A Sermon on the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos By Metropolitan Moses
A Sermon on the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos
By Metropolitan Moses
Today we celebrate the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos. On this feast we commemorate the miraculous gathering of the holy Apostles from the ends of the world to be present at the repose of the Mother of God. Once again Thomas was not present by divine economy and, upon his arrival, when they opened the tomb again for him it was empty. Her soul has been reunited with her body in heavenly glory.
One might ask why is the gospel for today the famous incident at the house of Mary and Martha concerning the good part that Mary chose that would not be taken away from her? —Because The Most holy Theotokos in her life unceasingly chose to love God and vigilantly attend to Him.
Saint Macarius the Great explained this gospel passage saying ‘If any one loves Jesus, an attends to Him in earnest, and not in a casual way, but in love abides by Him, God is already devising to make some return to that soul for its love, although the man does not know what he is to receive or what portion God is about to give the soul.
When Mary loved Him, and sat at His feet, the gift that was added to her was no casual gift; He gave her a certain hidden virtue from His own substance….and a divine power was filled into her heart…” (Homily 12 of Saint Macarius the Great).
“Mary has chosen the good part and it shall not be taken from her” (Luke 10:42).
We also make a free choice. We are made in God’s image and likeness by reason and free will. Here is the great and frightening mystery of creation: we have been given the freedom to choose to respond to God or to choose something else in our life that will exclude Him, and God will not violate that choice.
Our faith is not merely a once in a lifetime assent to certain doctrines, but rather a way of life. As Saint Paul wrote, “We are fellow laborers with God” (1Corinthians 3:9). By Baptism we are united to Christ, but more is required of us. “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:20). After that initial grace we are called upon to respond and exercise our will and draw nigh to God. We increase the gift of grace only when we work together with God and seek “the good part,” that is, when we love Him and seek to Hear His word.
It is through the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38), and the . came upon her and the power of the Most High overshadowed her (Luke 1:35) and she became the rational heavenly tabernacleand thus through the All Holy Mother of God that we participate in the good part. From her earliest age the Most Holy Theotokos was chosen for the good part and chose to embrace it, experiencing the special providence of God. She was born from the fruit of prayer, fasting and a vow to dedicate her to God, by her parents who were formerly barren of children. From her earliest age she was placed among the virgin’s dedicated to serving at the Temple. According to Holy Tradition she had angels guiding, guarding and ministering to her, even from her very earliest age and while in the Temple she was taught of God through prayer. When the fullness of time came, this hidden treasury of the mysteries of God consented with the words, “Behold the
On this feast of the repose and translation of the Most Holy God-Birthgiver when we reflect upon the life of the Ever-virgin, we contemplate one of the great mysteries of God. We cannot even begin to fathom her life of converse with and her relationship with her Son and God. At the time of our Savior’s birth, while the mysteries that were hidden from the foundation of the world were being revealed, it is written, “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).
Yet, her life was not without sorrow, as Saint Symeon predicted to her when she presented Christ our Savior at the Temple forty days after his birth, saying, “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also;) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Luke 2:34-35).
Yet, throughout all of her sorrows, she was spiritually nourished and consoled by “the good part.” In this the Most Holy Theotokos was an example for all Christians in that she directed her will entirely towards God and that “good part,” which is secret converse with Him both in times of joy and in times of sorrow.
The Most Holy Mother of God is our guide and directress on the way of salvation. She showed us the way by accepting her ministry with humility and lowliness of mind. Saint Philaret, Metropolitan of New York, made the observation that she is mentioned much in the gospel of saint Luke, but only once in the Acts of the Apostles. She sought to be in the background as an example of prayer, humility, and support. Yet, at her repose, in an extraordinary way all of the Apostles were brought to Jerusalem to be present in order to pay homage to her.
On the last day, when all things will be revealed, there will be many Christians who in this life were thought insignificant, but in the age to come will be clothed in glory to the amazement of many.
O Most Holy Theotokos, be our Directress and guide us so that each of us might direct our will entirely towards God and that good part, which is secret converse with Him! Amen.