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Homily for 8/30/09 - P12 - Summer Pascha

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  • Fr David Moser
    1 Cor 15:1-11 Just two days ago we celebrated the feast of the dormition or death of the Mother of God. The services for that feast echo the services of
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 31, 2009
      1 Cor 15:1-11

      Just two days ago we celebrated the feast of the dormition or death of
      the Mother of God. The services for that feast echo the services of
      Pascha; the theme of the Resurrection being dominant and the settings
      for those hymns using the same form and special melodies as the Paschal
      hymns. This is with good reason, for at this feast we remember not only
      the death of the Mother of God but also that she was raised bodily and
      taken to heaven by her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us quickly review
      the events of this feast so that we can see how all this came to be.
      After giving birth to the God/man Jesus Christ, the Ever-virgin Mary
      continued her life of dedication to God. Although she lived in the
      household of Joseph and raised a son that all the outsiders thought was
      his, she remained chaste and pure and continued as the vessel of God’s
      grace. After the death of Joseph and the coming of age of her Son, she
      remained with Jesus and continued as His mother and helper. This we can
      see from the account of the marriage at Cana, where she accompanied Him
      to the wedding feast and at her prompting He performed the miracle there
      of changing the water into wine. During the years of his public
      ministry, we do not see much of her, for it was her desire that in the
      recording of the Gospel, that Jesus Christ be first and foremost and
      that she was only to be seen in relation to Him, never as an independent
      entity. She does not really reappear until His death and Resurrection
      and even then in a minor role. Just before His own death on the cross,
      our Lord commended the care of His mother to the Holy Apostle John, who
      took her into his own household as though she were his own mother. It
      was the Apostle John who cared for her from that time foreward. From the
      tradition of the Church, we know also that it was the Virgin Mary who
      was foremost among the myrrhbearing women and who was the first to see
      the risen Christ. Again, at her own direction, this is not recorded as
      part of the Gospel account lest she herself become too important in the
      eyes of the followers of Christ. She lived out the remainder of her
      years with the same life of prayer and dedication to the service of God
      in the household of John as she had had in the temple and was very close
      to all the Apostles, encouraging and supporting them as they traveled
      the world proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

      When the time came for her own death, it was revealed to her by an angel
      that she would soon leave behind this earthly life. She prayed to God
      asking for one last consolation before her death – that she would be
      able to see all of the Apostles again in the flesh. This request was
      granted by God in a miraculous manner for the Apostles were gathered
      together from all the ends on the earth and transported through the air,
      carried by the clouds, to the bedside of the Virgin Mary. Having
      greeting the Apostles one last time, she gave up her soul into the hands
      of her Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who, Himself, took her into
      paradise. This we see in the icon of the Dormition. There is the body of
      the Virgin being carried in the funeral procession and above it is
      Christ holding in his arms as though wrapped for burial the soul of His
      mother. One of the Apostles, however, was missing, having been detained
      in the work of the Gospel and arrived late to the deathbed of the
      Virgin. This was the Apostle Thomas, and he implored the others to open
      the tomb again, so that he might see with his own eyes, one last time,
      the body of the Virgin Mary. When the tomb was opened, however, it was
      found to be empty and it was revealed to the Apostles that after her
      burial, our Lord came to the body of the Virgin and raised her from the
      dead, as a surety of the promise that we will all be raised from the
      dead. Now she dwells in heaven not only in soul but bodily as well. This
      is the fulfillment of the promise of Christ that those who love Him and
      follow Him will be raised up on the last day and will ascend with Him
      into Heaven where we will live with Him in eternity.

      In today’s epistle, we heard again about the central truth of the
      Resurrection for the Apostle Paul summarizes the preaching of the Gospel
      saying that, “Christ died for our sins according to the Scripture, He
      was buried and He rose again on the third day according to the
      Scripture…” Today, that same echo of the Resurrection that we noted in
      the hymns of the feast of the Dormition, we now hear again in the
      epistle read today. The Resurrection is indeed central for it is the
      pinnacle of the work of Christ as He accomplished our salvation once and
      for all. Our salvation rests in the fact that we must die with Him and
      be buried with Him and finally rise with Him, being reborn into the new
      life that He gives to us. The very first example of the effect of this
      salvation is the Virgin Mary. She gave her life to God even as a child,
      not living for herself, but rather completely for her Son, the promised
      Messiah, the God/man, who came into the world for us men and for our
      salvation. Having given her life for Him, that is having died to the
      world and to herself that she might be instrument of God’s work, she
      then also died physically and was buried in the tomb, just as in life
      she had buried herself in Christ. And having given her whole life over
      to Christ, having died and been buried, she then experienced the
      Resurrection as the first of those who were saved by Christ.

      The Virgin Mary is the embodiment of our salvation. In herself, she
      embodied the fulfillment of all the prophecies of our salvation of the
      Old Testament and from her was brought forth the One who was that
      fulfillment, the God/man Jesus Christ. In herself, she also embodied all
      promises of the New Testament for our salvation and became the first
      born from the dead after Jesus Christ Himself. He is our salvation and
      she is the first one to experience that salvation. Jesus Christ made it
      possible for us to be raised from the dead and to enter into the new
      life given by God and the Virgin Mary was the first to walk that newly
      opened path and she now stands at the head of the long line of those who
      follow Christ.

      Just as she was raised from the dead and given the new life in Christ
      and was taken to live with Him in heaven, so also we who follow Christ
      now can be confident that we will follow her, just as she followed
      Christ and that just as the promise of rebirth by resurrection was
      fulfilled in her, so also it will be fulfilled in us if we follow the
      same path – the path created by and revealed to us and opened to us by
      our Lord Jesus Christ. This, the last feast of the Church year, is a
      feast not of sadness but of great joy, for on this day we see that not
      only is Christ risen from the dead, but that He is faithful and true to
      raise us, His followers and brethren, from the dead to be with Him as well.

      Archpriest David Moser
      St Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church (ROCOR)
      Homilies: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/propoved/
      Website: http://stseraphimboise.org
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