Spiritual Instruction on the Feast of the Theophany
This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.
Mt 3:17; 17:5
Thus did the voice of the pre-eternal God the Father speak to people about the pre-eternal God the Son, when the Son, at the behest of the Father, through the action of the Spirit, became incarnate of the Virgin and wrought the salvation of perishing mankind. Brothers! Let us show obedience to the Son of God, as God desires of us, that Divine good will might abide with us.
Perhaps someone might say, "I would like to obey the Son of God; but how can this be done, when two thousand years have passed since our Lord Jesus Christ dwelt on earth in the flesh and preached His all-holy teaching?"
It is very easy for us to be continually with Christ, to ceaselessly hear His sweet voice, and to nourish ourselves with His life-giving teaching; for the Lord Jesus Christ still abides with us. He abides with us in His Holy Gospels, through the Holy Mysteries of the Church; He abides through His omnipresence and omnipotence—bountifully, as befits the boundless, all-perfect God. That the Lord abides with us is plainly proved by souls freed from the captivity of sin, the bestowal of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and by many signs and wonders.
Those who wish to approach the Lord and unite with Him in blessed union forever should begin this sacred work with scrupulous study of God's words; they should begin by studying the Gospels, where Christ can be found, and from which Christ speaks and acts. The words of the Gospels are spirit, and they are life (Jn. 6:63). They turn a fleshly man into a spiritual man, and revitalize a soul deadened by sin and the cares of life. They are spirit, and they are life— beware of trying to explain the great word of the Spirit with your reason, which crawls upon the earth; beware of attempts to explain words filled with awesome Divine power in ways that might seem simpler to your deadened soul, deadened heart, and deadened mind. A word spoken by the Holy Spirit can only be explained through the Holy Spirit.
Those who wish to approach the Lord in order to hear His Divine teaching, to be enlivened and saved by Him—come and stand before the Lord with utmost reverence and holy fear, as do the bright Angels, His Cherubim and Seraphim. Your humility will turn the earth upon which you stand into heaven. The Lord will speak to you from His Holy Gospels as to His beloved disciples! May the holy fathers who expound the Holy Gospels through the gift of the Holy Spirit be your guides to an exact and unmistaken understanding of the Holy Gospels.
It is folly to approach the Gospels, to approach the living Lord Jesus Christ Who abides in the Gospels, without the appropriate reverence, brazenly and self-reliantly. The Lord accepts only the humble, who are filled with an awareness of their sinfulness and nothingness and with repentance, while He turns away from the proud. By turning His face away from a brazen tempter—that is what I call an irreverent, light-minded, and cold listener—He strikes that tempter with eternal death. The God-inspired elder Symeon announced the incarnate God the Word thus: Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against (Lk. 2:34). The word of God is a rock, a rock of immeasurable breadth and weight; And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken (Mt. 21:44), and his brokenness cannot be restored whole.
Brothers, let us be reverent and active hearers of the Word of God! Let us show submission to the Heavenly Father, Who spoke to us today from His Holy Gospels about His all-holy Word: This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him (Mt. 3:17; 17:5). We shall hear Him! We shall hear Him! And the good-will of the Heavenly Father shall abide with us unto the ages of ages. Amen.
St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov)