The Prelate’s Sermon August 22, 2021
The Armenian Church, highly revering the Holy Virgin Mary Theotokos, the God-bearer, for nine days, celebrates the feast of her Assumption, a tangible reward for the earthly bride who totally submitted herself to God, and by word and deed actualized the petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy will be done on earth.” In today’s Gospel reading from Saint Luke 1:39-56, we become witnesses to a spectacular conversation between two, saintly, expectant mothers, Saint Elizabeth, the mother of Saint John and Saint Mary, the mother of the Lord of lords. As soon as Mary enters the house and greets Elizabeth, Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and welcomes her by saying, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb… blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord said to her will be accomplished.” The Evangelist also adds the precious detail that upon this greeting immediately, the baby John leapt in his mother Elizabeth’s womb. Saint Mary graciously responding to this greeting, says: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has looked with favor on the lowliness of His servant.”
I would like to concentrate on Saint Mary’s “Magnificat”, which I believe is exemplary for all of us.
- The verb “to magnify” by its very definition means to amplify, to intensify, to enlarge, and to make great, something which is small or of unsignificant size or value. Within this context, it denotes the gratefulness of a person who humbly acknowledges the outpouring of God’s Grace. Mary, after being assured that the salutation by the Angel Gabriel was commissioned from God, and by providential care having reinstated from Elizabeth the Divine ordinance, offered her praise, and proceeded to conduct her life as the magnifying praise for God’s mercy. When we analyze our entire existence, from conception to its ultimate destiny, the most precious thing which we can render, regardless of age, gender, or color, is to praise, glorify and magnify the Compassionate Creator, Lord and Father.
By magnifying the Lord, we do not augment anything to God’s glory, but rather we elevate our self-esteem by being privileged to be in contact, in conversation, and in communion with the One who is in the Highest. As human beings, we tend to evaluate our existence by means of time and space, while being in His presence, it goes beyond. This new dimension totally impacts our entire being -thoughts and deeds- and accordingly through this corrupted and temporary life, we taste its true nature –perfection and immortality.
- Joy is one of the essentials for all creatures and specifically for human beings. We work hard; we sacrifice a lot of things with a clear expectation to have joy. Joy is at the top of the list of life’s priorities. Most of the time, because our joy depends upon material and perishable things, it varies in its durability. The more that joy is rooted in values, the more it becomes stable and sustainable. With this understanding, when we are anchored in God, the source of all joys, and we rejoice in Him, we enjoy not only a precious experience of ecstasy, but furthermore this joy motivates our entire existence, and our soul joyfully magnifies the Giver of all good things.
- From the Old Testament, and most especially from the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are always taught that as much as God lives in the Highest, He does not miss any tiny thing, even whispering prayers (I Sam 1:13; Lk 18:13) coming out of the hearts of humble persons. In Psalm 113 we have one of the most eloquent passages that God “who is seated on high, looks far down on the heavens and the earth. He raises the poor from the dust, and lifts the needy from the ash heap” (5-7). Saint Mary’s affirmation that “God looked with favor on the lowliness of His servant” is the best remedy to all those who suffer of any complex of inferiority, for God loves us all and most especially those who are meek. He sent His Only-begotten Son “to bind up the brokenhearted and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Is 61:1-2 and Lk 4:18).
With this positive testimony of the Holy Virgin Mary, the God-bearer, let us all magnify the Lord who looks with favor upon us and saves us all from our sins, and let us praise the All-Holy Trinity. Amen