The Dormition of the Mother of God
Greetings dear brothers and sisters in Christ with the great feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God!
In the icon of the Dormition we see the most pure Mother of God surrounded by the Apostles. One of her last wishes and prayers was that she could once again see the dearly loved Apostles of her Son Jesus Christ. The Lord fulfilled her wish in a miraculous way… the Apostles, who were scattered abroad on their missionary journeys, were miraculously transported back to Jerusalem to be at the bedside of their beloved spiritual Mother. What joy and what Christian love must have been expressed among this amazing assembly of people! The Holy Virgin then peacefully gave up her soul into the arms of her Son. We see this represented in the icon as our Lord Jesus Christ appears above the assembly of Apostles and cradles within His arms what appears to be an infant all dressed in white. This newly born infant is the pure soul of the Most Holy Virgin being tenderly embraced by her Son as she enters into His heavenly kingdom.
What an image this is! What hope it brings forth within the human heart! For, though the body of the Most Pure Virgin is, for a moment, given over to death, her pure soul is cradled in arms of her Son and our Savior.
This vision should inform us and inspire us… that, though we may be subject to the tragedies of this fallen world, our souls might find rest within the bosom of our Lord. The Holy Apostle Paul expresses this hope most perfectly when he writes: ‘For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’
Let that beautiful image of the pure white soul of the Virgin, lovingly cradled within the arms of our Savior, be a source of consolation and inspiration. No matter what storms may rage all around us, there is a place of quiet and rest for our souls within the embrace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Beneath that wondrous vision, we see the Apostles crowded around the reposed body of the Holy Virgin. The Apostle Thomas was the only one of Christ’s immediate disciples who was not brought back to Jerusalem at the time of the Mother of God’s falling asleep. But this turned out to be according to God’s great providence and mercy as well. Thomas arrived on the third day and wished to venerate the body of the Most Holy Theotokos. When the Apostles opened the tomb, they discovered that the body of the Virgin Mary was no longer there! Her most pure body had been assumed up into heaven. That evening she appeared to the Apostles, surrounded by a host of angels, saying: ‘Rejoice, I will be with you always.’
Thus the Most Holy Mother of God sits at the right hand of her Son… she has been called forth from the grave ahead of all of humanity to enter into the fullness of that to which we are all called… to be in Paradise with our Heavenly Father.
Our holy father John of Shanghai and San Francisco wrote the following: ‘Being adorned with Divine glory she stands and will stand, both in the day of the Last Judgment and in the future age, at the right hand of the throne of her Son. She reigns with Him and has boldness towards Him as His Mother according to the flesh, and as one in spirit with Him, as one who performed the will of God and instructed others. Merciful and full of love, she manifests her love towards her Son and God in love for the human race. She intercedes for it before the Merciful One, and going about the earth, she helps mankind. Having experienced all the difficulties of earthly life, the Intercessor of the Christian race sees every tear, hears every groan and entreaty directed to her. Especially near to her are those who labor in the battle with the passions and are zealous for a God-pleasing life. But even in worldly cares she is an irreplaceable helper. In her sticheron we sing… ‘Joy of all who sorrow and intercessor for the offended, feeder of the hungry, consolation of travelers, harbor of the storm-tossed, visitation of the sick, protection and intercessor for the infirm, staff of old age, Mother of God on high, Thou art the Immaculate, hasten we pray and save Thy slaves.’’
What an example, what a champion, what an intercessor we have in our Mother, the Most Pure Virgin Mary. Her life on earth and her life in heaven stand as beacons – inspiring and guiding us toward the call of her Son and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Let us go forward today into the events of our own lives with a resolution to become a source of joy for the sorrowful, an intercessor for those that are offended, a feeder of the hungry, a consolation to travelers, let each of us strive to be a harbor for all those that are storm-tossed, let us visit and pray for the sick and suffering. In a word, let us go forth, inspired by the image of the purity and the humility of the Mother of God to be beacons of the love of Jesus Christ. Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have received so much love, let us generously pass it on!