The Prelate’s Sermon
(Sunday, August 14)
Today the Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates the Assumption of the Holy Virgin Mary the Theotokos, the God-bearer. According to tradition, when Mary entered 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! They 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 crowning her as the Queen of the heavens.
I would like to share a few thoughts inspired by this magnificent event which refreshes our faith and trust in the infallible promises of our Lord and Savior.
- The Assumption of Saint Mary is a solid sign of the blissful reward to all those who obey, believe, and follow the Way, the Truth, and the Life. This post-Resurrection miracle, even though it is not mentioned in the New Testament, nevertheless, does not diminish the role of the Theotokos, the God-bearer, in the mystery of the Redemption and in the history of the early church’s growth. For it is well rooted in the oral Tradition transmitted to all generations by the Chosen Ones, the apostles who shared three years of their lives with the Heavenly Gift.
- While the churches founded by the Apostles revere Saint Mary and celebrate this historical event, in Reformed churches the veneration of the Holy Virgin Mary is misinterpreted with the argument that we have one Lord, one Savior and one Mediator Jesus Christ. The adoration of this earthling, Saint Mary, is never in competition with the Lordship of the Highest, but rather a supreme respect toward the One in whom the Creator humbly Tabernacled.
- Those who choose not to venerate Saint Mary in such a special way often quote two Biblical verses where our Lord addresses her as “woman” and not as “mother” (at the miracle of Cana, Jn 2:4; and on the Cross, Jn 19:26). They also recall that when Jesus was preaching and the Apostles informed Him that His mother and brothers were outside, He responded “whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Mt 12:50; Mk 3:35).
“The favored one of God” (Lk 1:30), by obeying in word and action to the Providential Salvific Sacred plan, according to this Dominical statement deserved to be not only the biological mother of the One who was born from the Father before the Ages, but also in the spiritual realm enjoys prime honor among all those who do the will God.
- Our Lord Jesus Christ not only empowered His Disciples with Divine grace to do marvelous miracles on earth, but also promised them to sit with Him in judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Mt 19:28). What about the honor bestowed upon Saint Mary: “the earthly Bride offered to the Heavens” who carried in her womb the Uncontainable by the universe, nurtured the Provider of all creation, and “a sword pierced her soul”, for the sake of our Salvation.
Indeed, the Divine Love showers His blessings more than we can think, imagine, and understand upon all those who live Christ-centered live and without doubt commend themselves to the heavenly Father, as did the “mother and virgin maiden of Christ” described in an Armenian hymn.
Let us all wholeheartedly thank the Lord on the sacred occasion of pouring His Divine love through the Assumption of the magnified one. Let us all carry in our mind, nurture in our soul the word of God and sing with the Holy Virgin Mary, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Lk 1:46-47). And even when swords pierce our soul, let us always be strengthened with the Hope of Resurrection and the blessings of the eternal life, and praise the All-Holy Trinity. Amen.