Sermon of Bishop Mitrophan (Znosko-Borovsky) on the Sunday Before Epiphany
We have just begun a new year. These days the wondrous song resounded in our hearts: "Glory to God in the Highest," and we have praised Divine Providence with all our beings, Who was revealed to us through Jesus Christ His love for mankind. But following these words of glorification of the Most-High are the words "Peace on earth, good will toward men" (Luke 2:14).
Today, as we stand on the threshold of the Epiphany, I would like to wish everyone peace, without which each person suffers greatly. But whence this peace? Does it exist on earth? Yes, my dear friends, such peace has existed on earth since the appearance in the world of the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ. Not that peace which we might seek to obtain from the world, which wallows in sin. The peace that is created spiritually, the blessed and gracious peace granted to us by Christ. It is from Him that we obtain real peace.
When the Apostles received this peace from Christ, they no longer feared loss, peril, persecution, for they recognized and sensed that Christ Himself was with them, Christ our peace. And the Christians of the first centuries, inspired by the peace of Christ, lived together “with one soul and one heart.” With prayers for their enemies and with joy in their hearts, these martyrs accepted their torments, for peace abided in their hearts, that blessed peace of Christ.
Even now, in our Homeland, enslaved by international Marxism, many, many of our brothers firmly stand amid the persecution, holding fast to Christ, joyfully accepting exile and execution, supporting and helping each other. Did we not hear how the Sauls of today, once persecutors and blasphemers against Christ, the Son of God, now wander like pilgrims throughout the towns and cities, emboldening and supporting the faithful? Who are these wanderers? They are people who received the peace of Christ, with faith in Christ the Son of God, and even the worst circumstances are powerless to disrupt this peace. Neither evil nor insult exist for the person who accepts the peace of Christ, it is all meaningless for him, having the peace of Christ within, he does not even sense them, they do not touch his heart, and he has a warm, tender attitude towards all. Servant of God Nikolai Sergeevich Arseniev was just such a person, who was with us not so long ago. And if someone says that the common man cannot in our times obtain the peace of Christ, he is lying, for Christ is “the same yesterday, and today, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8). Christ is attainable for everyone as the Head and Wellspring of peace. Who is with Christ, not just in idle words, but in works, in life, with him is Christ, too.
By what means are we to receive this blessed peace? Apply prayer to your faith in the Son of God and your love for Him, pray consciously, knowing that you stand unworthy before God, apply humility and calmness of heart. By recognizing your unworthiness, through meekness and prayer, the peace of Christ will abide in your heart, and nothing in this world can take it away, nothing with confound it, even bodily ailments, for we live in mortal flesh.
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you” (John 14:27), said the Lord to His disciples, and says to us now. You and I are His disciples. May the Almighty grant us wisdom and strength to obtain the blessed peace of Christ. Amen.