for his sermon a line from one of the Old Testament readings from Great Vespers the evening before:  “He shall take holiness for an invincible shield” (Wisdom of Solomon 5:19). Fr. Matthew talks about how St. Herman, in the austere setting of Alaska, took holiness for an invincible shield against all sorts of enemies and sufferings. Fr. Matthew points out that we can take the shield of holiness by living out St. Herman’s most famous saying: “From this day, from this hour, from this minute, let us love God above all else and strive to follow His holy will.”

Galatians 5:22-6:2

Brethren, the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such there is no law.  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.  Let us have no self-conceit, no provoking of one another, no envy of one another.  Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.  Look to yourself, lest you too be tempted.  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Luke 6:17-23

At that time, Jesus stood on a level place, with a great crowd of His Disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured.  And all the crowd sought to touch Him, for power came forth from Him and healed them all.  And Jesus lifted up His eyes on His Disciples, and said: “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.  Blessed are you that hunger now, for you shall be satisfied.  Blessed are you that weep now, for you shall laugh.  Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of man!  Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in Heaven.”