Антоний, митрополит Су́рожский

Week After Christmas

Newsletter N. 172, февраля, 1985

A week after Christmas 1985, января 13

In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

In imagination we think ourselves 2000 years back. What wonder should fill us: a week, and the world has become different. The world that had been for thousands of years like the lost sheep was now the sheep found, taken upon His shoulders by the Son of God become the son of man. The unbridgeable gap that sin had created between God and man was now at least incipiently bridged; God had entered into history, God Himself had become man. God had taken flesh and all things visible, what we perceive in our blindness as dead, inert matter, could in His body recognise itself in glory. Something absolutely new had occurred; the world was no longer the same.

Moreover, there is another aspect to the Incarnation. God had become man, but God in Christ had spoken words of truth that was decisive, that gradually like yeast dropped into dough was to change the world; God had revealed to us the greatness of man. Christ becoming man was evidence, is and will remain forever evidence, that man is so vast, so deep, so mysteriously deep, that he can not only contain the divine presence as a temple, but unite himself with God, “become partaker of the divine nature”, as St. Peter puts it in his Epistle. And again that man is great, and that however far we fall away from our vocation, however unworthy we мая become of it, God will never re-establish with us a relationship which is less than that of His fatherhood and our condition of sons and daughters of the Most High. The prodigal son was asking his father to receive him as a hireling now that he was unworthy of being called a son; but the father did not accept it. When the son made his confession, the father stopped him before he could even pronounce those words, because God does not accept our debasement, we are no slaves and no hirelings. Has not Christ said to His disciples, «I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know the will of his master, and lo, I have told you everything.»

Again, the proclamation in Christ and by Him that what matters supremely is every person, that He lives and dies for every one of us, that it is not collective units that matter, but each of us. Each of us, tells us the Book of Revelation, possesses for God a name, a name which will be revealed to us at the end of time, but a name which no one can know but God and he who receives it, because this name is our relationship to God, unique, unrepeatable; each of us is unique for Him. What a wonder! The ancient world knew of nations and races, it knew of slaves and owners, it knew of categories of people, exactly in the same way in which the modern world that is gradually becoming not only secular but pagan, distinguishes categories and types and groups; God knows only living men and women.

And then a new justice was introduced, or rather proclaimed by Him, not the distributive and retributive justice of the law, another justice. When Christ says to us, «let your justice be beyond that of the scribes and pharisees,» He speaks of the way in which God treats each of us. He accepts each of us as we are. He accepts good and evil, He rejoices in the good, and He dies because of and for the sake of what is evil. And that is what God calls us to remember, and how He calls us to be and to behave – not only within our Christian circle but in the whole world, to look at every person with that kind of justice; not judging and condemning, but seeing in each person the beauty which God has impressed upon it and which we call «the image of God in man». Venerate this beauty, work for this beauty to shine in all glory, dispelling what is evil and dark and making it possible, by the recognition of beauty in each other, for this beauty to become reality and to conquer.

He has taught us also about a love which the ancient world did not know, and the modern world, like the old one, is so afraid of: A love that accepted to be vulnerable, helpless, giving, sacrificial; a love that gives without counting, a love that gives not only what it possesses, but itself. That is what the Gospel., that is what the Incarnation brought into the world, and this has remained in the world. Christ said that «the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot comprehend it,» but it cannot put it out either. And this light shines and shall shine, but it will conquer only if we undertake to be its heralds and the doers of these commandments of justice and of love, if we accept God's vision of the world and bring to it our faith, that is, our certainty and our hope, which is the only power that can help others to start anew; but to start anew they must see newness in us. The world has become incipiently new by the union of God with man, when the Word became flesh; it is for us to be a revelation of this newness, the resplendence and shining of God in the darkness or the dusk of this world.

May God grant us courage and love and greatness of heart to be His messengers and His witnesses, and мая the blessing of the Lord be upon you by His grace and love towards mankind always, now and forever and world without end. Amen.


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