Today, the Lord says to those who are frightened: "Do not be afraid - John is born!" - Head of the UGCC

Wednesday, 08 July 2020, 21:33
Beginning his sermon during the Liturgy in the Patriarchal Cathedral in Kyiv on the feast of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, His Beatitude Sviatoslav noted that the biblical history of salvation often differs from the human interpretation of historical events.

 "If in human historiography the changes of epochs, historical periods are marked by wars or new inventions, then in the history of salvation the marker of change, beginning or end of an epoch is man, his coming into the world, and then departure to the Lord God," he said.

The Head of the Church noted that Luke placed a description of this event at the very beginning of his Gospel.  The Gospel also draws a parallel between Zechariah's prophecy in the temple and the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary in Nazareth. The birth of John, according to the Patriarch, heralds the beginning of something new, unheard of, unprecedented, so the very birth of John the Baptist is a prophecy.

The Head of the Church paid special attention to the circumstances of the birth of the latter, namely the discrepancy between the righteous life of Zechariah and Elizabeth and their physical infertility. Zechariah found the answer to his personal question in the temple, where, during ministering at the altar of incense, he saw an angel who announced to him that his prayer had been heard and that Elizabeth would give birth to a son. The child's name, John, means "God is merciful," explained His Beatitude Sviatoslav, adding that when a person confesses his helplessness before God, He is merciful.

"For with the birth of John the Baptist the infertility of Elizabeth is healed.  With his birth, the time of Zechariah's dumbness, which showed his infidelity, ends," said the preacher.

His Beatitude Sviatoslav also explained that it is with the Nativity of the Baptist that every person, through God's mercy, becomes able to accept the word of God, to carry it in his heart, and to proclaim it to the world through his voice and his life.

"With the birth of Saint John the Baptist, the fruitlessness of every human soul is healed.  After all, we often want to do good, but we do not have the strength to do so.  The Old Testament law said only what should be done, but did not give the power to do it," said the bishop.

Explaining the importance of the Gospel event for us who are experiencing a pandemic, His Beatitude Sviatoslav noted that human efforts today are fruitless in the face of this deadly disease.  "Man is in a state of anxiety because he does not know even how to plan his daily routine." To such a frightened man, who sees his weakness today, the Lord God says: "Do not be afraid - John is born!"

 "God, visit us!  Bring us good news!  Heal us and my heart shall rejoice in You,” the Head of the UGCC called for the conclusion of the sermon.


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