The 2nd Sunday from the month of Kiahk
“For He will save His people from their sins.”
The Pauline: Rom. 3:4-3
The Catholic: 1 Jn. 1:2-3
The Praxis: Acts 7:30-34
|The Bible: Luke 1:26-38|
26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”
29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”
35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible.”
38 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
When Archangel Gabriel appears and announces to the Virgin the incarnation of the Son of God from her, he actually announces to all people, that in Him, God’s promises of salvation from sin and death is fulfilled. For the incarnation is associated with salvation by the death of Jesus and His resurrection, so that “all of those who believe in Him” will receive the eternal life.
For salvation Christ came, and therefore any action to strip our Lord from the goal of His incarnation, or to deny his crucifixion, death and resurrection, deems His incarnation as having never taken place.
How grave would humanity’s fate have been if God had not visited us with His mercy, came to us through the incarnation and opened the gates of the heavenly kingdom for us. How miserable would the state of mankind have been, had we remained prisoners to Satan, sin and death, if the Creator had not come to redeem and free humanity from prison and gave it the gift of eternal life! What a poor and dark life man would have suffered if the Son of God did not come in the fullness of time in flesh and filled our life with light, happiness and hope.
Incarnation is the Pillar of the Christian Faith:
Incarnation, meaning that God took a human body, was the divine answer to the fall of man and his subjugation to death. As sinful humanity could not atone for its sins and escape death, God became a human being, equal to man in everything except sin which causes death. He atoned the sinners with His own blood. And when He victoriously rose from death, He announced His triumph over death and acquitted the sinners and gave eternal life to all those who believe in Him.
Incarnation is the foundation of the Christian Faith and its only associate. And Jesus Christ is God the Son who was incarnated to atone for humanity. To become incarnate, it was necessary for God to be born as a human being from a woman (Galatians 4:4). And in order for the body that God takes, to be free of sin to be able to atone for the sinners, He had to be born from a virgin without the natural union between a man and a woman. The Holy Bible mentions this divine plan immediately after the fall of mankind, when God said to the serpent (Satan) “it (the woman’s seed) shall bruise your head (Genesis 3:15). Here He attributes the seed not to a man (as the tradition goes) but to a woman. The prophesies also reveal the virginity of this “woman”: “The virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they will call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23, Luke 1:31-34).
Certainly, such a central event in the history of the relationship between God and Man, like the Divine Incarnation, has to have many implications on other aspects of mankind’s life and existence. But the salvation and atonement remain the immediate and prominent goal with the agreement of the Holy Bible, both Old and New Testaments, and the writings of the early fathers and the laws of the universal apostolic Church.
The Witness of the New Testament to the Relation between Incarnation and Salvation:
The verses of the New Testament clearly testify that the incarnation is related directly to salvation, as an immediate goal in the first place and from the very first moment:
+ When the angel was reassuring Joseph about St. Mary’s purity and that her pregnancy is through the Holy Spirit, scripture says: “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Mathew 1:20, 21). Therefore, even the name chosen for Him, as part of God’s great plan, was “Jesus”, and it indicates His ultimate mission of salvation.
+ When Jesus was born, the angel appears to the shepherds, heralding with great joy the coming of the Savior, saying: “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:9-11).
+ The gifts of the Magi to the Divine Infant give evidence to His identity and mission: gold indicates His high rank and that He is “Lord of Lords” (1Timothy 6:15, Revelation 17:14; 19:16). The myrrh represents the cup of suffering that He would swallow for the sake of humanity (Isaiah 50:6; 53:5, 7), and the frankincense prophesizes His great mission as the “High Priest over the house of God” who enters the Holy of Holies once and for all to “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself,” obtaining “eternal salvation” (Hebrews 9:12,26; 10:21). And He remains a Priest forever with an unchangeable priesthood: “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Psalms 110:4; Hebrews 7:21,24,25).
+ John the Baptist, who was born of a divine promise to two old people, as an angel who prepares the way before the Lord (Malachi 3:1, Mark 1:2), proclaims when introducing the Lord to the people: “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). It is the Lord’s first mission to carry the sin of the world in his body and away from the sinners’ shoulders.
+ The Lord reveals to Nicodemus how much He loves the world “for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3: 16,17). He also says: “for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world” (John 12:47).
+ In the day of salvation for Zacchaeus and his household, the Lord announces: “for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).
Thanks to our loving God, who visited us, descended to our world, took our body, and shared our sufferings, and for our salvation He gave Himself for every person, “Let us glorify Him, and exalt His name, for He had mercy on us, according to His great mercy.”
From the Sayings of St. Athanasius the Apostolic on the Incarnation
He Transferred Our Origin Into Himself
Whereas the flesh is born of Mary Bearer of God, He Himself (Son of God) is said to have been born, who furnishes to others an origin of being; in order that He may transfer our origin into Himself, and we may no longer, as mere earth, return to earth, but as being knit into the Word from heaven, may be carded to heaven by Him. Therefore in like manner not without reason has He transferred to Himself the other affections of the body also; that we, no longer as being men, but as proper to the Word, may have share in eternal life. For no longer according to our former origin in Adam do we die; but henceforward our origin and all infirmity of flesh being transferred to the Word, we rise from the earth, the curse from sin being removed, because of Him who is in us, and who has become a curse for us. And with reason; for as we are all from earth and die in Adam, so being regenerated from above of water and Spirit, in the Christ we are all quickened; the flesh being no longer earthly, but being henceforth made Word, by reason of God’s Word who for our sake “became flesh”.