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Homily for the Service of the Paraklesis to the Theotokos

His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America

Homily for the Service of the Paraklesis to the Theotokos

Kimisis Tis Theotokou Greek Orthodox Church

Island Park, New York

August 9, 2021

 

Beloved in the Lord,

I rejoice in praying with you, and supplicating the Virgin Mother of God together with you, in this beautiful Temple dedicated to Her Dormition – her sacred Falling Asleep. This Feast is so important in understanding the meaning of our lives. For the Mother of God was the first to be raised to everlasting life, and to taste the fruits of her Son’s Glorious Resurrection. And in doing so, she demonstrated to every generation of Christians the evidence of the promise of God.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, it is meet and right that we honor her Holy Dormition with these days of fasting and prayer. And especially our services of the Paraklesis.

We chant the Supplicatory Canons to her, beseeching her intercessions and mercies, because she is a lively advocate on our behalf. Often times, some of our ecumenical neighbors in the Christian communities across our land find it difficult to accept our devotion to the Virgin. Not so much our Roman Catholic brethren, but sometimes our Protestant friends, who can be surprised by our intense reverence for the Theotokos.

Here is what I would say:

The mystery of God’s Mother is not revealed in its totality only on Christmas Day, just as our salvation is not accomplished solely by the Incarnation of the Word of God. There is a process to our salvation – the sinless life lived by our Lord Jesus Christ, which culminates in His Passion, Death, Burial, Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven.

And there was also a process for the Mother of God, who grew in her own understanding of the meaning of her Son. The last that we hear of the Virgin in the history of the New Testament is in the Book of Acts. On the Mount of Olives, she witnessed the Ascension of her Resurrected Son into Heaven, which was a foreshadowing of her own resurrection and assumption into the celestial mansions. Afterward, she returned to Jerusalem with the Disciples, and there, as the Scripture says:

With one accord they devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary, the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. [*]

This last mention of the Virgin Mary is important, for it shows that she had witnessed the complete salvation of the earthly life of her Son: from His Nativity to His Ascension. And she is with the company of the Apostles and other Disciples of the Lord who followed their Teacher from Galilee. With them, she is prepared to experience the miracle of Pentecost, and thus, she receives the Holy Spirit in a second filling, after her Annunciation.

All of these things happened to the Theotokos, not only to prepare her to face her own eventual death, but also so that she would be ready to receive – first among all humanity – the Resurrection of the Flesh, and entry into Life Eternal with God.

She is now completely enfolded in the life of God. She has fulfilled the promise of the Resurrection. And that is why there is no relic of the Virgin’s physical form. For it is all living in eternity in order to show us that one day we will do the same. The only portion that remains is her sacred Ζώνη, plaited from her own hair, and enshrined today on the Holy Mountain of Athos.

Therefore, she lives in Heaven as a guarantee – a promissory commitment – that we will live there, too, because we share the same human nature with her, that she shares with her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. And so, let us always run to her with eagerness and urgency, and ask her to supplicate her Son and God, for she is a mediator for the world. As we chanted tonight:

Δέσποινα καὶ μήτηρ τοῦ Λυτρωτοῦ, δέξαι παρακλήσεις, ἀναξίων σῶν ἱκετῶν, ἵνα μεσιτεύσῃς πρὸς τὸν ἐκ σοῦ τεχθέντα. Ὦ Δέσποινα, τοῦ κόσμου γενοῦ μεσίτρια. Ἀμην.

 

[*] Acts 1:14.


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