Friday, August 15, 2008
The Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos
Theotokos definition: God-bearer. This title is a theololgical statement about who Jesus Christ is.
Dormition definition: Falling asleep in the Lord.
Church history teaches us that the Virgin Mary fell asleep in the Lord, and her body was translated to heaven where she is alive in Christ.
Have a hard time believing that because it's not in the Bible?
Well...things just as "strange" are in there, aren't they? Elija being swept up to heaven in a fiery chariot, the righteous dead being raised in Jerusalem at the time of Christ's death, Enoch...just to name a few "strange" Biblical stories in the same genre.
Fact of the matter is, Christian Tradition universally testifies to the Dormition/Assumption of the Virgin Mary. When the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Catholic Churches are saying the same thing, one can know that this is the teaching of the Church that goes back to the beginning.
And besides, as big as we are on keeping and venerating relics of the saints (because we do, after all, believe in the power of the Holy Spirit working holistically in a person's life) one can surmise that if the relics of the most pure Virgin were lying about someplace, there would be a very long line of folks waiting to venerate the, or light a candle or something.
But no. There is not.
I'm reminded of the role of Mary, that she is always pointing to Christ. "Do whatever He tells you", she says to the servants at the wedding feast of Cana. In her icons, she is always gesturing towards the Christ whom she holds in her arms. It's not about her, it's about her Son.
And so it is fitting that this beloved Mother of our Lord would be assumed into heaven. She still points us towards her Son and our God. Through her intercessions she still supports the Church. And in this feast we celebrate a mini-Pascha, looking forward to our own resurrection in Christ.
This feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos, which is really about her being ALIVE in Christ, is also about our hope in the Risen One, and how we will be like Him when he raises us up on the Last Day.