A HOMILY ON THE DORMITION OF THE MOTHER OF GOD
We have peace when we are with the Lord and His Most Holy Mother; she is always here to help whenever we call upon her. In her we have unshakable support, which remains the same for all ages and which will not change. We cannot find this support anywhere else on earth, not even among our family members, let alone in things like riches, earthly power, and honor. We can be left without all these things, but the Lord and His Most Holy Mother will never leave us.
And so, my children, as we celebrate the great feast day of the Most Holy Theotokos, let us prepare ourselves for the heavenly life, let us teach our hearts to always long for God as the angels do, and for the Most Holy Theotokos, for she is our Intercessor and prays unceasingly for us weak ones before the throne of her Son. Whenever we turn to her in our hearts, she is always there to help. Countless are those on this earth whom she has comforted, and countless are the souls she has led from the depths of hades to the Kingdom of Heaven. Let us, therefore, learn to become accustomed to the Heavenly Kingdom while we are still in this life.
From the beginning of our lives, we have all sinned gravely. The Lord has warned us to be very careful lest we have a life of hardship and sorrow, and endure much pain until we humble ourselves and realize that we have sinned. For the Lord has said, Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee (Ex. 20:12). That is the law. The Lord showed us how to honor our parents by His own example when, as His suffering on the Cross was nearing an end, He entrusted His Most Holy Mother to His beloved disciple, John. He said to His Mother, Woman, behold thy son! (John 19:26). And to His disciple He said, Behold thy mother’. (John 19:17).
(In the Aramaic tongue in which our Lord spoke, the word “woman” implies greater honor than the word “mother.” Today, it is difficult for us to understand how the Lord could have addressed His mother as “woman.” Likewise, when the Lord was in Cana of Galilee, the Most Holy Theotokos turned to Him and said, They have no wine [John 1:3]. And He said to Her, Woman, what is that between Me and thee? Mine hour is not yet come [John 2: 4]. In our language, when we say “woman” this has a somewhat disrespectful meaning, but when we say “mother” it is much more intimate and affectionate. But in the Aramaic tongue, the word “woman” is much more respectful.) See how the Lord took care of His Mother in His last hour upon the earth!
We need to look to the Lord, His Mother, the apostles and the saints as examples and renew our life. We must repent and leave behind our former way of life with all our bad habits, and we must strive to learn obedience. If anyone has hurt us—our parents, our brother or sister, a neighbor—then we must forgive them all from the heart, and when we have done so, the Lord will know. Our forgiveness must not be confined to words only. The Lord wants us to forgive from the heart. Our neighbor will then feel our forgiveness and no words will be necessary. The person will know in his heart that we have forgiven him. This is the way to learn about the heavenly life and to acquire inner peace. Let us turn to the Most Holy Theotokos in our hearts and ask her to intercede for us, that the Lord might give us strength and that He might number us among His angels and saints who glorify God throughout all eternity. Amen.
~Adapted from Elder Thaddeus, Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives: The Life and Teachings of Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica, translated by Ana Smiljanic, compiled by the Saint Herman of Alaska Brotherhood