August 15, 2022

Homily One on the Dormition of the Theotokos (Archimandrite George Kapsanis)

 By Archimandrite George Kapsanis

With the Feasts of our Panagia, the Feasts of the Mother of God, among them the greatest is the Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos, a small Easter, an Easter in the summer, giving us the opportunity to express our deep gratitude to the Mother of our Redeemer and our Mother for what she has done for the human race and for each one of us. Because, without her own synergy and offering to the Holy Triune God, the Word of God would not be incarnated. God was waiting for such a holy soul to be found, all-immaculate and all-pure, who would offer all their freedom to God, so that God would also offer Himself entirely to them.

And this was the blessed Mary, the humble maiden of Nazareth. We thank her. She gave us the most precious thing we have in our lives. Our Savior. What would we be without Christ the Savior? Despairing prisoners of death. The eternal prisoners of the devil. No hope. The fact we have a Savior and a Redeemer and a God, the Lord Jesus Christ our God incarnate, we owe it to the Mother of God.

That is why the praise of the Church is eternal. The hymns of the Church are eternal and inexhaustible towards the person of the Lady Theotokos. No person on earth has been honored with so many hymns, with so many praises, with so many decorative expressions as our Panagia.

Already from the Third Ecumenical Synod, the Church gave her the title Theotokos, which term "Theotokos" according to the holy Father Gregory the Theologian, encompasses the whole mystery of salvation and piety. This is because the heretics denied that the Lady Theotokos gave birth to God incarnate. However, the Church persevered in its belief that the Lady Theotokos gave birth to God incarnate, the Word of God. She became the workshop of the secret union of the two natures, the divine and the human. Because, within her holy womb from the moment of the conception of her Only Begotten Son, humanity was united with the Divine nature and the God-man Christ was conceived. That is why it is characterized as a workshop of the secret union of the two natures. And we must not forget all these, the Church never forgets them; therefore, when the Church glorifies her Only Begotten Son, she also glorifies the person of our Panagia. There is no Church Service, Church gathering, where the Lady Theotokos is not invited to be present and perhaps to preside over the Assembly of the People of God. She is the head of the Holy Apostles according to Saint Gregory the Palamas. Because, when the Lord was taken up into the heavens, the Lady Theotokos enlivened, encouraged, taught, guided the holy Apostles. In this way, she was their Eldress and continues to be the Eldress, the spiritual mother of all Christians, those who believe in an Orthodox manner in the Triune God. She especially is the Eldress and the Mother of Monks and of the Saints.

What made our Panagia and showed us who she was is not simply that she without suffering gave birth to God, the God-man Christ, but that she cooperated in the Birth of Christ and in the gestation of Christ and she cooperated because, as today's Apostolic Reading says, the Epistle to the Philippians she also participated in the phronema of Christ. This is the phronema of Christ: extreme humility, self-emptying, sacrifice, being an offering to the human race. And this was also the phronema of our Panagia. It was not possible for the one who carried God in her womb not to have the same phronema with Him, whom she conceived. This phronema that the Incarnate Lord had and because of which He became incarnate and humbled himself and emptied himself, this phronema was also had by the humble maiden of Nazareth. She emptied herself, she offered herself, as a perfect offering, she didn't keep anything for herself. And this phronema is what the Lord Jesus and the Lady Theotokos ask of us Christians, the children of our Panagia.

We wrap her incorruptible body noetically, and we embrace it in an appropriate manner, and we, like the holy Apostles, participate in her all-revered funeral, which, however, was nothing more than the means towards her ascension to heaven. Because the Lady Theotokos, by the grace and philanthropy of her Only Begotten Son, departed herself physically to heaven and ascended to heaven, because that All-Holy Body, in which she bore God, could not be eaten by worms in the earth. She had to rise and sit at the right hand of the Lord and be an intercessor for all mankind. And at other times we have said it, I say it also for those who have not heard it, our fellow worshipers, our Panagia is the first person of the New Testament who rose, was judged, justified, glorified and sits at the right hand of Christ, intercededing over all of the world.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.