The Prelate’s Sermon, August 15, 2021
Today the Armenian Church celebrates the Assumption of the Theotokos, the God-bearer Holy Virgin Mary, who was privileged to be the tabernacle of the Incarnated Son of God, and as the immaculate maiden of the Almighty Lord, after she slept in Christ, she was transferred to the heavenly realm.
The assumption of the Saint Mary is the fulfillment of our Lord Jesus’ promise that “I am the resurrection and life, those who believe in me, even though they die, will live” (Jn 11:25). It is true that in the Scriptures, we do not find any reference to this majestic act of Divine love, for the entire focus of the Evangelists was the Risen Lord. Nevertheless, the oral Tradition transmits to us a valuable fact that when Mary entered into Eternal Rest, Saint Bartholomew the Apostle was not in Jerusalem. Upon his return, he wished to pay his final respects to her. The other apostles acceded to his request and made the arrangements to open her tomb. And lo! found the tomb empty! Surely, they were surprised and were filled with awesome fear; yet based upon their unprecedented experience of witnessing the Empty Tomb of their Great Teacher, Jesus Christ, the apostles thanked and glorified the Almighty Lord for transferring Mary from her earthly sepulcher into the heavenly sanctuary. They thanked the Lord for this magnificent sign of carrying the earthly angel of Nazareth, the intercessor of Cana in Galilee, the praying heart at the Cross, the Holy Virgin Mary, to the celestial abode. Thus, she became the universal mother, intercessor, and prayer for all believers.
The Assumption of Saint Mary, “Sourp Asdvadzadzin”, the mother of God, as much as it is a superb reward which transcends human comprehension and imagination; it has a clear message to all generations to come. I would like to share two major thoughts derived from this magnificent feast.
- The Almighty Lord, out of His love, wisdom and power, created the universe, and chose the human beings as His co-workers. Throughout history, He called patriarchs and prophets, and in the fulfillment of time, He announced Saint Mary as the sacred vehicle for the Redemption plan. Mary, the pure and obedient lamb of the Almighty Lord, loved God with all her heart with all her soul and with all her might (Deut 6:5), and fully committed herself to God’s care by saying, “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Thus, she reminds us that every person is a co-worker of God.
This approach opens an extremely positive dimension in our understanding of our earthly existence, that each person, regardless of their rank, position, and career, is the extension of the hand of God to bring their share in building up the Kingdom of God, of which we are citizens, now on this earth and hereafter in heaven.
- The mystic miracle of the Assumption reaffirms that all those who sleep in Christ, if not immediately but in due time, will enjoy the promise of our Crucified, Buried and Risen Lord, ”when all who are in their graves will hear His voice and will come out” (Jn 5:29), and will enjoy the blessings of the ultimate goal of their earthly existence, by being with the Creator and in Him to celebrate life forever.
What a crystal-clear map unfolds for a believer who is conscious of his calling as the co-working hand made by the loving Creator for the scope of his earthly journey, and headed to a specific goal with the expectation of being welcomed with Life and Joy!
Having this assurance by the intercessor who by Divine ordinance gave birth to our Savior, let us revitalize our bond with the Holy Virgin Mary Soorp Asdvadzadzin – the God-bearer, the role model of purity and obedience, the symbol of a crashed but not crushed heart, the earthly Bride whose unconditional commitment pleased God. And as St. Gregory of Nareg has prayed, “O Holy Mother of God the tree of life giving Fruit, interwove my bitter lamentations to your pleasant and incense-like supplications”, let us wholeheartedly beseech her to intercede on our behalf with the Almighty and Compassionate Lord to increase the spirit of humility, mutual understanding, tolerance, respect of humanity, to build up justice, stability and peace on earth, and gratefully to praise the Lord of lords now and forever.