понедељак, 8. април 2013.

Sermon of Bishop Akakije, Annunciation 2013

In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit the Paraclete!

               Today we celebrate a feast of lofty purity and chastity.  Every feast of the Mother of God is a feast of glorification and wonder at her virtues of blamelessness and chastity.  That is why the Holy Church ordains that for all of the feasts of the Theotokos the clergy wear blue vestments, because that color according to liturgical symbolism represents lofty purity and blamelessness.
               Today we celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation, or the Conception of Our Lord Jesus Christ.  The Slavic word “Blagovest” is a translation of the Greek word Evangelismos, that is, the Gospel, and the Gospel, according to St. Gregory Palamas, is the coming of the Son of God, His Incarnation, and the granting to those who believe in Him eternal, unending life.  Today God sends the Archangel to the Galilean city of Nazareth, to the Virgin Mary, who possessed purity in its fullness, being a virgin in body, soul, and the powers of her soul. There was nothing within her deserving of reproach.  She was like the closed treasury doors and sealed book which preserves sacred writings hidden from human view, as the Old Testament Prophets wrote of her, “This is the sealed book,” and “the doors will be shut and no one shall pass through them.”  She virginally conceived and in a divine, miraculous way bore the Lord of all, without the least harm to her virginity.  In Orthodox icons of the Mother of God, you can notice three stars: one on the forehead and the other two on the shoulders of her clothing.  These three stars symbolize this great mystery of virginal conception and birth: she was a virgin before, during, and after birthgiving.  Let us remember the curse spoken to our first mother Eve,  “In pain will you bear children.”  Today we hear something entirely different:  “Rejoice thou who art full of grace! The Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women!”  With this comparison we can perceive the Most Holy Virgin’s participation in the mystery of our salvation, for as through the old Eve death entered into the world, so through the New Eve, the Most Holy Theotokos, life entered.  When the Archangel Gabriel came to convey God’s will to her, to these glad tidings she replied for all of us, “Behold the handmaiden of the Lord.  Let it be according to thy word.”  Furthermore, this is the very opposite from that which the old Eve did when God commanded Adam and her not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Behold, with this unquestioning obedience and acceptance of the will of God, she became worthy to become the mother in the flesh of God Himself, Our Lord Jesus Christ.  With this she ensured all of us salvation.  What is more, today, the feast of the Annunciation, is her feast, and today we especially prayerfully glorify her, offering various divine service hymns and praises, and as the pinnacle of gratitude, this holy Liturgy. 
The intercessor of the Christian race, as the Church and Christians from antiquity have called her, the Most Holy Theotokos, keeps watch over us day and night, and helps us along our thorny way through this world, on the cross-bearing way to the Heavenly Kingdom.  The Most Holy Theotokos and all of God’s saints listen to our prayers with especial care on the feastdays dedicated to them.  That is why, today, with an especial plea, we prayerfully turn to her to accept all of our prayers, all of our sighs, all of our bitter tears and sufferings, to help our much-suffering Christ-named Serbian nation, lost and far away from faithfully serving Her Son Our Lord Jesus Christ.  We beg her to help our people return to the way of true Svetosavlje, and to return to consciousness, to come to their senses from the delirium and darkness of the godless Jewish achievements of Communism, Democracy and the most soul-destroying heresy of Ecumenism, and to realize that a Serb without true, patristic, St. Sava’s Orthodoxy and an Orthodox Autocracy is nothing and no one, the most miserable creature on planet Earth, and as such deserves God’s every chastisement.  We must know this, especially in these unfortunate and fateful times when the already spiritually and physically destroyed and fragmented Serbia has been given an ultimatum by the great world powers to comply with the bloody occupation and theft of her centuries-old, historical region, the heart of Serbia, Kosovo and Metochia.  We must know that one is only Serbian, a Serb blessed by God, when he is a loyal servant of Christ and when he believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, when he strives with all his might to live according to His evangelical commandments in unwavering loyalty to Holy Orthodoxy and holy Svetosavlje. 
 Yes, this is the only reality of today’s fatal events for our people and our fatherland.  If we labor for the salvation of our souls and the pursuit of the Heavenly Fatherland, the Lord will bless and save not only us, but also our earthly fatherland.  If we do not fulfill the first condition, then the second can never be fulfilled.  And to fight for the second without the first is a futile work which is doomed from the start for complete destruction.  These are unchangeable laws of heaven of which every Serb must be aware.  Maybe it is unrealistic to expect that our people will come to a national repentance; but it is completely realistic  for everyone to work on his own spiritual rebirth, and thus in a mystical way those around us will be converted.  Let us remember the story of the fall of Constantinople and the vision of five fingers which the Sultan had, and the interpretation which the enslaved patriarch gave him:   If there had been only five Christians in Constantinople faithful to Orthodoxy and right-living, the City would not have fallen, that is, God would not have allowed the City to be destroyed.  Of course, the number five is symbolical and shows us that it would have been pleasing to God, and that He would have defended the Constantinople, only in the case that one part of the Constantinopolitans, even if in comparison to their fellow-citizens a small number, had remained faithful to Orthodoxy and right-living.  So, let every one of us strive to remain unwavering in right faith and give all we have for our personal spiritual rebirth, so that we might be numbered in that “five” who changed God’s punishment into His blessing, that the Serbian nation be saved, and Serbia defended from complete, final destruction. 
               Through the prayers of Our Most Holy Theotokos, may the Lord grant that as many Serbs as possible be delivered from the beastly claws of the great apostasy, and be deified, unite, and multiply, so that the Lord would then bless us with every good blessing, heavenly and earthly, and thus blessed, we may thank and glorify, already here on earth, and also in the Heavenly Kingdom, the Most Holy Trinity Our God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit the Paraclete, now and ever and unto the endless ages of ages, Amen. 

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