The Smolensk cemetery in St. Petersburg is like a sleeping child—profound peace and purity wafts through its alleys. What don’t we come to Blessed Xenia for! To cry over our woes, to pray for success—and each person is locked inside himself, his troubles or joys… In his prayer. And this is understandable; it would be terrible to come to St. Xenia just to have a look at the people. But for the first time I have come to the Blessed One not for the sake of prayer but for the sake of those who are praying. I look around and peer at them.
In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
How short, and how well known today’s parable, and yet, how intense its message, how challenging...
Towards the Jordan
The ancient Biblical region with its history, place-names, architecture, art, and traditions attracts the attention of many people. Believers have a special attitude towards it: Here the Bible comes back to life and the desert wind blows away millennial boundaries. Though my trip was planned in advance, it took place not immediately but coincided with my birthday, as a gift from above. The itinerary was formed of opportunities and wishes, and one of the main wishes was to immerse myself in the waters of the Jordan River. The bathing place is located seven kilometers (c. 4.35 miles) from the town of Jericho. And, as it turned out, the town itself is quite interesting and likes Russian speech.
As we celebrate the Epiphany, we remember how God revealed himself as the Trinity, that Jesus appeared to the people as Christ. Where did Christ appear Hos did He begin His mission? Did He enter a great city and reveal Himself in His glory? Did He ascend a great mountain as many thousands of people beheld Him from below, wondering at the miracle? No! Christ went into the wilderness, to the Jordan River, where John was baptizing the people. John preached repentance, and called upon sinners, in a sign of repentance, to be baptized in the Jordan. And it was as a sinner that Christ came and asked for baptism. Yet He had no sin. John was afraid: “I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). Adam sinned through pride, he wished to elevate himself, to become like God. But Christ cam to fulfill the truth of God, to correct Adam’s pride through humility. Christ entered the water and received baptism from His servant. Trembling, John placed his hand upon his God and Master, and Christ humbly bowed His head. Christ’s humility opened up the heavens, and the voice of God the Father boomed forth: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). This is My Son, Who humbled Himself in order to fulfill My will, My true Son, Who humbles Himself in order to elevate mankind. Christ’s meekness opened the heavens and revealed to mankind the Trinitarian nature of God.
Thirty-first Sunday after Pentecost; Sunday after Theophany; The Holy Martyr Polyeuctus; The Holy Hieromartyr Phillip, Metropolitan of Moscow
RESURRECTIONAL TROPARION - TONE SIX: The angelic powers were at Thy tomb; and the guards became as dead men; and Mary stood by Thy grave, seeking Thy most pure Body. Thou didst capture hell, not being tempted by it. Thou didst come to the Virgin, granting life. O Lord who rose from the dead: Glory to Thee!
Thirtieth Sunday after Pentecost;
Sunday before Theophany; Venerable Seraphim of Sarov;
Saint Sylvester, Bishop of Rome
RESURRECTIONAL TROPARION - TONE FIVE: Let us, the faithful, praise and worship the Word, coeternal with the Father and the Spirit, born for our salvation from the Virgin; for He willed to be lifted upon the Cross in the flesh, to endure death, and to raise the dead by His Glorious Resurrection.