Wednesday, May 9, 2018

31 Homilies on the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (St. Nikolai Velimirovich)


By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

HOMILY 1

About prophetic visions

"The vision of Isaiah, the son of Amos" (Isaiah 1:1).

He who has understanding can know the one and true God. He, who is without understanding, let him listen to the one who understands and the one who understands and the other [who listens] will be saved. It is possible to clearly know God from created nature and still more clearly, from the inspired men of God and most clearly from the Lord Christ. The inspired men of God before Christ were the prophets. Among the first was Isaiah, the son of Amos. The Spirit of God opened his sight and he saw that which other men did not see. That is why he called his message to his people "a vision" [or apparition]. How the prophets saw the heavenly mysteries and the mysteries of future events cannot be described: that can only be experienced by those to whom God gives that gift.

The visions of the holy prophets are true, for those words and those heavenly appearances from these visions, have actually been confirmed later on. They are true because they served for the good of men, turning them from evil to good. Furthermore, they are true because the prophets fearlessly declared them without regard of the suffering which befell them and even without regard for the bitter death which many of them suffered.

What did Isaiah receive from the world and from men for his visions? Riches or honor or an exalted calling? The Jews sawed him in half! This is the riches, this is the honor and this is the glory of the prophet to suffer for the truth of God!

Therefore, let us listen to the prophets of God for they are the paths that lead to the city of the Great King; they are the rays of the Sun of Righteousness Christ which on a distant sphere illumines men with the heavenly light, pointing out the Sun to them.

O Lord Christ, Who revealed Yourself through the prophets and prepared the way for Your descent into our valley, help us. Help us to recognize Your light and Your providence in Your holy prophets.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.


HOMILY 2

About God's grievance against the unfaithful people

"Hear, O heavens and listen, O earth, for the Lord speaks: sons have I raised and reared but they have disowned me!" (Isaiah 1:2).

The wrath, wrath of God! God turns from the chosen people in wrath and grieves to His other creations; He grieves to the heavens and the earth. Harken my holy and rational angels and harken all you irrational earthly creatures! I wanted to make this people holy and rational and they have lowered themselves beneath irrational creatures with their impurity and ungratefulness. I have called them my sons and exalted them and they turned their backs on me and went after foul idols. Wrath, wrath of God, the wrath of Love, that even a thousand times does good to a leper and that even a thousand times was spat upon by the leper. When and if all the elements could speak, they could, with all the living things, witness all the great miracles which the One Living God performed for the people of Israel in Egypt and in the wilderness, only that they turn away from idolatry and believe in the One Living and Almighty God. This could be attested by water and blood, by stone and wood, by darkness and fire, by frogs and flies, by birds and serpents, by sickness and death and clouds and smoke, by winds and manna, and copper and iron together with pharaoh and the countless numbers of peoples miraculously defeated by the hand of God and removed from the path of the people of Israel. But still, they turned from God and went after idols.

This is the dreadful vision of Isaiah, the son of Amos, the prophet of God. O, my brethren, just imagine what kind of vision the Prophet Isaiah would have concerning us if he would appear today among our people!

O Lord, the only living, the only Omnipotent, affix our mind and our heart to You the true God and safeguard us; safeguard us from apostatizing from You.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.


HOMILY 3

About human ingratitude unseen even among the animals

"The ox knoweth hisowner and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, My people doth not consider" (Isaiah 1:3).

The ingratitude of man is most strongly exposed by the gratitude of animals. When the irrational ox knows who his master is and when the ass knows from whose crib it is fed, how then can rational man not know about God, His Creator and Nourisher? The word Israel means "one who sees God." And every rational man should by his rationality be "one who sees God", to know God, to feel the presence of God and to serve God as once did the meek and wonderful Jacob. But when rational man, whose entire dignity is in the knowledge of God, does not know God, i.e., when the "one who sees God" becomes blind toward God, then the dignity of the ox and the ass is raised in dignity above such a man. For an ox, without exception, recognizes his master and the ass, without exception, recognizes the one who feeds him while among men there exists exceptions, i.e., there exist men and, very often leaders of men, who do not recognize their Lord nor their Nourisher. In all of created nature, godlessness is a disease only among men for godliness is the condition of normality and health only for men and not for animals. Thus, godlessness is not the disease of animals but of men; alas, only of men, only they who are destined to be "ones who see God" and who, when they lose their godliness, become poorer than the ox and the ass.

This is the vision of Isaiah, the son of Amos, the Prophet of God.

O God of meek Jacob, of Israel, enlightened one "who sees God", help us to maintain our human dignity, the dignity of one "who sees God" and that in every day and every hour, we may know and recognize You with gratitude, as our Lord and Nourisher.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.


HOMILY 4

About the sickness of apostasy

"The whole head is sick and the whole heart faint" (Isaiah1:5).

Brethren, God, the God of Sabaoth, is the source of health. Go out to the heights of God, you whose heads are troubled by superfluous works and still more by superfluous concerns and be imbued with health which comes from God, only from God. A sick head those are the leaders and the elders of the people and a faint heart- those are the people. The prophet presents an entire people as one body and shows how even with the body of a people, the same thing happens as with body of a man, i.e., when one organ of the body is sick, then only that organ is sick, but from the sickness of this one organ, the entire body feels faint. So it was with the people of Israel: the head was sick and from a sick head, the heart is faint. The leaders and the elders of Israel abandoned the law of God and followed their senses as their guides. Their sensual mind, tarnished, overly tarnished from the various worldly influences, they took as their direction for a correct life instead of the law of God. They fell into the hopeless darkness of idolatrous errors. And from the insanity of the head, the heart was faint. It is more difficult for the heart to separate from God than it is for the head, it is more difficult for a people to separate from God than their elders, but when the head remains sick for a long time, than the heart is faint and yields. From corrupt leaders, even a people finally stray from the path.

This is the vision of Isaiah, the son of Amos, the true prophet. Indeed, a true vision, both for then and for now, for the people of Israel and for the people of today. Brethren, look at the people whom you know best and you alone judge, is the head sick and is the heart faint? O Lord, true and just, enlighten the head of every people with Your light and strengthen with Your might the heart of every people, so that our enemies will not rejoice and say that You have abandoned us.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.


HOMILY 5

About how God whitens the repentant sinners

"Though your sins be like scarlet, they may be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isaiah 1:18).

O, the boundless mercy of God! In His greatest wrath upon the faithless and ungrateful people, upon the people "laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters" (Isaiah 1:4), as "princes [rulers] of Sodom" (Isaiah 1:10) and upon the people who have become as the "people of Gomorrah" (Isaiah 1:10) - in such wrath, the Lord does not abandon mercy but rather calls them to repentance. Just as after terrible lightnings, a gentle rain falls. Such is the Lord long-suffering [patient] and full of mercy and "neither will He keep His anger forever" (Psalm 103:9). Only if sinners cease to commit evil and learn to do good and turn to God with humility and repentance they will become "white as snow." The Lord is mighty and willing. No one, except Him, is able to cleanse the sinful soul of man from sin and, by cleansing, to whiten it. No matter how often linen is washed in water with ashes and soap, no matter how often it is washed and rewashed, it cannot receive whiteness until it is spread under the light of the sun. Thus, our soul cannot become white, no matter how often we cleanse it by our own effort and labor even with the help of all legal means of the law until we, at last, bring it beneath the feet of God, spread out and opened wide so that the light of God illumines it and whitens it. The Lord condones and even commends all of our labor and effort, i.e., He wants us to bathe our soul in tears, by repentance to constrain it by the pangs of the conscience to press it, to clothe it with good deeds and in the end of ends, He calls us to Him: "Come now," says the Lord, "and let us reason together" (Isaiah 1:18). That is, I will look at you and I will see if there is Me in you and you will look upon Me as in a mirror and you will see what kind of person you are.

O Lord, slow to anger, have mercy on us before the last wrath of that Dreadful Day.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.


HOMILY 6

About the exaltation of the Church of God

"And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established in the top of the mountains and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow into it" (Isaiah 2:2).

This prophecy pertains to the Church of Christ. However much of this prophecy could seem to be mysterious to the Jews before Christ, so much more is it completely clear for us today. Mountain or height: the house of the Lord is truly established "in the top of the mountains", i.e., in the heights of the heavens, for the Church of Christ, first, is not sustained by the earth but rather by the heavens and finally, one part of the members of the Church (and now, a greater part) is to be found in heaven, while the other part is still on earth.

Further, the Church of Christ is "exalted above the hills", i.e., above all earthly and human greatness. Human philosophy and art and all the cultures of people as well as all earthly values represent only the low hills in comparison to the infinite heights of Christ's Church. For it was not difficult for the Church to create all of those hills, while neither one of them, nor all of them together, in the course of many thousands of years, was able to create the Church.

Finally, the prophet says: "all nations shall flow into it." To what, truly, up to now, have all the nations flowed if not into the Church of Christ? The Temple of Jerusalem was inexcessible to the Gentiles under the penalty of death. The Church, however, from the beginning called all nations on earth, obedient to the command of the Lord: "Go ye therefore and teach all nations" (St. Matthew 28:19).

This is the vision of Isaiah, the son of Amos, a vision from afar, a vision truthful and wonderful.

O Wonderful Lord, we give You unceasing thanks that You have made us worthy to be the children of Your Holy and True Church that is exalted above all the worldly heights.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.


HOMILY 7

About the new law from Zion

"For out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isaiah 2:3).

The prophet speaks of a new law and of a new word. The old law was given on Sinai and the new law will come from Zion. The old law was given through Moses and the new law, the Lord Christ Himself will bring. That [the old law] was intended in the beginning only for the Jews, and this one [the new law], will be directed to all peoples and all of mankind. Even though these words of the prophet are clear, however, the Jews could not understand them nor do they understand them today. The meaning of these words is closed to them because of their stony hearts. To whom do they [the Jews] apply these words? To no one. How do they [the Jews] interpret these words? They do not. They pass by these words as a blind man passes by an open door. If they were able to comprehend these words, would they have then acted in such a manner as they acted with the prophet and the prophesied One [Christ]? Would they have sawn Isaiah and crucified Christ on the Cross?

The Jews considered the law of Moses to be the only and final law of God. That is why they were unable to comprehend the meaning of the prophecy of the new law from Zion, i.e., from the House of David, for David glorified Zion. But if the Jews did not know to comprehend the new law through the old law, we Christians know that through the new law we comprehend the old law. The Jews only had a tree without fruit but we have the tree and the fruit. They only had an image without reality, but we have both reality and the image. They adhered only to promises and that, incorrectly understood, but we have the promises and the fulfillment.

O All-rich Lord, Who has enriched us with Your spiritual law and Your life-giving words, You only do we worship and to You only do we pray; grant us wisdom and power to live according to Your law and to uphold Your holy word, so that we may not become poor before You, Who has made us rich!

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.


HOMILY 8

About the peace-making of Christ

"And they [the people] shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore" (Isaiah 2:4).

How clearly the prophet sees Christ the Peacemaker! One by one, the prophet points out the dignity of the Savior. First of all, the prophet pointed Him out as the Lawgiver of the new law, a law for all the peoples on earth. After that the prophet pointed out His exaultedness above all heights, earthly and historical. And now, the prophet points Him out as the Peacemaker whose power and love will forge [beat] swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks. Has this great prophecy about peace been fulfilled? Yes it has, in spite of the fact that wars still exist. Behold, wars among Christian peoples are not the same as wars among pagans. Pagans fought with pride while Christians fight with shame. Pagan faiths inhabited their heaven only with warriors and the Christian Faith promises heaven to the saints. As Christians, by their weakness, repeat certain other pagan sins, so they repeat the sin of waging war. However, God examines the heart and knows with what disposition the pagans sin and with what disposition the Christians sin. The Pharisees denied Christ, Peter also denied Him. But the Pharisees denied Him with unrepentant malice and Peter denied Him in shame and again, confessed Him with repentance.

However brethren, what can we say concerning the swords and spears of passions by which we kill our souls and the souls of our fellow men? O, when we would beat those swords into plowshares that deeply plow the souls and sow the noble seed of Christ in ourselves! And when we would beat the spears into pruning hooks to harvest the tares in our souls and to burn them! Then the peace of Christ would take up abode in the souls of all of us, just as it abided in the souls of the saints. Who then would even think about war against his neighbors and against neighboring peoples?

O how wondrous is the vision of Isaiah, the son of Amos, the prophet of God!

O Lord, beat the weapons of war in us into instruments of peace by the fire of Your word.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.


HOMILY 9

About the nothingness of the sinful before the majesty of God

"Enter into the rock and hide thee in the dust, for the fear of the Lord and for the glory of His majesty" (Isaiah 2:10).

This is a bitter sneer of the prophet to his people, an idolatrous people. The people had rejected the faith in the one true God and began to worship idols of stone and earth. What will you do, O evil people, when "the fear of the Lord" appears? Where will you flee, when the "glory of His majesty" appears? Flee into the rocks from which you have made a god for yourselves! Flee into the dust, from which you have made a god for yourselves! O, how terrifying is the sneer of this discerning prophet! Who can enter into a rock and hide themselves? Who can flee into the dust and conceal himself from the Most High?

However, brethren let us leave the idolatry of the Jews for which they have been punished enough and, for a moment, let us look at the idolatry among us Christians. What is amassed gold, if not idol? What are gleaned fields other than an idol of dust? What are luxurious clothes other than an idol made from the skins and hairs of animals? Where will the idolaters of our generation hide when "the fear of the Lord" appears and when "the glory of his majesty" appears? Flee to gold, worshippers of gold! Flee to the earth, worshippers of the earth! Hide in the skins of animals and bury yourself with the hairs of foxes and the fibers of the dead silk worm, O, you idolators! O bitter irony! All of this will be burned in the Day of the Lord, on that Dreadful Day. And man will stand face to face with the only Majestic and Eternal One. All the idols of mankind will be destroyed by fire before men and the Immortal Judge will ask the idolators: "Where are your gods?"

Isaiah, the son of Amos, the prophet of God, lived on earth a long time ago but his vision, even today, is dreadful, beneficial and, again, dreadful.

To You, the only One, the only living Lord, do we worship! All else is passing dust. Help us Lord, help us that our mind and heart does not adhere to the passing dust but to You, only to You, the only Living One.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.


HOMILY 10

About the weakness of sinful ones

"As for my people, children are their oppressors and women rule over them" (Isaiah 3:12).

All that is of God is most beautiful and most wise. Everything created by God travels obediently along the path for which God has ordained it. The stars move, animals live and the atmospheric currents conform - all according to the order established by God. Only man, the most intelligent creature, frequently falls into ignorance and leaving the path of God, invents new paths according to his thinking. Because of that, it could happen that instead of the elders, children become leaders and instead of the husbands, wives begin to rule. When children rule oppression reigns and when women rule, disorder usually reigns. When this is permitted by God because this does not occur without the sin of a people and without the permission of God then the people find themselves under punishment for their sins, in the same way as when war comes and the enemy subdues the land, for all oppression is war and every disorder is a punishment for sin.

Just as oppression and disorder are able to reign in a nation so, in the same way, they are able to reign in the soul of man. Immature and impious thoughts represent children and physical sensual theorizing, represent women. When immature and impious thoughts prevail, then they oppress man and drag him from evil to evil as when children judge; and when physical theorizing prevails over the spiritual, masculine wisdom, which is from God, then they rule over man as an evil woman. Under "women", the prophet understands not only females, but also men with women's weaknesses.

So that children's ignorance and women's whims do not overtake man, or a nation, it is necessary to strictly adhere to the law of God, prescribed by God for men as all created things adhere to the law of God, prescribed for them by God.

O Lord, Creator and our Lawgiver, illumine us and strengthen us. Illumine us with the grace of the Spirit that we may always know Your law and strengthen us with the power of the Spirit to always adhere to Your law.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.


HOMILY 11

About how ugliness comes with sin

"Instead of sweet smell there shall be stink; and instead of a girdle a rent; and instead of well set hair baldness …and burning instead of beauty" (Isaiah 3:24).

This is the word about extravagant and wayward women, about the daughters of Zion who have become haughty and "walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes, walking and mincing as they go and making a tinkling with their feet" (Isaiah 3:16). What was it that made the Hebrew women proud? Was it virtue? Virtue never made anyone proud for, in fact, virtue is a cure against pride. Was it the strength of a people and the stability of the State? No, on the contrary, the prophet exactly fortells the imminent bondage of the people and the destruction of the State. And, as one of the main causes for slavery and destruction, the prophet cites vain extravagance, spiritual nothingness and wayward women. What, therefore, made them so proud and haughty? Ornaments and embroideries stranded beads and necklaces, trinkets and hairpins, garters and girdles, perfumes and rings, quivers and mirrors. Behold, this is what made them proud and haughty! Exactly, all of this is an expression of their ignorant pride but the true cause of their pride is spiritual nothingness. From spiritual nothingness comes pride and that external melange [mixture] of colors which women drape over their bodies is only an obvious manifestation of their ignorant pride. What will become of all this in the end? Stench, disheveledness, baldness and burning. This will occur when the people fall into bondage. As usually happens: first, the spirit is enslaved by the body and then the body is enslaved by an external enemy.

Thus, that will be even then when the inescapable conqueror of our bodies comes death. Sweet smells will not help in the grave, the kingdom of stench. Neither will there be a need for girdles for a naked spine [skeleton]. Neither will braided hair save the skull from baldness nor all the beauty from the black remains of burning. This is the inescapable fate of the most beautiful, the healthiest the wealthiest and the most extravagant women. But this is not the greatest misfortune. The greatest misfortune is that the souls of these women with their stench, disheveledness, baldness, and burning will come before God and before the heavenly hosts of the most beautiful of God's angels and righteous ones. For the stench of the body connotes the stench of the soul from depraved vices; a disheveled body connotes the insatiability of the soul for bodily pleasures; the baldness of the body connotes the baldness of the soul of good works and pure thoughts; burning of the body connotes the burning of the conscience and the mind.

O, how dreadful is the vision of Isaiah, the son of Amos; dreadful then and even dreadful today; dreadful, because it is true.

O, Lord Holy and All-pure, help the women who make the sign with Your Cross, that they may remember their souls and to cleanse their souls before Your Righteous Judgment, so that their souls, together, with their bodies do not become eternal stench.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.


HOMILY 12

About the awesome vision of the Prophet Isaiah

"I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up" (Isaiah 6:1).

Here is the vision of visions! Here is the glory of glories and the majesty above majesties! God showed great mercy to all of mankind in that He gave them to see this great starry world to see, the work of His hands. Yet, He showed a yet greater mercy to those to whom He gave the eternal and wondrous angelic world to see. However, He showed the greatest mercy to a small number of His chosen ones, to whom He gave Himself to see, the Lord Sabaoth, the Only Uncreated One and Creator of both worlds. But, how can mortal man see the Immortal God? Did not God Himself say to Moses: "For there shall no man see me and live" (Exodus 33:20)? And, does not the Gospel say: "No man has seen God at any time" (St. John 1:18). Truly, no mortal one can see the face of God, i.e., the essence of God. But, by His condescension and infinite goodness and might, God can reveal to men, to some extent, and in some form, how accessible He is to men. In a particular form and appearance, He appeared to Moses, Elijah, Daniel and to John the Theologian not in His essence but in a particular form and appearance. Isaiah saw Him on a throne "high and lifted up" i.e., as the Judge raised above all the judges and all the earthly courts. The six-winged Seraphim stood around Him and cried one to another: "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of Hosts" (Isaiah 6:3). The Lord, therefore, is not alone but rather He is the King in His Invisible Kingdom surrounded by the most exalted of beings, who were created by His power. Around Him are the foremost orders of the heavenly hierarchy, the chief-commanders of His innumerable immortal hosts, the foremost lampstands of His light and His unendurable radiance.

This is the wondrous vision of Isaiah, the Son of Amos, the prophet of God.

O, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord, Thrice Holy, have mercy on us and save us, impure and sinful.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.


HOMILY 13

About the chief prophesy of the Prophet Isaiah

"Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Emmanuel" (Isaiah 7:14).

This glorious prophecy concerning the birth of the Lord by a virgin was spoken by Isaiah, the prophet who saw God, at the moment of the greatest despair which befell Jerusalem. The multitudinous army of Syrians and Ephriams had surrounded the city, around the very walls of the city. King Ahaz, with neither an army nor weapons and the inhabitants of Jerusalem were in mortal fear. "The heart of the king [Ahaz] and the heart of the people trembled, as the trees of the forest tremble in the wind" (Isaiah 7:2). In that final hour of the king's despair, Isaiah came before the king and by command of God said to him: "Fear not neither be fainthearted" (Isaiah 7:4). Then Isaiah prophesied that the enemies would not take Jerusalem. Seeing that King Ahaz did not believe him, Isaiah told the king to ask for a sign, a miracle, be it from heaven or from earth. However, the unbelieving king did not want to ask but remained obstinate in his doubt. The prophet then said that God would give them a sign, even though they did not seek it. This sign refers to distant times and concerns the universal salvation of the mankind. "A virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Emmanuel" which is to say: "God is with us." Why did not the prophet immediately give a sign so that the king would believe? Because, that prophecy about the salvation of Jerusalem, in the hour when the king thought that all had fallen, was sufficient enough to show both the power of God and the unbelief of the king. Why did the prophet, at that very moment and under such circumstances, foretell the prophecy of the birth of the Savior? Because mankind, at the time of the coming of the Savior, will be in the same kind of despair, pressured by and surrounded by the powers of the demons, as was Jerusalem at that moment. Did the prophet explicitly say Virgin and not a Woman? Naturally, he mentioned a Virgin. For if the prophesy were spoken of a woman, what kind of miracle would it be; what kind of sign? Are not all men born of women? All the weight of emphasis is on the word "Virgin."

Thus, the All-seeing God knows how to tie in the near with the distant and that, by fulfilling one prophecy in the present, He confirms a second prophecy in the future. "Emmanuel God is with us" - He saved Jerusalem then as an invisible God. "Emmanuel God is with us" He will save mankind in similar dangers later on as the Incarnate God, as God-Man, born of the All-Pure Virgin and the Holy Spirit.

O Lord, Who gave power to the prophets to see the truth as it comes from afar, give us the power to embrace that truth which has already come.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.


HOMILY 14

About the prophesied light in darkness

"The people that walked in the darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined" (Isaiah 9:2).

There where it is the darkest, the prophet fortells there will appear the light-bearing Messiah. The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali were considered as the darkest lands. There, the pagans were intermingled with the Jews; the yoke of external and internal slavery is the most difficult; the darkness of the pagans and the darkness of the Pharisees covered the people with the shadow of death. The Light of Heaven shown first in Bethlehem Christ the Lord was born there. That Light was seen from afar by eastern Magi and, in the vicinity, by the shepherds of Bethlehem. But that Light was driven out of Bethlehem by the bloody sword of Herod and the Light withdrew to Egypt. After that, the Light shown in full radiance in this land of darkness and the shadow of death, in the land of Zebulun and Naphtali. In this land, alongside the lake, there lived fishermen whom our Lord chose for His disciples. In this land is the Mount of the Beatitudes from which the Lord proclaimed His first great sermon about the blessed. There, also, is Cana of Galilee where the Lord worked His first miracle. There, He began His work for the salvation of mankind by His powerful word and by His powerful deeds. Men saw this great Light and were astonished. Many were scandalized at the Lord and many mocked Him. But these men of darkness did not kill Him. There was another darker spot in the land of the Jews, which raised its hand against the Creator and killed Him. That is the same spot from which Herod, thirty-three years earlier, raised his bloody sword, to extinguish this great Light by blood, i.e., Jerusalem. Of all the darkness, the darkness of Jerusalem was the darkest. Perhaps the darkest because she [Jerusalem] named herself as the light.

O Lord, our Great and All-great Light, encompass us by Your light in this short period of time and receive us after death into Your Light, glorious and immortal.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.


HOMILY 15

About the most glorious Child

"For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).

Upon whom of mortal man, in human history could all of these titles, all of this authority, all of this glory apply? There is no one. That is why St. Chrysostom says: "It is impossible to understand this in regard to any other man but only in reference to Christ." The prophet here clearly expresses two natures in the Savior of the world: the Human and the Divine. "A Child is born," this signifies a purely human nature. "Unto us a Son is given," this unites the two natures in one person: the Son of God and the Son of the Virgin in the person of the Incarnate Lord. However, the remaining titles signify the divine nature of the Lord Jesus. His government is "upon His shoulder," i.e., the government is His. His own government and is not borrowed. "Mighty Counseller," is this not the Holy Trinity? The angel or messenger and herald of this Triune Counsel is the Son of God, the Pre-eternal Word. "Wonderful Counseller," for all that is wonderful, all that is an amazement, all that is new which came to mankind is from Him and through Him.

"The Mighty God," what would Arius and his modern adherents, who deny the divinity of the Lord Jesus, say to this? "The Prince of Peace," for from Him is lasting peace; outside Him is war, without and within. "The Everlasting Father," [the Father of future times] as He is the Lord of the past, so also is He the Lord of the future. Furthermore, He is also the Father of the Church, the Creator of the new world, the Founder of the Kingdom of God.

Isaiah himself, the son of Amos, saw this wonderful and true vision some seven hundred years before it was revealed to the entire universe.

O Lord Jesus, You are to the prophets the most glorious prophecy and to the faithful, the most glorious revelation. Unlock our mind that the wonderful glory of Your majesty can enter into it and unlock our heart so that it would be filled by Your life-creating love.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.


HOMILY 16

About the divine branch from the root of Jesse

"And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse and a Branch shall grow out of his roots" (Isaiah 11:1).

With such clear prophesies about Christ the Lord, why did not the Jews believe in Him as the Messiah? Because of their insane pride and because of their insane crimes against holy and righteous men. Who is that rod from the stem of Jesse other than the Lord Christ? Jesse was the father of King David and the Messiah was expected from the lineage of David. He appeared from the lineage of David and from Bethlehem, the city of David. The "rod out of the stem of Jesse" signifies the physical descent of the Lord through the Virgin Mary, a descendant of Jesse and David, and the "branch out of his roots" Jesse's roots signifies the revealed righteousness in Him which was trampled down by the many kings from the house of David. Trampled down righteousness is like a dry tree stump. But from the root of such a tree stump, a green branch sometimes sprouts. The Lord Jesus will be such a self-sprouting branch. From His mother, He will be of the lineage of David, by righteousness from the lineage of David but by His Divine Conception, He will be of the Holy Spirit. In eternity from the Father without a mother, in time from a mother without a father. In eternity, the concept of becoming man [incarnation] remained hidden under the covering of Divinity; in time, His Divinity therefore remained hidden under the covering of humanity. Pilate gazed in vain at this "rod from the stem of Jesse" and cried out: "Behold the Man!" (St. John 19:5), the same as when one looks at a wire conveying electrical current among many ordinary wires and cries out: "Behold the wire!" Neither does he recognize electrical current in a wire nor did that one [Pilate] recognize God in man.

O Lord Jesus, Man-kind loving God-man, make us to love God and save us.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.


HOMILY 17

About the Spirit-bearing divine Child

"And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord" (Isaiah 11:2).

The Holy Spirit of God does not separate from the Father nor does it separate from the Son either, nor does the Father separate from the Son and the Spirit, nor does the Son separate from the Father and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit prophesied about the Son through the prophets, the Holy Spirit overshadowed the All-holy Virgin and prepared her for the birth of the Son of God, the Holy Spirit inseparably stood over the Son during the entire time of His visit to the world in the body. The Spirit of Wisdom the Spirit is the vision of heavenly mysteries; The Spirit of Understanding the Spirit is the comprehending of the ties of the visible and invisible world; The Spirit of Counsel the Spirit is the separation of good from evil; The Spirit of Power [Might] the Spirit is the authority over created nature; The Spirit of Knowledge the Spirit is the knowledge of the essence of created beings; The Spirit of the Fear of the Lord the Spirit is the recognizing of the divine power over both worlds and submission to the will of God. Whoever among men had unto himself this fullness of riches of the gifts of the Holy Spirit? No one, ever. Only the Lord Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit distributes His gifts and gives them to men, some to this one and some to another. But, the whole of the undivided fullness of His gifts shines in the Son of God.

Why did the Lord Jesus need to have the fear of God when He Himself is God? As God, He did not have the fear of God but as a man had the fear of God for the sake of an example to us. Just as He fasted, watched and labored as a man for the sake of teaching men, so He feared God as a man for the sake of teaching men. What is more curable for men infected with sin than the fear of God? He, as one Who was healthy had to take unto Himself the medicine for sin so that He could encourage us who are sick to take those medicines. Does not a parent do the same thing with sick children who are afraid to take the prescribed medicine?

O Triune and Eternal God before Whom all the heavenly hosts bow down singing the wondrous hymn: Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord of Sabaoth receive our worship also and save us.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.


HOMILY 18

About peace between the wolf and the lamb

"The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb and the leopard shall lie down with the kid" (Isaiah 11:6).

Thus, the true prophet foretold the truth. And he further added: "The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; …and the lion shall eat straw like the ox" (Isaiah 11:6-7). And the child will place his hand in the hole of a poisonous snake [asp] and the snake will not harm him. Brethren, when will this wonder occur? This has already occurred when Christ the wonder-worker appeared on earth. This is a reality of Paradise, which was restored among men with the coming of the Savior upon earth. The prophet speaks enigmatically but, nevertheless, clearly; enigmatically, for the prophet does not speak about wild beasts but of men; for his prophecy was clearly fulfilled in Christ's Church. Men, who by their habits, were as wolves, wildcats, lions, bears, oxen, lambs, kids and serpents all stand before the Child of Bethlehem equalized by faith, tamed by grace, illumined by hope and softened by love.

The prophet further fortells why this will take place. "For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9). When viewed physically, every man is earth. The man who believes in Christ and, in truth follows after Christ, becomes full of the knowledge of the Lord as the sea, which is filled with water. Such were many individuals. Such were even entire companies of ascetics in Egypt, on the Holy Mountain [Athos], on Cyprus, in Russia, in Armenia and in other places. But this is not all. The knowledge of the Lord has spread today throughout the earth. Holy Scripture is distributed throughout all nations. There are few corners of the earth where the Gospel of Christ is not read, where the name of God is not known and where the Bloodless Sacrifice of the Lord is not offered. Some deny Christ, others embrace Him, some abandon the true Faith and others embrace the true Faith. And thus continues the one struggle throughout the entire world in the sign of the Lord Jesus. The overly filled waters pour out and flow into empty valleys; the empty valleys become filled and are made equal with the high waters. Everything is not glowing in the world as we Christians wish it to be, but the prophecy of the Prophet Isaiah was gloriously fulfilled most clearly and was accomplished. O how wonderful is the vision of Isaiah, the son of Amos, the true prophet. O, miracle-working Lord, tame the beastly nature of those men and people who are not tamed by the power of Your love. That we all may be fruitful from Your abundance. That we all may be glorious from Your Glory and alive Lord, alive from Your Immortal life.


HOMILY 19

About the power of the Lord and the weakness of idols

"Behold, the Lord rideth upon a light cloud and shall come into Egypt: And the idols of Egypt shall be moved at His presence" (Isaiah 19:1).

Fleeing from King Herod, the Pharaoh of Jerusalem, the Lord came to Egypt. The true Israel is not reckoned according to the place but rather according to the spirit and deeds. At the time of the birth of the Lord, greater evil [Herod] reigned in Jerusalem than ever reigned in the Egypt of the Pharaohs as it often happens when believers fall away from the Faith, they become worse than the unbelievers who never knew the true Faith. Such is the case in our days with the rulers in Russia who apostatized from Christ. At that time, Egypt was a kinder and more hospitable place for the Savior of the world than was Jerusalem. Compare the words of the prophet with the words of the angel in a dream to the Righteous Joseph: "Arise, and take the young Child and His mother and flee into Egypt" (St Matthew 2:13) and immediately you will be convinced that the words of Isaiah do not refer to anyone other than Christ the Lord. You will be convinced of this even more when you hear the words of the other prophet who speaks: "Out of Egypt I called My son" (Hosea 11: 1).

What does "a light cloud" upon which He [the Lord] will come to Egypt signify? This signifies the body of the Lord in which He will clothe His divinity, for the body of man is as a dense cloud in which the soul resides. Therefore, that is the prophetic vision of the Incarnate Lord. Some interpreters also think that "a light cloud" signifies the Most-pure Mother of God who, by long fasting and prayer and other mortifications made her body as light as a cloud. Especially "light was that cloud" the body of the Birth-giver of God because of the absence of passions, which burden the human body.

O, All-merciful Lord, Who desires salvation for all mankind and does not look to see who is a Jew and who is an Egyptian, save and have mercy on us for we continuously hope in Your Name.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.


HOMILY 20

About Egypt's conversion to the Lord

"And the Lord shall be known to Egypt and the Egyptians shall know the Lord in that day and shall do sacrifice and oblation; yes, they shall vow a vow unto the Lord and perform it" (Isaiah 19:21).

O how changeable is the heart of man! But, of all of his changes, one is more shameful than the most shameful and that is: when a believer becomes an unbeliever. Of all his changes, one is more glorious than the most glorious and that is: when the unbeliever converts and becomes a believer. The first change occurred with the Israelites who killed Christ and the other occurred with the Egyptians who believed in Christ. At one time, Egypt was the greatest persecutor of those who believed in the one, living God, for at one time, the Egyptians had many lifeless gods, idols and things that they worshipped, fables and soothsayers by which they were deceived. But behold what the prophet fortells! What a wonderful vision! The Egyptians will recognize the one and the living Lord at the time when the Lord appears in the flesh among mankind. Idols will be destroyed, the temples of the demons and animals will be overthrown and the altar of oblation of the Living and one God will be established and raised up. The Bloodless Sacrifice will be offered in place of the bloody sacrifice and the rational in place of the irrational. Hundreds and thousands of monks will take upon themselves the vows of poverty, obedience, fasting, and prayer out of love for the Lord. The greatest ascetics will appear in this once darkened Egypt; the bravest martyrs for Christ the Lord; the most enlightened minds; the most discerning miracle-workers. O, what a wonderful vision! And how wonderful is the realization of that vision! St. Chrysostom writes: "Neither the sun, with its multitude of stars, is not as glowing as much as the wilderness of Egypt with all of its monks." All was realized in truth, that was foreseen and foretold by Isaiah, the son of Amos, the discerning and true prophet.

O compassionate Lord who showed mercy on Egypt, the one time persecutor of Your faithful, and illumined it with the light of truth, illumine us also and strengthen us by Your Holy Spirit and by the example of the great Christians of Egypt.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.


HOMILY 21

About the wondrous stone in Zion

"Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation: he that believes in it shall not be ashamed" (Isaiah 28:16).

Brethren, this wondrous stone is our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. For if the prophet thought of it as an ordinary stone, he would not have mentioned faith in it [the stone], otherwise he would have prophesied idolatry. The Prophet Daniel also speaks about a stone which rolled down the hill and smashed the great idol and grew as a great mountain and filled the whole earth: "Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were made of iron and clay and broke them into pieces…and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth" (Daniel 2:34-35). The prophecy about the stone in Daniel is for pagans and the prophecy about the stone in Isaiah is for Jews. The Lord Jesus Christ is that stone which is laid first, in the foundation of God's entire creation, for He is the Word of God and the Wisdom of God; second, as the foundation of the Old Testament as the preparation and third, as the foundation of the New Testament as the fulfillment. The "corner-stone", that is the firmest and the strongest stone which connects and joins other stones and holds the walls of various directions [angels] in oneness and in wholeness. If we observe the Lord Christ within us, He is the "corner-stone" which binds and ties our various spiritual capabilities in unity and wholeness so that all work toward one goal, in the direction of God and the Kingdom of God. If we observe Christ the Lord in the history of mankind, He is the "corner-stone" which ties and binds Judaism and paganism in one House of God, in the Church of God. "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Christ Jesus" (1 Corinthians 3:11) says the apostle of the New Testament in agreement with the prophet of the Old Testament. Whoever has, until now, believed in that Stone of Salvation was not ashamed. Neither will anyone ever be ashamed who would believe in it. For this stone is a "sure foundation" and truly a "chosen stone", a "precious and honorable stone".

O Lord Jesus, our Stone of Salvation, strengthen the faith in us, that holy and salvatory faith in You, our only Savior.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.


HOMILY 22

About the prophecy of the miracles of Christ

"Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as a hart and the tongue of the dumb sing" (Isaiah 35: 5-6).

Come, brethren, let us be amazed at the power of our living God Who opened the eyes of mortal men to see in the greatest distance of time that which will come to pass. And still to see in the minutest details as though this prophet [Isaiah] himself was an apostle of Christ, walked with the Lord, witnessed the miracles of miracles, how he gives sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, the lame to walk and to the dumb, voice and speech. When John the Baptist in prison sent his disciples to ask Christ: "Are You He who is to come or do we look for another?" (St. Matthew 11:3), the Lord Christ answered them in the words of His prophet Isaiah: "Go and show John again those things which you do hear and see: The blind receive their sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up "

(St. Matthew 11: 4-5). Look and see how wonderful the Lord planned our salvation! That which was prophesied about Him through His Prophet Isaiah, that is what He fulfilled. At one time, the Prophet Isaiah spoke His words inspired by the Holy Spirit and now He [Jesus Christ] speaks the words of His prophet. At one time, the prophet quoted Him and now He [Jesus Christ] quotes the prophet. To show by this that when He speaks His words or when He speaks the words of the prophet, He always speaks only His words. To show that even then it was He who spoke and not the prophet and that it is now He who speaks and not anyone else and to justify His prophet as His faithful servant so that no one would be able to say that the prophet spoke falsely. Thus, the prophets served to the glory of Christ the Lord and Christ the Lord glorified His prophets, His true servants.

O Lord Jesus, glorified by Your servants and the Glorifier of Your servants, help us also so that by word, deed and thoughts we may be able to serve the majestic glory of Your Name.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.


HOMILY 23

About John the Precursor [the Forerunner] and how Isaiah prophesied concerning him

"The voice of him that cries in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God" (Isaiah 40:3).

When a king wants to visit a certain place, he sends before him in advance his heralds. To an unusual king an unusual herald is appropriate. The herald of Christ the King in the wilderness was Moses; in Jerusalem, the Prophets; in Nazareth, the Archangel; in Bethlehem, the Magi of the East; on the Jordan, John. Not one king in the history of mankind has had such heralds. St. John the Baptist was also as unusual and special as were the other heralds of Christ. He was the voice crying in the two-fold wilderness: in the wilderness of Jordan and in the human wilderness. Just as the wilderness of Jordan was fruitless and dry, so the wilderness of the human spirit, was unfruitful and dry. John was not able to make the human wilderness green and fruitful, but he cleared and plowed it and, in that way, was preparing the earth and leveled it [the earth] for the great Sower Who, by His coming, brings with Him the seed and the rain to sow the seed of knowledge and the rain of grace from on high to make it green and be fruitful. By repentance, John prepared the way and by baptism in water, made the path straight. The way and the paths these are the souls of men. By repentance, the souls of men were prepared to receive the seed of Christ and by baptism in water to bury that seed deep in the earth of their heart. The proud and the lowly when they are immersed naked in the water are all as one, equal in their nothingness before the majesty of the All-glorious Christ the Savior: "Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill shall be made low" (Isaiah 40:4). The word here is not about earthly valleys and hills but of lowly and proud men. As corpses in the grave are all the same before the eyes of a living man, thus all sinners, lowly and proud, slaves and masters are equal before the living God.

Such a wondrous vision was seen by Isaiah, the son of Amos, the prophet of the living God, the one and true God.

O Lord, Heavenly King, to Whom the heavenly hosts worship day and night, look down once again upon our nothingness and because of Your humiliation and passion for us, save us.


HOMILY 24

About the character of Christ as foretold Isaiah

"He shall not cry nor lift up nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall He not break and the smoking flax shall He not quench: He shall bring forth judgment unto truth" (Isaiah 42:2-3).

Who had more right than the Lord, the Son of God, to raise His voice at the lawless ones in His vineyard on earth? Who had a greater right to reprimand sinners who scorn God and God's law? O sweet meekness, unseen among men! O pure mountain water which flows down from the heights and silently washes the impurity of the habitations of men! Many pagans think that they would believe in Christ if they could hear from Him, not kind words, but thundering words. But let the pagans say which is better, thunderous words with shouting and roaring which pass without effect as smoke is chased by the wind or kind words which have the effect of thunder? Can a legion of thunders expel a legion of demons from a man possessed? But a legion of thunders struck above Gadara but the legion of demons in the man possessed did not even feel that. Neither did our Lord Jesus shout at the demons but rather quietly told them to come out and they obediently came forth. Brethren, it is not a matter of shouting or criticizing but rather of power.

"A bruised reed shall He not break and the smoking flax shall He not quench." This refers to the Old Testament whose spirit the Pharisees had completely bruised and overloaded with their Sabbatical formalities and which only smoked but did not give any light to men because of their blunted understanding and the stony hearts of men. The Lord will not break the bruised reed neither will He completely quench the almost extinguished fire of that law which He gave. Still, this pertains to sinful men. Men subdued by sin He will not put an end to nor sinners in whom the divine light has turned into smoke will He quench but He will straighten the reed and rekindle the divine fire in men. For because of sinners, He came into the world. He will proclaim judgment softly and gently but with the power which truth itself alone conveys. He will behave gently and humbly and with compassion and with mercy similar to a physician - but far more sublimely and cordially than a physician when He enters a house of a madman.

O gentle and serene Lord, fill us with Your All-wondrous meekness and serenity.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.


HOMILY 25

About the opened prison and the lighted darkness

"That you may say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves" (Isaiah 49:9).

Who is the greater prisoner than he who is bound by sin? Is there a greater darkness than the darkness of sin, death and hell? Who can loose from sin? "God alone". Even the Scribes and Pharisees themselves acknowledged this. "Who can forgive sins but God alone?" (St. Mark 2:7). Christ released many from sin, and made them free and whole. Therefore, if "God alone" is able to release prisoners from sins, then why did not the Jews acknowledge Him as God? The reason being is that they were bound by sin and were unable logically to reflect to the end, nor yet did they allow the Lord to release them from the bonds of sins. Look and see into what kind of stupidity the wise men of the Jews fall: while on the one hand, they confirm that "God alone" is able to loose man from sin while, on the other hand, they accuse Christ that He works with the help of the devil! The devil is the one who binds, so how can the devil lose? The devil is the one who destroys man, how then will he save him? Where there are devils, there also is prison: sin, death and hell. "Christ alone" had the power, the divine, unequaled power to lead and to save the souls of men out from prison. "My son, your sins are forgiven you!" (St. Mark 2:5). "Young man arise!" (St. Luke 7:14) "Lazarus, come forth!" (St. John 11:43). By His mighty word He removed the bonds of the sinners and led the dead into the light of life. By His descent into Hell, he destroyed the throne of Satan and freed the souls of the righteous ones. By His resurrection, He fully and completely revealed His irresistible authority over all the diabolical bonds of the devil, over all the intrigues of hell and over the "last enemy death": "The last enemy that will be destroyed is death" (1 Corinthians 15:26).

O Lord, Victor over demons, Liberator from sin, Raiser of the dead, You do we worship and to You do we pray: free us, resurrect us and bless us.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.


HOMILY 26

About the sufferings [passions] of Christ, how Isaiah foresaw them

"I gave my back to the smiters and My cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not My face from shame and spitting" (Isaiah 50:6).

Brethren, this is the prophecy and now hear the exact fulfillment of that prophecy: "And when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered Him to be crucified" (St. Matthew 27:26). Is not this what the prophet foretold: "I gave My back to the smiters"? Listen further: "One of the officers who stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand" (St. John 18:22). And again: "They struck Him on the face and asked Him, saying, 'Prophesy, who is it that smote You?' " (St. Luke 22:64). Is not this what the prophet foretold? "I gave My cheeks to them that smite " ? Listen even further: "…And they mocked Him" (St. Matthew 27-29), "And they smote Him on the head with a reed and did spit upon Him" (St. Mark 15:19); is not this what the prophet foretold: "I hid not My face from shame and spitting." Observe, brethren, how clear is the prophecy, clear from word to word. Observe with horror, how the discerning man of God sees more clearly through the walls of several hundred years than the ordinary eye, which sees the bottom of clear and shallow water! That God, by His irresistible power, opens the spirit of mortal man to see, by the spirit, the events in the distance as clearly as the physical eyes see the events close by. How then does the All-seeing God Himself, see through the marrow of our bones, through the fog of our thoughts, and through all the secrets of our hearts? Because He is present at our thoughts even before they are born and present at our desires before they are conceived. He is the one undeceived and undeceivable witness of all events, external and internal, in the heights and in the depths, in the width and in the length. And He witnesses to our spirit truthfully, that which our soul desires to know for the sake of our good benefit and for the salvation of our soul.

O, All-seeing and All-wonderful Witness to all the secrets in heaven and on earth, the Creator and our Good Provider, You alone see the weakness of all of us. Help us, O help us, to learn that which is necessary for the sake of our eternal salvation.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.


HOMILY 27

About the Day of Christ and how Isaiah prophesied it

"Therefore My people shall know in that day that I am He that does speak: behold, it is I" (Isaiah 52:6).

Brethren, our God is the God of Truth. Even on the sun there are spots of darkness but on our God, there is not a spot of untruth. Every word spoken by God through the prophets came true. When the Word [Logos] of God became incarnate in Jesus Christ our Lord, then all the prophecies which referred to Him and which, for the Jews until then were dark enigmas, were revealed as clear as the sun. In the Holy Gospel it is said: "And the Word was made flesh" (St. John 1:14), the Pre-eternal word of God, the eternal Wisdom of God and the Son of God, the Word of God made flesh, every word of prophesy is revealed in bodily form. Until the Lord Christ came in the flesh to visit mankind, the scribes and readers of Holy Scripture could think of many words of the prophets, long and long unfulfilled, that those are only the words of the prophets as men and not words from God. But God did not permit anyone to think lowly of His prophets, that is why He said that men shall know "…in that day that I am He that does speak". Therefore, God wanted to give importance to every word of the prophets and wanted to teach men patience, to patiently await "that day", that wondrous day when the manifestation of the Lord on earth in the flesh will clearly cry out in every ear: "Behold, it is I!" He who recognized the Lord Jesus as God in the flesh, that one recognized in Him, simultaneously, that one Who spoke through the prophets.

"Behold, it is I!" thus speaks Christ today. "I am He" Who speaks through all the created universe. "I am He" Who spoke through the prophets. "I am He" Who, through the lips of the body spoke the words of eternal salvation. "I am He" Who spoke through the apostles, saints and teachers. "I am He" Who speaks and Who will continue to speak through My Holy Church until the end of time. "I am He" Who speaks and "I am He" about Whom it is spoken.

O Lord, to You be glory and thanks always. Amen.


HOMILY 28

About the forms of the Messiah

"And we saw that He had no form nor comeliness" (Isaiah 53:2).

This, the prophet speaks about Christ the Lord as a man: "He had no form nor comeliness!" How is it that He Who gave form to every created thing and who created the beautiful angels of heaven and all the beauty of the universe, that He did not have form and comeliness [beauty]? Brethren, this need not confuse you. He was able to appear in the manner in which He willed. But he did not want to appear in angelic beauty as He did not want to appear in royal power and in the luxury of the wealthy. He who enters a house of sorrow does not dress in the most beautiful clothes, neither does a doctor dress in his best clothes when he visits the gravely ill. But the Lord entered a house of sorrow and into a hospital. The body is the garment of the soul. He dressed in a simple garment to impress us, not by His dress but rather by the power of the spirit. We do not know exactly what His appearance was. According to tradition, His face was swarthy and His hair was of a chestnut color. When King Abgar sent Ananias his artist to paint the face of the Lord, he was not able to draw even a line on the cloth for, it is said that, Christ's face shown with an unusual light.

After all, even if Christ had clothed Himself in the most beautiful body, such a body as only He is able to fashion, what would that physical beauty of His be in comparison to the immortal beauty of His Divinity? The greatest earthly beauty is merely only a shadow of the heavenly beauty. The Prophet Daniel was a young and handsome man but when an angel of God stood before him, he himself said:

"…there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness turned in me into corruption" (Daniel 10:8). What is the face of man from earth in comparison to the likeness of an immortal angel of God? As darkness in comparison to the light! Of course, even the prophet looking at Christ the Immortal King in the flesh of man and comparing His earthly likeness with His Immortal likeness, had to cry out: "He had no form nor comeliness."

O Gentle and All-gentle Lord, Who for our sake was clothed in our miserable physical garment to serve us and not to frighten us, to You be glory and thanks, to You be glory and thanks.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.


HOMILY 29

About the healing of mankind by the wounds of Christ

"And by His stripes [wounds] we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5).

We are healed by the wounds of Christ. Thus, the prophet of God prophesies and we now know that his prophecy is true. By the suffering of Christ, we have been saved from eternal suffering; by His All-pure blood, we are cleansed of the leprosy of sin and are enlivened. Our blood and body became impure from sinful passions; but our spirit, the nest and source of bodily impurity, first became impure. Can the unclean be cleansed by the unclean? Can a dirty linen be washed with dirty water? It cannot.

Only that which is clean can wash that which is unclean. Even the pagans feel that mankind is impure. But, they [the pagans] want to cleanse the impure by the impure first, by invoking impure spirits and worshipping them. And second, by offering impure sacrifices, be they human or animal sacrifices. One drop of the blood of the All-pure Christ can cleanse mankind more than all of the idolatrous sacrifices from the beginning of the world. Why? Because the blood of Christ is pure and all else is impure. Physicians take one drop of a strong remedy and diluting it, vaccinate many people with it in order to protect them from disease. We even dilute the blood of Christ in the Chalice [Cup]with water and then we take it and drink it, for it is said that when they pierced the body of the Lord with a spear "there came out blood and water" (St. John 19:34). Such is the power from one drop of His blood that, the world could be burned by it. That is the sinless blood, the only sinless blood; the blood most-pure, the only pure blood in the world.

O, if men would only know what is the power of absolute purity! All the impure ones from sin would rush to cleanse themselves by the All-pure Christ and all the helpless ones would rush to partake of the Blood and Body of Christ [Holy Communion]; and all the unbelieving would believe in Christ. For there is three and all three are pure and all three purify: pure spirit, pure blood and pure body, and only the pure can purify the impure; and that which is healthy can heal the unhealthy; and that which is powerful can raise the helpless.

O Lord, our omnipotent Lord, cleanse us sinners by Your bloody wound, by Your innocent and all-pure wound.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.


HOMILY 30

About the mysterious ancestry [generation] of Christ

"…And who shall declare His generation?" (Isaiah 53:8).

As a hidden source of a great river, thus for the Jews the ancestry of the Lord Jesus was hidden. They read and knew that the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem, and He was born in Bethlehem but they did not recognize Him. They knew that the Messiah will come from the lineage of David and He was born of the lineage of David through His Most-holy Mother, but they did not recognize or acknowledge Him. They read that He will be born of a Virgin, that He will flee to Egypt and that He will be called out of Egypt and that His forerunner will appear before Him, "Crying in the wilderness" (St. Mark 1:3), and that He will shine as a great light in the darkness and in the shadow of the deadly land of Zebulon and Naphthali and all the rest that the prophets foretold and wrote as a sign of His coming. Still, they did not recognize or acknowledge Him, but rather they crucified the King of Glory as a criminal.

If He were an ordinary man, would the prophet inquire about His ancestry and origin? Whose ancestry and origin in the history of the people of Israel is not known? His ancestry is hidden as the ancestry of Melchisedek. It was hidden for the Jews and is always hidden for unbelievers but for us believers it is not hidden anymore. We know that He is "Light of Light, True God of True God, Begotten not made" [The Nicaean Creed]. That is He in eternity. We know that "He was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary" [The Nicaean Creed] and that He appeared in the world as man, as God-man. That is He, in time; wondrous, mysterious, glorious and majestic is His ancestry. When we say everything what was revealed to us about Him, nevertheless, we can still ask ourselves: "Who shall declare His generation [ancestry]?" Not because His ancestry is unknown but rather because His ancestry is unreachable, incomprehensible, beyond sensual and above nature.

O Lord Jesus Christ our God, enlighten us by Your divine mind and raise us up to You by Your man-loving power.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.


HOMILY 31

About the power and the mission of Christ, as Isaiah prophesied

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He has sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance to our God" (Isaiah 61: 1-2).

This great and programmed prophecy, the Lord Jesus read at the beginning of His saving work before the Jews in Nazareth and having read this, He sat down and said: "Today is this scripture fulfilled" (St. Luke 4: 16-21). One of the darkest prophecies for the Jewish scribes and priests, He read, closed the book and said: "Today is this scripture fulfilled." None of the Jews dared to touch this prophecy for no one knew to whom this prophecy pertains. Seven centuries have passed since this prophecy was spoken and written and no one knew to whom it pertains. And when that one [Christ] came, upon whom this prophecy pertains, He read it and applied it to Himself. Thus our great Lord justified His prophet and presented Himself to the world.

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me." Why does He speak so when He is equal to the Spirit as He is to the Father? As St. Chyrsostom interprets, it is for the sake of witnessing to the people. He does not say the grace of the Spirit [is upon Me], for the grace of the Spirit is upon the faithful people but the Spirit Himself is upon Him as was manifested on the Jordan river. The Spirit is the witness of the Son and the Son was never without the Spirit for one moment. The Lord Jesus often mentions the Father and the Holy Spirit first out of infinite love, toward the Father and the Spirit and love always ascribes its own to others and second for the sake of instruction to proud men that they do not emphasize themselves but rather to give honor to others, equal to themselves.

Everything else that is said in this wonderful prophecy, the Lord fulfilled by His miraculous works, word for word. He came primarily to proclaim the mercy of God to men but at the same time, to proclaim the Dread Judgment to those who would despise and reject that mercy.

This is the vision of Isaiah, the son of Amos, the prophet of God, the true prophet.

Brethren, let us venerate Isaiah whose God-inspired mouth foretold the Savior and our salvation and let us worship without ceasing our wonderful Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

We worship You our Lord and Savior and we give You thanks for Your All-wise plan for our salvation.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen. 


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