Митрополит Антоний Сурожский

On Christening of a Child

12 December 1971
Theme: Sacraments, The vocation of man, Children and parents   Place: London Parish   Period: 1971-1975   Genre: Sermon

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

I so often call you to compassion, I so often suggest that we should share in the pain and in the sorrow of someone that at times we forget how often we could with all our heart, with all our joy, participate in the gladness of a family or of a person, and today it is to gladness that I wish to call you all.

Today a child was baptised, a child whom God has given as a precious token to a family, a child whom He has willed into the world, called to enter into it through the gate of a transitory life, in order to outgrow its transitory quali­ty, to outgrow time, to be possessed already now of eternity, and one day to grow to the full stature of Christ and become a citizen of the eternal Kingdom of God. A child is given to a family, entrusted to parents, entrusted also to the God-parents, but also to all those who are God’s own people in the world in which we live: those who believe in Him, those who trust Him, those who love Him and who, in this faith, in this hope, in this love learn also to have faith in one another, to hope for all things for one another and to love one another so earnestly, so completely as to be ready, if need be, to lay down their lives, to pour out all their being for each other.

How frail a child is; how great the need for an earnest thoughtful love! And this frailty does not apply only to the body; how frail man is in the face of the world in which we live with all that beguiles and all that deceives, all that is destructive, all that kills; not the body, — the soul. And it is our common responsibility, together with the parents and the family, together with the God-parents to carry the child throughout life in our prayers, in our concern.

But we are not only at the giving end; the power of God is made manifest in weakness, the glory of God is made manifest in the most unconspicuous things. Has not the Lord said to us that we should become like children? When a child is born in a family, the parents themselves must learn from the child. They must go back, together with him, into the spirit of childhood, into innocency. A child is trustful, a child is surrendered, a child does not think of evil, a child is hel­pless and ready to receive help, a child bears no resentment and is always ready to go back trustfully and lovingly to those who will be ready and capable of showing love and trust.

There is a great deal more one can learn from a child; and, protecting his purity, helping him to grow to the full stature of Christ in mind and in heart, in will and in body, all those who are around the child can learn, can again walk, tread this road which they have trodden once and from which we all have erred. The child born to a family can be a guide and a teacher into purity and innocency, in­to a wholehearted discovery, with new wisdom, with new depth, both of God and of men, of the world with all its complexity and all its wonderful calling to fullness.

Therefore, let us keep in our prayers, keep in our love the family of Christopher and Juliet to whom Nicholas was given, both as a token of divine love, as one whom they must lead by the hand into the fullness of his vocation and also one who can, day after day, teach them those things which we, grown ups, so easily and so terribly forget, lead them to that state of the child which opens to us the Kingdom of God. Amen.

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