The Word Became Flesh. Instruction on the Day of the Annunciation of the Most Holy Theotokos

Today is revealed the mystery that is from all eternity.
The Son of God becomes the Son of man…
Now God becomes man, that He may make Adam God.

Stichera at Lauds, Tone 2


The holy Church remembers and celebrates today the wondrous mystery unfathomable to mortal minds: the incarnation of the Creator of the ages and worlds—the Son of God—Who becomes Man. The uncontainable God is contained in the pure womb of the godly maiden, the fleshless is made flesh, the unoriginate is conceived, the unapproachable is become approachable, the Word takes on flesh, the infinitely great becomes small, and the limitless finds boundaries; God is comingled with people and is not ashamed to call them brethren (Heb. 2:11). Thus, the mystery hidden from the ages, and from the beginning unknown to the angels, the Son of God is now revealed, is made the Son of God, so that in accepting what is worse, that is, our nature, He gives us what is incomparably better—illumination, renewal, and deification. It is a meet to exclaim in exaltation: Let creation be glad, let all of nature jubilantly celebrate; that is, as the entire human race is vouchsafed such honor from God, so also is all creation, heaven and earth, seeing God in His measureless goodness come down to creatures, having accepted the nature of all creation for the sake of its salvation.

O mystery incomprehensible, mystery greatly joyful and exalting every spiritually understanding soul, but at the same time, a terrible mystery! Because the reason for such condescension, such diminishment, is our sins. Only the all-good, most wise and almighty God was able to devise such an extreme means of saving perished man, to thus lower Himself in order to heal us of our pride and all manner of sins by His example, and teach us humility, obedience, and every virtue. It is a mystery, I say, that is greatly joyful and exalts the soul!

How honored we all are, brothers and sisters, by the incarnation of the Son of God from the Most Pure Virgin; how glorified, gladdened, and consoled! God is with us: He has become our Intercessor, Redeemer, and Savior; the Mother of God has become our Mother by grace, our Intercessor, Defender, and Protection. Imagine what would have happened to people if the Son of God had not condescended so wondrously, so beneficently to us sinners, darkened and evilly dealt thousands of times over due to our sin and enmity with God! How poor mankind would be, how pitiful, joyless, and inconsolable with its innumerable calamities!

And now, what constant consolation for the faithful and repentant there is in the Son of God Who has become incarnate for our sakes! He is the hope, the purification, the illumination and salvation of all repentant sinners; the protection of the offended, the consolation of all who sorrow, the encouragement of the despondent, rest for those who labor and are heavy laden, the reward for those laboring ascetically, light for the darkened, strength for the infirm, a helper in good works, a co-struggler in spiritual battles, the comfort of all the righteous, and eternal life for all who believe in Him. He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live, saith the Lord (Jn. 11:25).

But the incarnation of the Son of God is a mystery both terrible and instructive, if we consider what brought Him down to such self-abasement and to what we people are called and held responsible by His incarnation. On God’s part, the reason for becoming Man was His infinite love for us, His creatures—the love of First Image for His living, rational image that was fallen and perishing; for we are His image. And on our part, the reason is our sins, our terrible fall, our inescapable eternal destruction.

Thus, what does the incarnation of the Son of God require of us? Unhesitating, sincere, unhypocritical and firm repentance of all our sins, the correction of our hearts, and a righteous, holy life. Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy (Lev. 19: 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). That this is precisely what the Lord Jesus Christ requires of us that is, holiness and righteousness, you can be assured of daily by the Lord’s Prayer itself, in which He the Lord teaches us first of all to pray that we might live holily and righteously according to God’s will and not our own: “Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Lk. 11:2–4; Mt. 6:9–10).

Thus, this is the indispensable obligation that the incarnation of the Son of God places upon us, brothers and sisters: to live righteously and holily, reverently and honestly, and to depart from all sin, all unrighteousness and impurity. Otherwise, we will be unworthy of the Son of God and His Kingdom, and prepare for ourselves the most onerous condemnation both here and in eternity. Amen.

St. John of Kronstadt
Translation by Nun Cornelia (Rees)


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