This past week, many of us gathered together in front of the grave our blessed Mother, singing the beautiful and centuries-old lamentations as we honored her blessed Dormition. There were many incredibly deep petitions that were sung by the choir, which highlighted just how important the Theotokos is to the life of a Christian.
She was called:
“The door, who now passes through the doorway,” because it was through her that God entered the world.
“Heaven Who now enters heaven,” because her womb (which was more “spacious than the heavens”) was home to the Word of God from the time of the Annunciation to the Nativity.
“The Throne of God who know ascends the Throne of God,” because for a time, God made the womb of the Theotokos into His Throne.
For any Christian, Mary is the ultimate example of how we are called to worship God. It is interesting that we hear from the same Gospel reading for all of the Feast Days that are about the Theotokos, which strikingly, isn’t even about the right Mary! The gospel reading for these feast days speaks of Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus who were once hosting Jesus in their home. In the account, Martha was going around the house like so many of us would be doing if we had an honored guest come. She was cooking, cleaning, and serving those who were gathered while her sister Mary was simply sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to His words.
Martha’s reaction to her sister’s lack of help was one that probably sounds familiar in our own households when there are guests. In the middle of serving, she finally got fed up with the entire situation and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me!”
Our Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha…you are troubled about many things, but one thing…ONE THING…is needed. Mary has chosen that good part, and it will not be taken away from her.”
That one thing was what the Theotokos did best her entire life. When our Lord was born in the midst of a cave in Bethlehem, she was there, sitting at his feet. When He preached throughout all of Israel, the Theotokos was there listening to His words. When Jesus was crucified and sent to the Cross, she was there watching as her Son and God was weeping in agony for the human race.
Even after the Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven, we know from Holy Tradition that the Theotokos did not cease sitting at the feet of Christ. Fulfilling Christ’s commandment from the Cross, St. John took the Theotokos into his home which was near the Mount of Olives. It was there that she spent the remaining years of her life visiting the various holy places in Jerusalem where her Son once walked.
Perhaps Mary’s favorite place to go and pray, was on the spot that she saw her Son’s earthly face for the last time—on top of the mountain where Christ ascended into heaven. She would spend hours praying and waiting for the day when they would be united again. When one examines the life of the Panagia, one can easily see how she spent her entire life doing that one thing that is needed—simply sitting and waiting at the foot of the Savior.
There is something to be said about that stillness that is needed in our day to day routines. Every day, without fail or excuse, we desperately need at least a few minutes to step out of the world, in order to think about our life with Christ and to contemplate that day when we will once again be with him. We must remember that no matter how difficult things are in this life, we have the blessedness of the kingdom awaiting us! We are reminded in the Gospel lesson this morning of what happens if we lose sight of Christ in our lives. When the storms rage and our existence becomes as unstable as a raging sea, if we take our eyes off of our Lord for one moment, we drown!
Like obedient children, we must never forget to follow the example that our Mother has laid out before us. As we venerate her most precious body today, let us spend this feast day weeping at the feet of the one who spent her entire life weeping at the feet of God. Through the prayers of the Theotokos, may we one day join her in the warm embrace of her Son for all eternity. Amen.