15 August 2005

Patristic Quote for the Day

Today is the Dormition of the Mother of God. From a homily by St. John of Damascus:

How could one taste death from whom the true Life flowed out to all? Yet she did fall under the law inflicted by Him whom she bore, and as a daughter of the old Adam she suffered the sentence of death, even as her Son who is Life itself. But now as Mother of the living God, she is fittingly taken up to heaven by Him. For how could death feed on this truly blessed one who had eagerly listened to the word of God? who at the Archangel's salutation, filled with the Holy Spirit, conceived the Son of God? who without pain gave birth to Him? whose whole being was ever consecrated to her Creator? Could hell receive such a one? Could corruption destroy a body in which Life had been brought forth? For her, beloved brethren, a way is prepared to heaven - a way that is straight and fair and easy. For if Christ, the way and truth, has said: Where I am there My servant shall be, does it not follow that His Mother is surely with Him?


Anonymous said...

As someone looking for a church home, I've been benefiting from the kind hospitality of both Orthodox and LCMS parishes as they have shared their worship of God with me. It is engaging to see something on this blog that brings to mind both traditions. As I attended the liturgy commememorating the Dormition this morning, I wondered how my Lutheran friends would regard this celebration of Mary's example to us. Thanks, pastor for showing that the gap is not as wide as it appeared -- at least in some ways. God bless.

William Weedon said...

We celebrated Dormition this morning as St. Paul's, as is our practice for all the saints' days in the Lutheran calendar. Matins was prayed at 6:30 with the Holy Eucharist following at 7:00. I debated reading from this homily, but ended up preaching a homily of my own in which I strove to draw three sets of parallels:

David wanting to build God a house, but God building one for him instead.
Mary makeing a home for God in her womb and then in her life; and how He who came from her womb then this day welcomed her to the home he prepared for her by His cross and resurrection.
The believer being in the place of Mary: in the Eucharist He comes to take residence in us, who will one day welcome us to His eternal home.

Anonymous said...

Would you possibly please post that homily?

William Weedon said...

Sorry! I didn't write it out. But I will offer my favorite sermon on Mary that I have written - it's incarnation, though, not dormition:

Homily for Midweek Advent II

“And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The Virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel...”

I stand amazed before the Maiden, and she looks in amazement at me. But my amazement is greater than hers. She is amazed at my appearing to her but I am amazed at the tidings I bring her. For she shall be a mother, though she knows not a man. She shall conceive in her womb and bring forth a son, though a virgin she shall be and remain. But it is who her son will be that fills me with greatest awe. For this Child that shall be born of her shall truly be hers. A human being exactly as she is a human being. A creature of flesh and blood. A creature that grows from childhood to adulthood. A creature that eats and sleeps and breathes and all that attends being human. Such a creature will her son be.

And that is why I stare at her in awe. For the little child that shall soon be conceived in her womb and that she shall feed at her breast is none other than the Son of the Highest, God the Son, the Eternal Word of the Father through whom I was made, through whom she was made, through whom all things are made. She shall be mother of the Maker. She shall be mother of the Eternal One who was before the stars began their shining or the planets began their great dance. She shall be mother of Him whom it is our delight to serve and worship and praise world without end.

The Child she bears shall reign over David’s house forever. The promise of the Kingdom that has no end is fulfilled in Him. A forever Kingdom! O Lady, do you know what that means? He will reign through endless days and those over whom He reigns will live in endless life. Lady, do you know that you will carry in your womb Him through whom death itself will be destroyed? Lady, do you know that through the deeds of your Son the sin that separates the human race from the all-holy Father will be covered, atoned, pardoned? Lady, do you know how He will do it? No. I can see that you do not know. That is best for now. The day will come when you stand on a darkened hill and see a sight of love so grievous that it will tear your soul in two. But it will be His love for you and for your fallen race that drives Him to it, Lady. So rejoice!

And do not worry yourself over how this promise I bring you will be fulfilled. God knows that you are a virgin. But His Holy Spirit will overshadow you and fill you and change you and inside of you Life Himself will begin to grow and so the Holy One born of you will indeed be my Master, my Lord, my God. It is impossible for any word of God to fail. His promises are more certain than heaven and earth. He said it and so, Lady, rejoice and be glad. It shall be so.

Meekly do I see you bow your head. Meekly do I hear you utter the words: “Behold, the maidservant of the Lord.” Meekly do I hear you say: “Let it be to me as you have said.” And so the moment has come and the great time of God’s keeping all his promises has begun. Begun in you, Lady. Begun in your womb, which He shall make His holy temple and His home for the next nine months during which His tiny infant heart will beat beneath your own, till that moment when the Lord blesses you and keeps you and makes His face shine upon you and gives you peace; that moment when your baby looks at you and nestles at your breast and closes his eyes in the peace and the warmth of your embrace. As you will hold him, so even now, does He hold you and all welcome Him.

Farewell, then, Lady until we meet once more, until together we bow before the Child you will bear and worship at His feet and give Him eternal praise in the Kingdom He comes to prepare, in the presence of all who have trusted in Your Son for forgiveness and salvation, in the life that has no end, where the joys are eternal and where the sorrows are forgotten. Farewell, Vessel of His grace! Farewell, Temple of the Presence! Farewell, Mary, child of David, child of Abraham, Mother of God! Farewell.

“And the angel departed from her.”