FOR US MEN AND FOR OUR SALVATION CAME DOWN FROM HEAVEN, AND WAS INCARNATED BY
THE HOLY SPIRIT AND OF THE VIRGIN MARY, AND BECAME MAN.
Just as a mother bends down and leans over a tearstained baby in a crib, so does the descent of the Creator of men into this temporal and visible world correspond to His miraculous existence in eternity. We men and our salvation were the reason for His descent, and the manner-being born of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary. Who says so? If we men said this, one could doubt it. But He himself said it, the One whom no one who bears the image of God in himself can doubt.
He himself, the True One, said of Himself, that He came to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many" (Matt. 20:28). Naturally this meant to serve men and to give Himself as a ransom for men. This is the purpose of His descent. And no man revealed the manner of His descent (who would have believed him?), but an archangel of God. The archangel of God Gabriel revealed it to the Virgin Mary in Nazareth:
"Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. "When Mary asked, "How can this be, since I have no husband?" the archangel of God answered: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God." If anyone among you asks in amazement, how this is possible, God's herald of glad tidings will answer him, just as he answered the Most Holy Virgin when he said: "For with God nothing will be impossible" (cf. Luke 1:28-37). Instead of questioning and probing, silence and gladness are more fitting here-silence on account of the sublime mystery, and gladness on account of the almighty power of our God and Creator.
The Son of God and the Son of the Virgin-the One Begotten in heaven and Born on earth, existing in eternity and in time. This is your Messiah, O chosen people, and your Savior. Begotten in eternity of the Father without a mother. Born in time of the Mother without a father.
Whoever wishes to understand this completely, let him say whether he fully comprehends the grain of sand beneath his feet, or a leaf on a tree, or the stars in the firmament. Has he understood the tiniest creature of God, which he tramples, or sees, or touches? Has the human mind, which for thousands and thousands of years has been probing, counting, measuring, comparing, describing-has it fully comprehended a single work of God in this world?
This world is miraculous; the whole world breathes miracles. This world is mysterious; the whole world is censed with the incense of awesome and sublime mysteries. How much more miraculous is the Creator of this world? At any point where eternity comes into contact with time, where heaven comes into contact with earth, a great light appears. And it is light which is incomprehensible to you, and not darkness. The Holy Virgin in Nazareth was that blessed point, where eternity came into contact with time, where heaven came into contact with earth. And from that point a great light came forth, which began to shine over the entire world. It is light which is incomprehensible to you, blessed people, and not darkness.
Probe, blessed people, with humility and fear; probe with your mind whatever God has created, but believe whatever He has revealed concerning Himself and His own great essence. "For we walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Cor. 5:7). Is God a man, that His fatherhood and birth should be like the fatherhood and birth of a man? Human fatherhood and birth is only a symbol, only a shadow and a pale picture of God's fatherhood and birth. It is not revealed to us, and therefore, we cannot know, what sort of role the Holy Spirit played in the begetting of the Son of God in eternity. What use is it to probe where God is silent and has not revealed. But God has revealed to us through the archangel Gabriel something about the role of the Holy Spirit in the birth of the Son of God in time. And what the Most High has deigned to reveal through His bodiless herald of glad tidings-this one thing we do know. We know, namely, that the Holy Spirit descended upon the Virgin Mary in Nazareth, and that the power of the Most High overshadowed her. Thus eternity came into contact with time, heaven with earth, the spiritual with the physical, and the great Light appeared, which has illumined the world and you who are in the world. In this manner the Holy Virgin conceived in her body, and gave a body to the One who deigned to be the Messiah and Savior, and appear as a man among men.
“…and became man.” Why did the Holy Fathers of Nicaea also include this phrase, when they had already said: ". . . and was incarnated?" Was not this phrase sufficient, and sufficiently clear? He was incarnated, He assumed bodily form, He appeared in bodily form-is this not sufficient? In no way. The bodily forms in the universe are many and varied. In ancient times God revealed Himself to the Israelites in the form of a pillar of fire and a cloud. The Holy Spirit appeared at the River Jordan in the form of a dove. It was necessary to state precisely in what sort of body the Son of God appeared in the world. He appeared in the bodily flesh of man; not in the form of a man, like the Spirit appeared in the form of a dove-God forbid!-but as an actual physical man. As an actual, true man He appeared, and not as an illusory man. Therefore, both these phrases are said: "and (He) was incarnated ... and became man."
He showed us honor, the greatest honor that could ever be shown, when He, as the Lover of Mankind, descended among us as one of us. Out of eternal glory and joy and beauty; He came down into our inglorious valley of sorrow and ugliness, for the sake of us men and for our salvation.
Just as a king sends his heralds to a city and announces his arrival, so also did the King of heaven, who out of his love for mankind wished to appear on earth, send His heralds to the human race and announced His arrival. At last He "degraded Himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men" (Phil. 2:7). And all this degrading He voluntarily took on Himself - for the sake of us men and our salvation.
This faith is offered by God to all men and to all generations on earth. But the impure cannot accept it, so long as they do not repent and are not cleansed of their injustice, arrogance and cruelty. How could those who have distorted the image of God within themselves accept this faith? The voice of heaven does not find an echo in the blown-down power lines of their souls. When the King of heaven completely sweeps open the curtain of mysteries with His hand and appears in clouds of angels to judge-it will be grievous, oh how grievous and dreadful it will be at that time for wicked unbelievers! But blessed and blessed are pure and chaste souls! A thousand times blessed are those who cleanse their souls of their wickedness in time and accept and keep the faith of God in themselves-the heavenly peace in their pure hearts and righteous souls. They shall not be put to shame in heaven by the holy and most pure Virgin Mother of God, and from her Son they shall receive blessing and eternal life.
This is your faith, Christ-bearers, the faith of your pure and chaste forefathers. Let it also be the faith of your children, from generation to generation, until the end of time. This is the faith which has never been put to shame, the Orthodox Faith, the faith of light, truth and consolation. This is the faith of the greatest, best and noblest people in your race, and in every race on earth. Truly, this is the faith of the truly chosen people, of those who bear the image of God in themselves. At the Judgment they shall be called blessed.
The herald of glad tidings - the Mother of God - the Lover of Mankind.