Saint Sophrony the Athonite (+July 11, 1993) is one of the most beloved orthodox Christian elders of our times. In this rare audio recording he talks about the Incarnation of our Saviour.
Essex Monastery, May 6th, 1991
English translation adapted after the Romanian version of Fr. Rafail Noica, Cuvantari Duhovnicesti I (12).
Background music: Romanian carols, Durau Monastery
What has the Lord shown us? – “Whoever wants to be saved and come to the Father, let him follow me” (cf. Lk. 9:23, John 14:6 ). And what did He do? He put off His omnipotence, He put on the form of existence created by Him (His “existence”, not His “being”). He emptied Himself even to the end, which we cannot reach, and gave Himself up to be killed, to be crucified. And for that He received a Name that is above every other name in the earthly history or in Heaven (see Phil. 2:7–10). And He offered us this way (cf. John 14:6). We Christians confess Him as “only begotten” from the Father – just as He says (cf. John 1:18): we do not compare Him with any of the teachers of mankind – such as Buddha, Mohammed, and even Moses. He is not by His birth a son of man, but through His condescension and incarnation He became the “Son of Man” (see Matt. 11:9), remaining in essence the Creator of everything that exists.
The Creed says: “by Whom all things were made.” And in the prologue of the Gospel of John it is said: “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:3). And behold, He put off all this and gave Himself to be crucified. From this comes the law that we must remember at every hour – that by giving our lives to others, we receive from them slander, persecution, poverty, rejection and even death. In exchange for the life we give them, people reward us by burdening us with their death, and this is our way. The Lord speaks of this: “that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God” (Luke 16:15).