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For Epiphany: St. Maximus on Christ, the Manifestation of God

January 6, 2017

This being the Feast of the Epiphany, here again is a good passage from Faith and Life for that day, by St. Maximus.

He who was ever God with the Father, and ever was reigning, was pleased to appear to men, in a new and mysterious manner, through the Virgin; He was new as Man, but everlasting as the Lord; new as Christ, but the King of all the ages. He who before all ages proceeded as the Only-begotten from the Father, was born of Mary in the end of times. This is He who was foretold by Patriarchs, proclaimed by Prophets, heralded by Angels, accepted by Apostles. It is of one and the same that you read, “In the beginning was the Word,” and, ” The Word was made flesh.” Rejoice, therefore, and exult, thou Gentile world, now at length converted to thy God. Thou hast received the gift which Abraham rejoiced to have seen in spirit; thou hast gained by Christ what the chosen Hebrew race of old could not gain. For Israel, as we read, in fear and trembling marvelled that Moses, the chief of the people, was talking alone with God, wrapt in the cloud and on the peak of a high mountain. But unto thee has Christ been in such wise born, and with such vast graciousness has He bestowed Himself on us, as to speak to all and be seen by all. Whoever of the people drew near at that time to Mount Sinai, was punished with instant destruction; but whoever does not draw near to this Mountain, will die. Do thou, therefore, welcome the graciousness of the Eternal Majesty, and discuss not the mysterious will of thy God; for unto all indeed is Christ born, but it is to the faithful that He gives salvation. But if it seems to thy weak thought unfitting to believe that the Son of God was born of a woman; bethink thee that His Mother was a Virgin. If His being wrapt in swathingbands strikes thee as a meanness, admire the Angels and the multitude of the heavenly host singing His praises. If thou despisest the manger in which He lay as an infant, lift up thine eyes awhile and gaze on that new star in Heaven, proclaiming to the world the Lord’s Nativity. If thou believest in what seems poor, believe in what is wonderful; if thou disputest about what belongs to humiliation, revere what is high and heavenly. For it is by the same narrators, the same authorities, that thou hast learned about our Lord and Saviour what is humble and what is glorious; the whole body of facts, which belonged to the mystery of thy salvation, have been brought to light for thee by the Holy Gospels.

–St. Maximus, Sermon on the Nativity.

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