“We have found Him of whom
Moses in the law, and also the
prophets, wrote – Jesus of Nazareth,
the son of Joseph”
to his colleague, dear sisters and brothers,
is not a mere figure of speech . It is not a
mere thought. It is a confession of faith. And
today, the Sunday of Orthodoxy, is the day of
Faith par excellence. Those of us who have
been baptized and ‘put on Christ’, God incarnate,
must today at least concentrate and see
the meaning of such a central part of today’s
“What Moses has written in the
law and the prophets, we have
all the theories, all the mythologies of
the ancient peoples, who believed that the
Divine is far away, because it is invisible.
Sometimes they also believed that it is nonexistent.
They did not believe that God could become
a human being. They would more easily
and more often believe that a mortal
person could become God, and so we see
Nero and Hitler, and so many subsequent gods by their own imagination, denying the true
God who made all things visible and invisible.
We do not believe in a God who is merely
an idea. We believe in a God who, out of such
love for humanity, became Himself a human
being, in order to teach true humaness. Because
the entirety of true humaness leads directly
to God, whom philosophers conceived as a
Prophets proclaimed Him. Notice in a few
days, during Holy Week, the readings of the
Prophets. You will see how they describe
Him many centuries before His Incarnation.
They describe in detail the Son of God, the
son of Mary, who was to come in the flesh.
They describe Him because they ‘foresaw’
Him, envisaged Him, sensed Him coming.
(Rev. 1:8). I am the One who is and moves all
things. I am the One who always existed.
And I am the One who is coming, and who is
to come at the end of the ages, to meet, to refine,
to elevate, to sanctify the human person.
celebrating today, sisters and brothers. Soon
we shall carry the Icons in a procession. Similarly
this evening, during the Vespers of Orthodoxy, we will bring our Icons to Church
as all Orthodox celebrate together every year.
It is a solemn confession on the part of the entire
people of God, that God became man for
our sake. And we saw Him, and we heard
Him, and we touched Him, and we tasted
Him, and we taste Him today, and every day,
that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8). We commune
of His Blood and eat His Body in order
to taste immortality through our mortality.
This fundamental truth was rejected by several
so-called ‘progressive people’ during
Byzantium, who said: “What do you want
Icons for? They are idolatry”. Thus arose the
great struggle of Iconoclasm. And how
greatly the faithful suffered! And what they
went through to save the Icons they venerated
and prayed before! Because we do not
worship the paint and wood of the Icon, but
the grace of Him who took human form,
in order to bring consolation to chaos – the
chaos made by us, you and I, together.
is all we manage to make. And whoever can
bring some form to the chaos, consoles those
“We venerate Your pure Icon, Good One…”
It is because He ‘appeared’ that we are comforted
by the Icon. If we were simply to imagine
Him, we would have made Him in our
own image. We would have given Him our own image. We would have given Him our
features. But we do not imagine Him – we
have seen Him! He was made known to people
like us. He lived among us.
truth. We beheld his glory, the glory which
he received as the Father’s only begotten
Son” (John 1:14). This is not idle talk. The
God of the philosophers was idle talk! The
God of the Christians is the living God who
became human, who comes to heal infirmities,
to make the blind see, to make the lame
walk, to make the sinners repent, to make enemies
love one another, to make those who
have lost their way Saints.
the chaos of the world, is what we celebrate
today, brothers and sisters, in honouring the
sacred Icons. The Iconoclasts did not understand
the Church’s Faith. For whoever rejects
the Icon also rejects the Incarnation. Can anyone
be a Christian while denying the Incarnation
aggression and suffering caused by the Iconoclast
Emperor of Constantinople, the faithful
were forced to throw their sacred Icons
into the wells of the city, into the water, so
that the enemies would not find them.
This is why Constantinople has so many sites with holy water. One may ask: ‘How come
there are so many
sources of holy water? Is that the only place that holy water
springs forth?’ No. But it was because the Icons were hidden in so
many wells. And so, as a result, the waters were sanctified, and
can still be found today in Vlacherna, Baloukli, Potira and many
other churches of that longsuffering and glorious City of Christians,
it is the Sunday of triumph for the Faith. The triumph of the love
of God, who came side by side with the human so as to draw towards
Himself the fallen, the sinful and the lost, since we all have
a tendency towards sin. He came for all of us.
always honour the Sunday of Orthodoxy, the restoration of the sacred
Icons achieved by Emperor Michael and his Mother Irene,
who are especially mentioned in the Synodikon of Orthodoxy, in
which we confess:
“This is the Faith of the Apostles,
this is the Faith of the Fathers,
this is the Faith of the Teachers,
this Faith has upheld the Universe”.
By Archbishop Stylianos of Australia, St Andrew’s Theological College – The first two decades (St Andrew’s Orthodox Press, Redfern, 2007), p. 71-79.