By Saint Tarasios, Patriarch of Constantinople
With cheerfulness and astonishment do the lovers of feasts raise up hymns with longing at the present festival of the Entrance of the Ever-Virgin and Theotokos into the Temple. Today heaven and earth have a common feast, together glorifying the Creator, who elected as His habitation the mortal nature of the Maiden child of God.
Today the mystery which was determined before the ages, and in the last days appeared, prepares a dwelling place. Today the announced offspring of Joachim and Anna, is offered by them as an honorable gift, this offspring which they bore by God's good pleasure.
Today the prelude of joy enters the Temple as a three year old, and virgins go before her with lamps. Today is brought into the Holy of Holies, the deliverance from the curse of barrenness.
Today the proclamation of the Prophets, by the priests and the Prophet Zechariah goes up to the sanctuary.
And though he enters it with reverence once a year, she cheerfully with permission sits there night and day. Who cannot be amazed at such an astonishing thing? Who cannot be amazed at this astonishing miracle, seeing in the Temple the priests attending the favored and unapproachable Mary the blameless?
This is a prelude to our union, this is the mixing of angels with the pattern of humanity, this is the seal of our renewal, this is the alteration of our lives from being bearers of thorns which was decided for our forefathers: "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life," and "It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food...."1 Surely was redeemed the "I will multiply your sorrows and tears" and "in sorrows will you bear children."2
This all-honorable feast we the faithful celebrate, this bright festival, this divinely shining sparkle, this noetic lamp-bearing illumination, this mysteriously bright giver of light, this mysterious knowledge of God to the world like lightning, of the triune persons of the one Godhead, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, teaches that He is Almighty.
She is the Holy of Holies,
the Spotless Container of the Word,
the Virgin Plucked Flower,
the Ark of Sanctification,
the Holy Mountain,
the God-encompassing Tent,
the Unconsumed Bush,
the Fiery Chariot of God,
the Uncontaminated Dove,
the Spacious Space of the Word,
the Divinely-Illumined Cloud,
the Elegantly Adorned Queen,
who descended from the seed of David,
the David whose Creator and God guarded his dwelling place.
In the histories of the twelve tribes of Israel, Joachim was a rich and just man, and he offered his gifts to God. Not having a seed, but being childless, the priests would not take them, saying: "You cannot offer your gifts because you have not conceived a child in Israel."
Therefore he left the Temple of the Lord with a sad countenance, having unbearable sorrow. Then he ascended the mountain by himself, to be alone with God, and he prayed with humility and a contrite heart.
1. Gen. 3:17-19.
2. Gen. 3:16.
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.