A Sermon by St John of Kronstadt on the Nativity of Christ
The Word became flesh; that is, the Son of God, co-eternal with God the Father andwith the Holy Spirit, became human – having become incarnate of the Holy Spirit andthe Virgin Mary. O, wondrous, awesome and salvific mystery! The One Who had nobeginning took on a beginning according to humanity; the One without flesh assumedflesh. God became man – without ceasing to be God. The Unapproachable Onebecame approachable to all, in the aspect of an humble servant. Why, and for whatreason, was there such condescension [shown] on the part of the Creator toward Histransgressing creatures – toward humanity which, through an act of its own will hadfallen away from God, its Creator?
It was by reason of a supreme, inexpressible mercy toward His creation on the part ofthe Master, Who could not bear to see the entire race of mankind – which, He, increating, had endowed with wondrous gifts – enslaved by the devil and thus destined foreternal suffering and torment.
And the Word became flesh!...in order to make us earthly beings into heavenly ones, inorder to make sinners into saints; in order to raise us up from corruption intoincorruption, from earth to heaven; from enslavement to sin and the devil – into theglorious freedom of children of God; from death – into immortality, in order to make ussons 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, withHis offering Himself up as a sacrifice for the sinful human race, there is given to thosewho believe the blessing of the Heavenly Father, replacing that curse which had beenuttered by God in the beginning; they are adopted and receive the promise of an eternalinheritance of life. To a humanity orphaned by reason of sin, the Heavenly Fatherreturns 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 afflictionsof 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 indishonour 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. Theperishable is made immortal. Those naked and wounded by sin and by passions areadorned in Divine glory. Those who hunger and thirst are sated and assuaged by thenourishing and soul-strengthening Word of God and by the most pure Body and DivineBlood 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 thegrace brought unto us from on high by the coming to earth of the Son of God? What isnecessary, 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 andfulfillment of Christʼs commandments. Also necessary are the virtues: Christian humility,alms-giving, 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 wasborn for the sake of our salvation – let us bring them in place of the gold, frankincenseand myrrh which the Magi brought Him, as to One Who is King, God, and Man, come todie for us. This, from us, shall be the most-pleasing form of sacrifice to God and to theInfant Jesus Christ.