Friday, April 17, 2009

St John of San Francisco's Sermon Before the Shroud

The following is my translation of a brief homily given by St John of Shanghai and San Francisco before the burial shroud (Greek, Επιτάφιος; Slavonic, Плащаница):
A mournful assembly. A sorrowful sight. A dead body is before us, albeit not an ordinary dead body. Lying before us is the King of heaven and earth, the Creator of the entire universe. He died for us. We sinned, and He suffered. People transgressed the law of God, departed from God; and God, wishing to draw them to Himself in love, suffers and dies for us. God could not suffer and die in His Divinity, and therefore He was incarnate and suffered and died in His humanity, never ceasing to be God. Yet He does this all for us, in order to demonstrate His love for us.

With what gratitude must our hears be filled for Him!

How can we worthily thank Him?

Flowers have been brought to His grave; He is surrounded with candles. The Lord does not reject these sacrifices, but He desires something else from us, and only with this will he accept our other offerings. My Son, give me thine heart (Proverbs 23: 26), said God through the Holy Scriptures of the Old Testament. The Lord awaits our heart – this is what we should present to Him. To love His commandments and teaching, and to fulfill them – this is gratitude to the One Who has suffered for us, which is pleasant and pleasing to Him.
See also Archbishop Andrei of Rockland's homily before the shroud here, as well as more Holy Friday links here.

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