“AND THE WORD BECAME FLESH.”
Homily for the feast of Annunciation.
Annunciation of the Theotokos
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
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
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