Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS AND IS AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ. ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
OUR SAVIOR, BOTH GOD AND MAN
[Saint Ephraim the Syrian]
We confess one and the same individual as perfect God and perfect man. He is the God and perfect man. He is God the Logos (Word) Which was flesh. For if He was not flesh, why was Mary chosen? And if He is not God, Whom does Gabriel call Lord? If He was not flesh, Who was laid in a manger? And if He is not God, whom did the Angels who came down from Heaven glorify? If He was not flesh, who was wrapped in swaddling clothes? And if He is not God, in whose honor did the star appear? If He was not flesh, whom did Simeon hold in his arms? And if He is not God, to Whom did Simeon say: Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace? If He was not flesh, whom did Joseph take when he fled into Egypt? And if He is not God, who fulfilled the prophesy: Out of Egypt have I called my Son? If He was not flesh, whom did John baptize? And if He is not God, to whom did the Father say: This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased? If He was not flesh, who hungered in the desert? If He is not God, unto whom did the Angels come and minister?...
If He was not flesh, whose garments were stripped from Him and parted by the soldiers? And if He is not God, why was the sun darkened upon His crucifixion? If He was not flesh, who was crucified on the Cross? And if He is not God, who shook the foundations of the earth? If He was not flesh, whose hands and feet were nailed to the Cross? And if He is not God, how did it happen that the veil of the temple was rent in twain, the rocks were rent, and the graves were opened? If He was not flesh, whose hung on the Cross between the two thieves? And if He is not God, how could He say to the thief: Today thou shalt be with me in paradise? If He was not flesh, who cried out and gave up the spirit? And if He is not God, whose cry caused many bodies of the Saints which slept to arise? If He was not flesh, whom did the women see laid in the grave? And if He is not God, about whom did the Angel say to them: He has arisen, He is not here? If He was not flesh, whom did Thomas touch when he put his hands into the prints of the nails? And if He is not God, who entered through the doors that were shut? If He was not flesh, who ate at the sea of Tiberias? And if He is not God, on whose orders were the nets filled with fishes? If He was not flesh, whom did the Apostles see carried up into heaven? And if He is not God, who ascended to the joyful cries of the Angels, and to whom did the Father proclaim: sit at My right hand? If He is not God and man, then, indeed, our salvation is false, and false are the pronouncements of the prophets.
On November 27th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and every righteous spirit made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Saint James the Persian; Saint Pinouphrios of Egypt; Saint James, wonderworker of Rostov; Seventeen monk holy Martyrs in India; Saint Theodosius of Turnovo; Saint Diodoros, Abbot of Yureforsk; Saint Nathanael of Egypt.
THE HOLY MARTYR JAMES THE PERSIAN. Born in the Persian town of Elapa, or Vilat, of Christian parents, he was brought up in the Christian faith and married a Christian wife. The Persian king, Yezdegeherd, loved St. James for his gifts and for his skill, and made him a noble at his court. Flattered by the king, Saint James was deluded and offered sacrifice to idols, which the king also worshipped. His mother and wife, hearing of this, wrote him a reproachful letter in which they grieved over him as an apostate and one spiritually dead, begging him at the end of the letter to repent and return to Christ. Moved by this letter, Saint James repented bitterly, and courageously confessed his faith in Christ the Lord before the king. The furious king condemned him to death, and added that his body was to be cut to pieces, little by little, until he breathed his last. The executioners fulfilled this command of the accursed king to the letter, and first cut off Saint James's fingers, then his toes, his legs and arms, his shoulders and finally his head. During the entire process, the repentant martyr gave thanks to God. A fragrance came from his wounds as of cypress. Thus this wonderful man repented of his sin, and his soul went to Christ his God in the Heavenly Kingdom. He suffered in about 400 A.D. His head is to be found in Rome, and a part of his holy relics in Portugal, where he is commemorated on May 22nd.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints and Holy Martyrs, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: 1 Timothy 1:8-14
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 19:45-48
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION
"But let every Christian man and woman ceaselessly take thought for their souls, for that unique treasure, which can save them from death and destruction. Whoever takes thought for his soul, listens to Christ's words and carries out His holy Commandments--the meek Christ helps such a man and helps him without ceasing. He watches over him as a mother over a child in a cradle. And He nourishes him and waters him day and night with His Holy Spirit. And He gives him a Guardian Angel to protect him in all the paths of life and take away his soul at the hour of death and lead it into the Heavenly Kingdom." [Saint Nikolai Velimirovich]
THE DIVINITY OF THE LOGOS [WORD]
His Eminence, Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos [source: Entering the Orthodox Church]
"And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Only-begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages. Light of Light, True God of True God; begotten, not made; of one essence with the Father, by Whom all things were made". [Creed of faith]
"And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God". The word "Lord" means "ruler" or "master", because Christ is also Lord of the world, like His Father. The Father created the world through the Son, with the co-operation of the Holy Spirit. All Three Persons uphold and rule the world, since they are equal in both honor and power. The Son is not lower than the Father; He is God. In the Creed we see that the Father is called the Almighty, the Son, Lord and the Holy Spirit also, Lord. "Jesus" means "savior" (St. Matthew 1:21) and refers to the human nature that was deified by the Divine Nature. "Christ" means the "anointed one", the "Messiah". Thus, "Lord" denotes the divine nature, "Jesus" the human nature of Christ, whereas "Christ" denotes the union of human and divine nature in the Person of the Logos [Word].
"The Son o f God". Christ is the Son of God, who was born of the Father before all ages. The Father Himself revealed this truth at the Jordan River and on Mount Tabor, when His voice was heard saying, "This is My beloved Son. Listen to him" (St. Mark 9:7).
"The Only Begotten". The Father has no other Son according to nature. He is the one. We, human beings, can also become sons of God, but according to grace. We can use an example. A father begets a child, while at the same time he adopts another. Both children live in the same home, but there is a vast difference. The first child is natural offspring, whereas the other child is adopted. This is just one image to show the difference between Christ and man.
"Begotten of the Father before all ages". We cannot understand what the birth of the Son is, or what the procession of the Holy Spirit is, by using our reason. This was revealed to us by the Son in human images. The fact of the matter is that the word "begotten" denotes the Divinity of the Logos [Word], His relationship with the Father, that He has the same essence as Him. The terms "begotten" and "proceeded" show the particular way in which the Persons of the Holy Trinity have their existence. It shows that while they have the same essence, nevertheless, they have particular attributes. The Saints understand this when they become worthy of seeing God. The same thing that we maintained in another Catechism also holds true here. We accept the revelation of Christ and the Saints and later, when we attain a personal revelation, we can come to know the relationship of the Persons of the Holy Trinity by experience.
"Light of Light". When the Saints attain the experience of the revelation, they then see that God is Light. In Church, we chant, "God is Light, the Logos is Light, the Holy Spirit is Light". This was clearly manifest at Christ's Transfiguration. The face of Christ shone from His Divinity, the Holy Spirit was present with the "bright cloud", and the Father was heard through the voice, which shed light. In liturgical texts God is hymned as Light much more often than He is as love.
This Light is Divinity. It is not created light. That is to say, it is not the light of the sun, which is created; rather, it is the Light of Divinity, which has not been created; it is uncreated. Of course, we must say that we are made worthy to partake of God's energies and not His essence. An example from sensible light: the sun lies beyond the earth's atmosphere, yet we partake of its energy. The same thing also comparatively with God. The Persons of the Holy Trinity partake of God's essence, whereas we partake of His energies; we partake of Divine Grace.
"True God of true God". The term "true God" is used in contrast to false gods. This is the faith of the Church. Many things presented and present themselves as gods, but they are not true gods, since they are fabrications of human imagination. We believe in the true God solely within the Church, because Christ revealed Him to us. For this reason, we entrust our salvation to Christ alone.
"Begotten, not made". We mentioned some things about the term "begotten" above. Here it is contrasted with the term "made", because the Arian heresy was current at the time. According to this heresy, Christ is a creature, made by God. This, however, shakes the very foundations of the faith. Being begotten is one thing, and being made is quite another. A blacksmith begets children, but he also produces iron. There is a vast difference between the two. Thus, the word "begotten" denotes the divinity of the Son.
"Of one essence with the Father". This term was also added to combat Arianism. The Son has the same essence as the Father In the example of the blacksmith, mentioned above, it is obvious that the children he begets are of one essence and the iron objects he produces are quite another.
"By Whom all things were made". In a previous Catechism we said that God created the world. The Fathers of the First Ecumenical Council said this, because, at the time, there were certain heretics who maintained that a lower god, which they identified with the Logos [Word], made the world. In this way, they explained the evil that exists in the world. However, the Fathers teach that the world was created by the Father, through the Son with the co-operation of the Holy Spirit. With this, they wanted to show that the Son was God. The evil that exists in the world is a result of man's fall; it is an interloper and parasite not the creation of a lower god. Just as a parasite can sprout upon a tree, without bearing any relation to the nature of the tree the same thing can be said about the evil that exists in the world. God made the world so that it was very good ("and God saw that it was good" Genesis 1), but disorder found its origin in man's fall.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God