Антоний, митрополит Су́рожский


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Baptism of Christ

18 January 1977

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

Since the Incarnation of our Lord and God in the coming upon earth of the Holy One of Israel time and eternity are no longer divided, the fullness of eternity runs through time as the presence of God is there in our midst, and time is carried on the waves of eternity. The feasts of the Church in which we remember the turning points of the history of salvation are not moments when we merely remember what once was. The events of salvation hurried in the depths of the Divine Eternity become facts of history which belong(s) simultaneously to the Eternal Now of God and to the time in which we live. And all of them, when we keep them in the Church are not events which we remember, but events at which we are present, moments of salvation which come upon us with the overwhelming power of salvation.

We keep today the memory of the feast of the Baptism of Christ. It is one of the most tragic and the most glorious feast (?) of the Lord. On the night of His Incarnation God became man in answer to the cry and the prayer, the longing and the despair and the hope of mankind throughout the ages. God entered into history by an act divine, and the /very borned/ (?) in Bethleem was brought forth as a victim, was born unto death by an act of God in response to a need of men.

On the day of His Baptism the Lord in His humanity takes upon Himself what was laid upon Him by the divine wisdom, in His compassionate and sacrificial love. Christ comes to the banks of Jordan; He meets there crowds of people who at the words of John the Baptist repented of their sins, turned away from evil and washed their sins and their evils in the water of Jordan, and these waters became heavy with the sins of man, with the evil of the earth, became heavy with the deadening, murderous mortality of man.

And Christ, pure of sin, free of sin, comes to John the Baptist. He also asks for baptism, and how could John the Baptist not wonder, seeing the One Who is without sin coming to perform a rite of cleansing? But it is not a rite of cleansing of Himself which Christ has come to perform. He is merged into these waters of death like a cloak is merged into a dye, and He emerges out of them loaded, dyed with the sins of man, with the mortality of mankind resulting from it and from our Godlessness. Immortal and pure, He enters into the waters of Jordan; pure but now doomed to death because He had taken upon Himself our sins, He emerges out of these waters and starts on His ministry.

This is a moment when the man Jesus in the sovereign freedom of unstained mankind accepts the divine providential will, makes His own the divine sacrificial love and takes upon Himself our human destiny which will culminate in the agony of the Garden, into the dereliction of the Cross, into His physical death and His descent into Hell, into the place of the divine absence which He will fill with the presence of God which He is.

Let us reverently be present at this feast, it is a moment when the Only Man who ever was, the Only Man who was worthy of His glorious title of Man, takes upon Himself in total, complete harmony with the will of God, unreserved obedience and enters into the total sacrifice of His life for our sins, for ourselves. Glory be to Him.

Let us truly worship this sacrificial love and let us follow in His steps. Only by doing so shall we become Christians, and only then shall oneness be given to all those who claim to be His followers, all those, who like us, worship Him, love Him, and yet remain so far from the greatness of His love and the generosity of His heart. Amen

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