Glory to God!—The Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God, Amen.

In all that we do we look to the example of Christ.  He is the Saviour, the Redeemer, the Mediator between God and humanity.  It is through Christ, and only through Christ, we are saved.

And yet, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, he is the God-man, Theanthropos, perfect God and perfect human: one person who reconciles us to God; if, on the other hand, we look for one who is merely human we can see no one greater than the Mother of God, the Theotokos, whose Entry into the Temple we celebrate today.  And we hear today’s Gospel reading, and we pause and wonder, how is she the All-holy one when Scripture recounts a strange exchange.  A woman in the crowd raised up her voice to Christ and said, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!”  In other words, “Blessed is your mother.”  To this the Lord replies, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

We are being led, dear brothers and sisters, to recount the history of Salvation.  When all the nations of the world gave up worship of the Most-High God and turned to petty idols, instead of destroying humanity God found someone who would remain faithful to him and from whom a new nation, God’s holy nation, could be born: Abraham of Ur.  And from Abraham came Isaac, and from Isaac Jacob, who became Israel, and from Israel the Twelve Patriarchs.  “These were all commended for their faith,” says the Apostle Paul, “yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” (Hebrews 11:39–40)  For out of Israel came one towards whom the whole Old Testament had been working, one who could say to the Archangel, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word,” (Luke 1:38) the blessed Virgin.

The Theotokos is blessed, according to the words of the Lord, not because she is his mother but because she hears the words of the Lord and keeps them.  This example dear brothers and sisters, should be our example.  We should hear the words of the Lord and keep them, pondering them in our hearts (see Luke 2:19, 2:51; cf. Genesis 37:11, Psalm 118:11 lxx) as did the Panagia.  Her life is a life of humility, constantly pointing us towards the Lord and praying to him on our behalf.  May her humility be our humility, her prayer our prayer, that the glorious and eternal life she has received from God we, too, may receive from him.  And in all things—in our successes and failures, in our gains and our loses, in our life and our dying—give all glory and honour to our God who has redeemed us his people.

Glory to God!  Glory to God!  Glory to God!

To our risen Saviour and Redeemer, Jesus Christ our True God, be all glory honour and dominion, together with his unoriginate Father, and the All-holy, Good and Life-giving Spirit.  Amen.

Brethren, the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly sanctuary. For a tent was prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence; it is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain stood a tent called the Holy of Holies, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, which contained a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. These preparations having thus been made, the priests go continually into the outer tent, performing their ritual duties; but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood which he offers for himself and for the errors of the people.
— Hebrews 9:1–7

At that time, Jesus entered a village; and a woman called Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve you alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.” As he said this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
— Luke 10:38–42, 11:27–28