St. Silouan the Athonite Mission Parish

Sermons

Sunday before the Feast of the Dormition 2011
by Fr Roberto Ubertino

You are the temple of God and the Holy Spirit dwells in you. These words of St Paul are addressed to all those who have been baptized and in particular they can be true of all those who today received Holy Communion. In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, “If anyone loves me he will keep my word and my Father will love Him and we will come to him and make our home in him.”

 

St Gregory Palamas preaching on the Dormition of the Theotokos says, “But who could love the Son more than his mother, who did not just bear him as her only child… but comes ineffably from her in the last times.” “No one longs for Christ as she does and no one is longed for  “ G.P. The Theotokos was the first to become a human temple, the abode of God. “She was the first to receive the all pervading fullness of him who fills all things and she brought Christ within the reach of all.” She is the “above of God,” Psalm 46:5; “For God is in the midst of her” while being nothing more or less than a simple human being. Her greatness is the fruit of God’s grace and her cooperation, she engaged her free will to “cooperate with and share in the suffering and self-emptying kenosis of the Word of God (Phil 2:7). The self-emptying of Christ was accomplished through her and led to his exaltation, so she was justly glorified and exalted with him” (Palamas).

 

Unlike Peter who in today’s gospel hesitates and doubts in the middle of the storm, Mary the God-bearer’s response to God’s invitation is total, her surrender is unconditional, complete. This desire to share in the sufferings and self-emptying love of her Son fills her being with the infinite compassion of her Son and perfects her natural tenderness extending it to all, angels and men. Her death, Gregory Palamas says, “was life-giving” because it was the culmination of a whole given to her Son a whole life lived in surrender to the Divine logic of self-emptying love. Unlike our death, because of our many sins and fears and attachments, her death was not a product of necessity. Rather, her death was a choice to love and surrender, a free chosen desire to go in herself ever so intimately to her son’s paschal mystery. All this does not maker her out of our reach, but just the opposite.

 

She shows us in the most human and intimate way the full potential there is in us to become like God. Our struggles are like those of Peter, it’s hard to let go, to trust that the way of the Gospel is not just plain foolishness. But she who held him who fills all things now holds each person with such tenderness and humility and love that makes it easier for our hearts to trust God in his ways.

 

O Mother of the Word, in the silence of this dormition fast, hold each of us as you held the One who sustains all and fills all with his love.

 

O Mother of the Word, help us to become temples of the Holy Spirit help us to love the Son so that the Father and Son may come and make their home in us.

 

Teach us how to surrender ourselves, how to trust each day each moment the voice of your Son over the storms of life. Help us not to be afraid to walk on the waters of an incomprehensible sea of infinite goodness.

 

Be, for us, this icon painted by the Father for angels and men of how beautiful He is. Help us to prepare each day for our own death, lived as much as possible not because of necessity but out of love for the Son you bore. To Him be glory…

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