The Word Became Flesh

A Sermon on the Nativity of Christ by St John of Kronstadt

Nativity of the SaviorThe Word became flesh; that is, the Son of God, co-eternal with God the Father and with the Holy Spirit, became human – having become incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary. O, wondrous, awesome and salvific mystery! The One Who had no beginning took on a beginning according to humanity; the One without flesh assumed flesh. God became man – without ceasing to be God. The Unapproachable One became approachable to all, in the aspect of a humble servant. Why, and for what reason, was there such condescension [shown] on the part of the Creator toward His transgressing creatures – toward humanity which, through an act of its own will had fallen away from God, its Creator?

It was by reason of a supreme, inexpressible mercy toward His creation on the part of the Master, Who could not bear to see the entire race of mankind – which, He, in creating, had endowed with wondrous gifts – enslaved by the devil and thus destined for eternal suffering and torment.

And the Word became flesh!...in order to make us earthly beings into heavenly ones, in order to make sinners into saints; in order to raise us up from corruption into incorruption, from earth to heaven; from enslavement to sin and the devil – into the glorious freedom of children of God; from death – into immortality, in order to make us sons of God and to seat us together with Him upon the Throne as His royal children.

O, boundless compassion of God! O, inexpressible wisdom of God! O, great wonder, astounding not only the human mind, but the angelic [mind] as well!
Let us glorify God! With the coming of the Son of God in the flesh upon the earth, with His offering Himself up as a sacrifice for the sinful human race, there is given to those who believe the blessing of the Heavenly Father, replacing that curse which had been uttered by God in the beginning; they are adopted and receive the promise of an eternal inheritance of life. To a humanity orphaned by reason of sin, the Heavenly Father returns anew through the mystery of re-birth, that is, through baptism and repentance. People are freed of the tormenting, death-bearing authority of the devil, of the afflictions of sin and of various passions.

Human nature is deified for the sake of the boundless compassion of the Son of God; and its sins are purified; the defiled are sanctified. The ailing are healed. Upon those in dishonour are boundless honour and glory bestowed.

Those in darkness are enlightened by the Divine light of grace and reason.

The human mind is given the rational power of God – we have the mind of Christ (Cor. 2, 16), says the Holy apostle Paul. To the human heart, the heart of Christ is given. The perishable is made immortal. Those naked and wounded by sin and by passions are adorned in Divine glory. Those who hunger and thirst are sated and assuaged by the nourishing and soul-strengthening Word of God and by the most pure Body and Divine Blood of Christ. The inconsolable are consoled. Those ravaged by the devil have been – and continue to be – delivered.

What, then, O, brethren, is required of us in order that we might avail ourselves of all the grace brought unto us from on high by the coming to earth of the Son of God? What is necessary, first of all, is faith in the Son of God, in the Gospel as the salvation-bestowing heavenly teaching; a true repentance of sins and the correction of life and of heart; communion in prayer and in the Mysteries [sacraments]; the knowledge and fulfillment of Christ’s commandments. Also necessary are the virtues: Christian humility, almsgiving, continence, purity and chastity, simplicity and goodness of heart.

Let us, then, O brothers and sisters, bring these virtues as a gift to the One Who was born for the sake of our salvation – let us bring them in place of the gold, frankincense and myrrh which the Magi brought Him, as to One Who is King, God, and Man, come to die for us. This, from us, shall be the most-pleasing form of sacrifice to God and to the Infant Jesus Christ.

Amen.

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Teachings of Christ

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40 ESV)

Scripture

May 20, 2018
Pentecost - Feast of the Descent of the Holy Spirit
- Vespers: Numbers 11:16,17,24-29, Joel 2:23-32, Ezekiel 36:24-28
- Matins: John 20:19-23
- Liturgy: Acts 2:1-11, John 7:37-52; 8:12

First Week After Pentecost
- Monday: Feast of the Holy Spirit, Ephesians 5:8b-19, Matthew 18:10-20
- Tuesday: Romans 1:1-7,13-17, Mathew 4:25-5:13
- Wednesday: Romans 1:18-27, Matthew 5:20-26
- Thursday: Romans 1:28-2:9, Matthew 5:27-32
- Friday: Romans 2:14-29, Matthew 5:33-41
- Saturday: Romans 1:7-12, Matthew 5:42-48

May 27, 2018
First Sunday After Pentecost: Sunday of All Saints
- Vespers: Isaiah 43:9-14, Wisdom 3:1-9, Wisdom 5:15-6:3
- Matins: Matthew 28:16-20 (Gospel 1)
- Liturgy: Hebrews 11:323-12:2a; Matthew 10:32;33,37,38;19:27-30

Second Week After Pentecost
- Monday: Romans 2:28-3:18, Matthew 6:31-34; 7:9-11
- Tuesday: Romans 4:4-12, Matthew 7:15-21
- Wednesday: Romans 4:13-25, Matthew 7:21-23
- Thursday: Romans 5:10-16, Matthew 8:23-27
- Friday: Romans 5:17-6:2, Matthew 9:14-17
- Saturday: Romans 3:19-26, Matthew 7:1-8

June 3, 2018
Second Sunday After Pentecost
- Matins: Mark 16:1-8 (Gospel 2)
- Liturgy: Romans 2:10-16, Matthew 4:18-23

Feasts & Fasts

May
3 - National Day of Prayer
6 - Sixth Sunday of Pascha (Man Born Blind)
10 - Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ
13 - Seventh Sunday of Pascha (Holy Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council)
19 - Fifth All-Souls Saturday
20 - Pentecost - Descent of the Holy Spirit
21 - Feast of the Holy Trinity, Victoria Day (Canada)
27 - All Saints Sunday

May 28 - June 28 - The Apostles' Fast

28- Memorial Day (USA)

June
24 - Nativity of the Holy Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John
29 - The Holy Glorious and All-Praised Leaders of the Apostles, Peter & Paul

Please pray!

"They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword...." (Hebrews 11:37a)

Please lift up in prayer all those who are persecuted and deprived of liberty, everywhere in the world. Please especially remember the peoples of Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Niger - the whole Middle East and Africa - who are literal martyrs for Christ. Also the peoples of Ukraine. They are our brothers, for all are one in Christ.

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Pentecost

Blessed are You, O Christ our God, * Who has shown the fishermen to be all wise, * by sending down to them the Holy Spirit, * and through them You have caught the whole world in Your net. * O Lover of Mankind, glory to You. (Troparion - Tone 8)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

When the Most High descended, confusing tongues, * He divided the nations; * but when He distributed the tongues of fire, * He called all to unity; * and, with one voice, * we glorify the Most Holy Spirit. (Kontakion - Tone 8)

Random Proverb

"The wage of the righteous leads to life, the gain of the wicked to sin." (Proverbs 10:10 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

For to despise the present age, not to love transitory things, unreservedly to stretch out the mind in humility to God and our neighbor, to preserve patience against offered insults and, with patience guarded, to repel the pain of malice from the heart, to give one's property to the poor, not to covet that of others, to esteem the friend in God, on God's account to love even those who are hostile, to mourn at the affliction of a neighbor, not to exult in the death of one who is an enemy, this is the new creature whom the Master of the nations seeks with watchful eye amid the other disciples, saying:"If, then, any be in Christ a new creature, the old things are passed away. Behold all things are made new" (2 Cor. 5:17). 

St. Gregory the Great