Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh

Be Unbreakable As Job (Christmas)

6 January 1977
Theme: Christ, Suffering and pain, Solidarity   Place: London Parish   Period: 1976-1980   Genre: Sermon

In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

When Christ was born into our world, that world was in a state of utter, tragic confusion, bitter and sorrowful. The suffering of people, both spiritual and material, was the same as it is today; people had lost their faith in the false, deceiving, tempting ideologies and gods. There was no firm foundation on which to base one’s life, and in people’s personal lives there was so much bitterness and misfortune. This is how Job, many centuries before Christ’s time, describes the despair and hopelessness of the ancient world: “My days are past, my purposes are broken off, even the thoughts of my heart. If I wait the grave is mine house, I have made my bed in the darkness and where is now my hope.” (Job 17).

Thousands of people in our own time could say the same thing — my earthly hope has gone. Job can serve as the image of countless people. He was robbed of all his possessions, his children perished, his body became diseased, he was abandoned by everyone, and his wife, wise with the wisdom of the world, told him to curse God and die. But Job remained unshakeable in his faith, and as Holy Scripture says, he did not ascribe madness to God, but he stood before Him in the full height of human greatness, not as a slave, not in fear, but in the great dignity of man praying for, demanding an answer without which he could not live.

During the course of his argument with God about the cleaning of life, about wisdom, about human righteousness and the righteousness of heaven, he exclaimed, “where then is he who will stand between me and my judge, who will put his hand on my shoulder and on his shoulder?” His words could be understood to mean: where is the one who, unashamed and undisgraced, can put his hand on me, rejected by God and men, and can at the same time put his hand on God’s shoulder, can unite us, can keep us together, and find a solution to this apparently insoluble problem. He foresaw that to stand in this way between him and his judge would be possible only to someone who was the equal of both, who was at the same time man and God.

Centuries passed and indeed his expectation, his hope was fulfilled; the one who was true God become man, came into the world and was able to put his hand on God’s shoulder, and being real, true man, could put his hand on man’s shoulder too, without crushing him and unite them in his own person, and bring them to each other. The God-man Jesus Christ is the only one who can unite us with God as His friends who have grown to the full measure of human dignity, and therefore can, together with Christ, become the sons and daughters of God Himself.

Today Christ is born into the world, and we are just as bewildered as were the people in the centuries preceding the birth of Christ, who had lost their faith in what they used to worship and did not know what else to seek. But we have nothing further to seek; only God, the living God who became man, who is one of us, near and dear to us, can resolve the consternation and despair both of the individual soul and of our present human situation. Therefore let us go to Him with confidence, let us go to His knowing that He did not remain afar while we suffered and sorrowed on earth; He is amongst us.

In the Book of Daniel is told the story of how King Nebuchadnezzar cast three faithful men into the fiery furnace and then came to see whether they had perished. In holy terror he exclaimed: “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? How is it then that I see four men, freely walking about in it, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God?” Christ entered into human history, He took its whole weight upon Himself, all the grief, all the horror, and He overcame all the bewilderment, horror and grief. It is to Him, and only to Him that we must go; He is the way and the truth and the life. Amen.


Published: Newsletter N. 83, February 1977

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