Glory to Jesus Christ.
Who is she for whom today’s Gospel passages have been chosen? She is blessed, she chooses the one necessary thing, the good portion, she sits at the feet of the Lord to listen to His Word and keep his Word. This best part is more useful to her than all else. “Be it done to me according to your Word”, and she gave birth without corruption, a mystery beyond words and nature. Her death too takes place today without corruption in a manner beyond the temporal and natural order. Speech cannot attain what surpasses it. If"the death of the righteous is precious in the eyes of the Lord" (cf. Ps. 115:6), if the "memory of the just one is blessed" (Prov. 10:7), so much more is the memory of the holiest among saints. While she was "a little lower than angels"(Ps. 8:6) wondrous deeds were written down and accomplished with respect to her. And above all other deeds, was her co- operation and suffering united to the condescension (kenosis) of the Word of God.
In some ancient icons of the Holy Dormition, we read a frown, an expression of pain, of defiguration on the face of the Mother of God as her body lies majestically on the bier of her death bed. Her Son is celebrated in the hymn to the Philippians which we just heard, but she likewise is celebrated through this hymn to the Philippians because she lived a unique union with the condescension (kenosis) of the Word of God: that is why we read the frown. But as the hymn goes, because of her voluntary kenosis, she too is glorified and exalted above all, as her Son and with Him. Her death, as her birth-giving and her exaltation of Mother of God are mysteriously life-bearing. As we see in the icon. At her Dormition she gives up her soul into the hands of her glorified Son, while her body begins mysteriously its translation into the celestial immortal life to be reunited with her soul. As Solomon says, "many daughters have attained wealth, many show great courage; but she exceeds and surpasses all" (cf. Prov.1:29).
She stands between God and the whole human race. Through her, God becomes Son of Man and makes men sons of God: she makes earth heavenly, and she deifies the human race. She alone is both mother by nature and Mother of God transcending every law of nature, Queen, both of earthly and heavenly creation. She "stands at the right of the King of all clothed in a vesture wrought with gold and arrayed with diverse colors" (cf. Ps. 44:9). By "vesture wrought with gold" understand her divinely radiant body. She alone enjoys the celestial realm together with her Son. For, earth and grave and death cannot hold her life- originating and God-receiving body, she is a dwelling more favored than Heaven and the Heaven of heavens. Indeed, how could it be that the body which manifested Our Divine Savior by way of birth, should not also be taken up into Heaven? The body which gave birth is glorified together with what was born of it. Her Son and the "ark of his strength" (Ps.131:8) are resurrected to the place of their rest. Christ, arising from the dead on the third day magnifies now her pre-eminence.
Isaiah writes with regard to the supreme commanders of the heavenly hosts: "The seraphim stood round about Him" (Isaiah 6:2); but David says concerning her, "at Your right hand stands the queen" (Ps. 44:8). Do you see the difference of position? The seraphim are round about God, but the Queen of all is beside Him, she is where Christ sits in the heavens at the "right hand of majesty" (Heb. 1:3). There she takes her stand, now ascended from earth into the heavens. She is truly His Throne: wherever the King sits, there His Throne is set also. Isaiah called his throne "high" and "exalted" (Isaiah 6:1). The angels themselves, glorifying God, come to her, saying, "Blessed be the glory of the Lord from His Place" (Ezek. 3:12). Jacob the patriarch, beholds mysteriously this throne saying, "How awesome is this Place! It is none other than the House of God, and the Gate of Heaven" (Gen. 28:17). And David adds in the psalms: "I shall commemorate your name in every generation and generation. Therefore peoples shall give you praise forever, and unto the ages of ages" not only in times past, but "forever, and unto the ages of ages"? In Isaiah6, the seraphim take the burning coal from the altar with tongs, by means of which the coal touches the lips of the prophet and purifies them (cf. Isaiah6:6-7). Likewise, in Exodus 3, Moses beholds the bush aflame with fire, yet unconsumed. Who does not know that the Virgin Mother of God is that very bush and those very tongs holding fire, she who conceived the Divine Fire without being consumed, she who conceived Him who takes away the sins of the world, Him Who through her touches mankind and by that ineffable touch and union cleanses us entirely.
This illustrates the great mystery we celebrate today, she is the frontier between created and uncreated nature, both in her birth-giving and in her dormition. No one passes that frontier without being enlightened by her. "God is in the midst of her"(Ps.45:5). Indeed, anyone who loves the Son is loved by Him and by His Father and becomes the dwelling-place of Both. And who loves the Son more than His Mother? And whom will the Son love more than His Mother? He came forth from Her ineffably without a father in this last age, as He came forth from the Father without mother before the ages? How could He that descended to fulfill the Law not give the honor due to His Mother over and above all ordinances of the Law? In the endless age to come, without her mediation from heaven, no illuminating divine light will emanate. She alone has received the all-pervading fullness of Him who fills all things. It is an everlasting order of ranking in the heavens that the inferior partakes of what lies beyond its being thanks to the mediation of the superior. The Virgin Mother is incomparably superior to all, she is the cause of what came before her, she is the
champion of what comes after her, the agent of things that are eternal.
Glory to Jesus Christ.