Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Beauty of the Lord, the Theotokos and the Church


By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

"Thou art fairer than the sons of men" (Psalm 45:2).

Holy Scripture does not ascribe any particular value to physical beauty, and in general to anything transient. That is why everyone who reads Holy Scripture should take care to be sufficiently attentive and wise to transfer the praise of physical beauty to the soul and to spiritual values. Without a doubt, spiritual beauty gives a wondrous attractiveness to the most unattractive body, just as an ugly soul makes even the most attractive body repulsive.

The Prophet David, pouring forth good words (Psalm 45:1), says to his King, the Lord Jesus Christ: "Thou art fairer than the sons of men." The Lord Himself created His bodily cloak as He wanted. Had He wanted to appear in the world as the physically fairest of men, He could have done so. But there is nothing in the Gospel to indicate that He drew followers to Himself or influenced men by His appearance. He Himself said: "the flesh profiteth nothing" (John 6:63). Therefore, it is clear that David was not speaking of the physical beauty of Christ, but of His spiritual, divine beauty. This is clearly seen in the following words of the Psalmist: "Grace is poured forth upon thy lips" (Psalm 45:2). So it is that the unsurpassed beauty of the Son of God is not in the form and shape of His lips, but rather in the stream of grace that flows from His mouth. Again, the Prophet Isaiah speaks of Christ: "He had no form or comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him" (Isaiah 53:2-3).

Do Isaiah and David agree? Perfectly well. David speaks of Christ's inward beauty, and Isaiah speaks of Christ's external abasement. Isaiah said that He would not be seen as a king or a rich man, but as a servant and sufferer.

O Lord Jesus Christ, Thou art fairer to us than all men and angels: glory to Thine immortal and unending beauty. O gracious Lord, correct the ugliness of our souls, which are disfigured by sin, we pray Thee. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.


"The king's daughter is all glorious within" (Psalm 45:13).

The Church of God is the daughter of the King. However poor and unattractive to the physical eye it may seem on the outside, no matter how persecuted and humiliated, it is filled with royal radiance and beauty from within. The King, He Who is "fairer than the sons of men" (Psalm 45:2), imparts beauty to His royal daughter. The Church of God is like a vesture for Christ; Christ lives in her. No outer beauty can be compared with inner beauty, that is, the beauty of Christ.

The Most-holy Theotokos is the daughter of the King: "Her vesture is woven with gold" (Psalm 45:13). This vesture is the virtue of her soul. That we understand "vesture" as virtue is clear in the parable of the marriage of the king's son. The man who was not clothed in a wedding garment was driven from the king's table and punished (cf. Matthew 22:11-13). True faith in God was the golden vesture of the Most-holy Virgin. Virginity, meekness, compassion, sanctity, piety, devotion to God's will, and all other virtues, were like embroideries on this golden garment. However, her beauty was the work of the Lord Christ, hidden within her and born of her.

The soul of every faithful Christian is like the daughter of the King. All the beauty of that soul is in Christ and of Christ, Who is within the soul. A soul without Christ the Sun of Righteousness is in darkness, without form and comeliness, as the universe would be without form and comeliness without the material sun.

O great and gracious Lord, our true God and our man-loving Provider, help us to clothe ourselves in the garment of the virtues, that we may not be found naked at Thy Dread Judgment. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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