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May 3, 2024

Homily Two on Holy and Great Friday Before the Shroud (St. John of Kronstadt)

By St. John of Kronstadt

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29)

Behold, my brethren, the Lamb of God, who took upon Himself our sins, my sins, the sins of each of you. Here is the incarnate Son of God, the only begotten, tormented by human envy and malice! What humanity! Oh, how gloomy and disgusting is the picture of human malice! Let us fall down before Him in confession and weep before the Lord who created us and at the end of the ages suffered and died for us. With fear and love, let us fall with our hearts and lips to these wounds; with fear: for until now our sins stink before Him and cry out for punishment for us; with love: for these wounds and His death were taken by Him out of inexpressible love for us, and naturally call us to love!

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.” How gratifying these words are for the soul of a believer! In them lies our strong hope for the endless mercy of the Heavenly Father, who was reconciled with us lawless people through the sacrifice of righteousness offered on the cross for our sins, that is, the eternal sacrifice of His Son. How many times have we sinned in one day and hour, not to mention the sins of our entire accursed life. How did our sins torment us? But we repented with faith and trust in our hearts, looked up to the Savior, sighed, shed tears over our sins: and now they were cleansed, washed, forgiven; we have found peace, freedom, joy.

What does it mean? This means that the Lamb of God, every day, every hour of all the days of our life, takes away our sins, removes, cleanses, forgets them, saving us from eternal condemnation for them. Who hasn't experienced this? And that’s why, in front of such a bloody, soul-shattering spectacle, we stand reliably, and, although with sadness, but sadness imbued with tenderness, joy and some kind of solemnity: for we are sure that in this Dead Man lies the life of all living, reconciliation with God, forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life.

All over the universe, with the most reverent tenderness, Christians now venerate the wounds of the Savior, and tenderly kiss them, and everywhere, with all the hearts of believers, the life-giving power of the saving suffering and death of the Lord is felt: for He continually and everywhere takes away the sins of all repentant sinners, has mercy, cleanses, renews, and saves.

O our Savior! From how many spiritual deaths You saved me and each of us. I confess today, at this hour, before this pious assembly, O my Savior, Your mercies, revealed to me, a sinner more than all people, that You saved me from countless spiritual deaths, saved and are saving me from all sorrows, from all falls. And it is only by Your mercy that I am not yet in the pit of destruction, for I will say with the prophet David: “The pangs of death surrounded me, and the floods of ungodliness made me afraid. The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me; the snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried out to my God” (Ps. 17:5-7). And He always bowed mercifully to the cry of my heart, showed me His wonderful salvation, forgave my sins, destroyed my sorrows and led me out of terrible cramped conditions into the openness.

Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away my sins! Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away your sins! Come, let us kiss the wounds of this Lamb, who took away the sins of the world, with tears of repentance and with love. You, in Your innumerable Grace, the Lord of heaven and earth, send down Your blessing upon us, awaken in us sincere repentance and unfeigned love; be patient with the world perishing in sins, and with Your amazing signs awaken it from the heavy sleep of sin. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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