November 21, 2021

Homily One on the Entry into the Temple of the Most Holy Theotokos (Archpriest Rodion Putyatin)

 By Archpriest Rodion Putyatin

The Church is now celebrating the Entry into the Temple of the Most Holy Theotokos. What does this entry mean? The parents of the Most Holy Theotokos, the Ancestors of God Joachim and Anna, being childless for a long time, prayed to God to give them a child and, if it was God's will, promised to dedicate the child to God to live and serve in the temple.

The fervent prayer of the righteous is not done in vain: God gave Joachim and Anna a daughter, whom they named Mary. She lived at their house for three years; on the fourth, according to the given vow, she was brought by them to the temple. Then the singing priests and Levites met her, and the high priest solemnly blessed her. Thus, she remained to live there until a certain time at the Jerusalem temple. This entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the temple is now celebrated by the Holy Church.

So, the Most Holy Theotokos from the age of three began to live in the temple, from the age of three she began to serve God. Could there really be any benefit from such an early occupation? Is it possible that a three-year-old baby can understand and adopt something? Not only three-year-olds, even two-year-olds and one-year-olds can understand and learn a lot.

You, of course, noticed how babies are curious about everything, and this is a sign that they want to know, which means they can understand; as far as their memory, everything is imprinted on it, as on soft wax. And in fact, when do children learn to speak, when do they manage to remember such different names of things? Of course, in infancy. When do they manage to find out the vices that they discover when they come to age? Again in infancy. So, listeners, almost everything children learn about life they see and hear in infancy. And because  you want to teach children over time, you need to inspire them even when they are babies. Let them learn in advance to see and hear it; at least let their ears and eyes get used to what their minds and hearts are supposed to do over time.

And that is why the parents of the Most Holy Theotokos wisely let her go so early to live in the temple. There everything worldly was hidden from her; she saw and heard the divine; she lived and breathed the divine. On the contrary, those parents who do and say bad things in the presence of babies, or allow others to speak and do obscene things, act very carelessly. It is still too early to teach them kindness, we usually say. Early? Is it time to accustom them to the worst? We will teach the children about godliness as they begin to understand. Will this teaching be of much use? We will then restrain them with words from what we have long taught by deeds. We will not only teach them, but wean them from what they have long been accustomed to, taking an example from others.

So, listeners, let us behave as carefully as possible in the presence of babies, and we all have the opportunity to often be with them. We will behave carefully with babies, whoever they are, ours or strangers; for ours and others, we will equally give an answer to God. Let us suppose that they do not understand anything, but their eyes are open, their ears are open, and therefore we will refrain from evil so that they do not see and hear them; let us not accustom their ears and their eyes to the worst. And it will be better for us in the next world if they are saved; and it will be more gratifying for us if after death they do not go to hell, to this place of eternal torment. Amen.