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Homily on the feast of Annunciation by Saint John of Kronstadt
A wondrous mystery, unimaginable to human mind, is commemorated and celebrated today by the Holy Church: the incarnation of the Creator of ages and worlds - the Son of God. The unencompassable God is encompassed within the virginal womb of the Holy Maiden, the bodiless One takes on a body, the infinite One is made finite, the inaccessible One becomes accessible, the Word becomes flesh, the infinitely great One becomes reduced, and the unlimited One becomes limited; God merges with men and He is not ashamed to call them brethren (Heb. 2:11). Thus, the mystery concealed for ages, hidden from the very beginning, and unknown to the angels is now revealed, and the Son of God becomes the Son of man, so that having taken on the worse, i.e. our nature, He can give us the infinitely better, i.e. sanctification, renewal, deification. Now is the time to cry out rapturously: may creation rejoice, may all nature joyously celebrate, i.e. all of mankind, dignified by such honor from God, as well as all creatures, the heavens and the earth, seeing how God in His infinite mercy has come down to His creation and has taken on the nature of this creation for the sake of its salvation.
O incomprehensible mystery, a most joyous mystery, filling every spiritually sentient soul with delight, but at the same time a most awesome mystery! For the reason for such compassion, for such self-depletion are our sins. Only the All-benevolent, All-wise, and Omnipotent God could come up with such an extreme means of salvation of fallen mankind, and so deplete Himself in order to cure us of pride and all our sins by His example, and teach us humility, obedience, and all manner of virtue. As I said - a joyous and soul-inspiring mystery!
How all of us have been honored, dear brethren, by the Son of God's incarnation from the Holy Virgin, how dignified, comforted, filled with joy! God is with us: He has become our Intercessor, Redeemer, Saviour; the Mother of God has become our mother in grace, our Intercessor, Defender, Protector. Just imagine what would have become of mankind, if the Son of God had not come down so wonderfully, so magnanimously to us sinners, depressed and a thousand times ill-fated because of our sins and confrontation with God! How poor would mankind be, how pitiful, how joyless, how comfortless in the midst of its innumerable woes!
And now - how much daily comfort there is for the faithful and the penitent in the Son of God Who has become incarnate for us! He is the hope, the purification, the sanctification of all repentant sinners, the protector of all who are aggrieved, the succor of all who sorrow, the consolation of all who despair, the relief of all who are burdened and weary, the reward of all who labor spiritually, the light of all who are in darkness, the strength of all who are failing, the helper in all good deeds, the comrade-in-arms in all spiritual warfare, the solace of all the righteous, the eternal life of all who believe in Him. He that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live, - says the Lord (John 11:25).
But the incarnation of the Son of God is simultaneously an awesome mystery and an instructive one, if we ponder upon what led the Son of God to such self-depletion, and to what we, mankind, are summoned and bound by the incarnation of the Son of God. On God's part the reason for the incarnation was His boundless love for us, His creation, - the love of the Prototype for His living, speaking image that had fallen and is perishing, while on our part - it was our sins, our terrible fall, our inevitable eternal damnation.
Thus, what does the incarnation of the Son of God demand from us? Immediate, sincere, unhypocritical, and firm repentance of all our sins, correction of our hearts, and a holy and righteous life. Be ye holy as I, your God, am holy. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty (2 Cor. 6:17-18). We are daily assured that this, i.e. holiness and truth, is what the Lord Jesus Christ demands from us by the Lord's Prayer, in which He teaches us to pray first and foremost that we may live righteously by the will of God and not by our own will: Hallowed be Thy name, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Such is the supreme responsibility which the incarnation of the Son of God places upon us, dear brethren: to live in righteousness and holiness, piously and honestly, and to shun all sin, all untruth and iniquity, else we shall be unworthy of the Son of God and of His Kingdom, and will subject ourselves to a most heavy condemnation, both here and in eternity. Amen. Saint John of Kronstadt.
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