August 15 is dedicated in honor of the Dormition of the Birthgiver of our Lord, when she was taken up bodily into heaven. This feast is popularly called “Great St. Mary”, in contrast with the Feast of the Birth of the Theotokos on September 8, called “Little St. Mary”.
This glorious feast is a blessed opportunity for us to reflect on the Mother of God’s mission on behalf of mankind.
The call given to the Theotokos at the Annunciation, to be the mother of the King of Heaven, reveals a dialogue in which St. Mary participates actively. The Archangel Gabriel reveals to her a mystery which is totally incomprehensible for the human mind, namely that she, a virgin, will give birth to a son. The dialogue between the heavenly messenger and a human being shows from the start the purity, innocence, and special choosing of this human being. For who can carry on a dialogue with the bodiless angels who ceaselessly serve God? Only those who resemble them in purity and service. The Archangel’s greeting shows that St. Mary fully possesses these qualities, being “full of grace”. And it is only in this condition that she can receive the news that “the Holy Spirit will descend upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the Holy One which will be born of you will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). She then responds in the name of all mankind, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). She offers her total being to the work of God, receiving, through faith, that which human reasoning cannot comprehend.
This account is a model for each of us who wish to approach the angels and dialogue with them. First of all we must gain the purity and innocence of St. Mary. Then we must dedicate ourselves, just like the angels, to the service of God. When God reveals Himself to us through His messengers, we must respond in faith, believing that what has been revealed will be fulfilled, “for nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). The dialogue is fulfilled through God’s word to us. This word is oftentimes not what we expected, not that for which we have prayed. It is often something completely different, surprising, beyond our understanding. But because it comes from God, we must receive it and we must fulfill it. God will provide what is necessary.
At this glorious feast I would like to wish much fulfillment, peace and joy to all our believers. May the Holy Virgin Mary guide us all and make us worthy to find ourselves in dialogue with God’s messengers!
+ Archbishop Nicolae