Homily of His Beatitude in the Maryamiyya…
Homily of His Beatitude in the Maryamiyya Cathedral – Damascus
August 15- 2013
The Virgin, of whom we celebrate the Dormition and translation to heaven today, would have never imagined that, one day, she would enter the bridal chamber of eternal glory in this way. It never occurred to the daughter of Joachim and Anne that, from the threshold of the Temple, she would enter the threshold of Paradise and become superior to the angels of Heaven.
She could never have thought that, behind the veil of the temple, she would penetrate the veil of the heavens simply by saying, "Behold, I am a maidservant of the Lord." Mary entered the temple of the Lord at a very young age. She never realized that she would rise higher than the seraphim thanks to these few words: "I am a maidservant of the Lord." The angel came and announced to her that she would give birth to Emmanuel. She asked him: “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” Her question did not conceal any doubt nor opposition. The angel said: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you; the One who is to be born is the Son of God.” Then she answered, "Behold, I am a maidservant of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word." This means, "Let the will of God be done, not my own will."
It is as if she was anticipating the prayer to be taught later by her son Jesus: “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done.”
The Virgin did not realize then that her few words would knock on the door of divine compassion and attract the spring of divine mercy for humankind. In the manger of Bethlehem, the Virgin placed her child as a manger of love for all humankind. In Bethlehem, the Virgin brought to the world the rational Sun of Justice. She followed this Sun in all stages of his earthly life until his ascension to the Heavenly Father. The Virgin Mary is the daughter of this human clay, which was kneaded with humility and purity, then ripened as an immaculate Bridal Chamber of God the Word.
The resurrection of the Lord is also our own resurrection. The resurrection of the Lord is to treasure virtue and be crushed with humility. This is the case of the Virgin Mary, who could not have known that when she uttered these words: “Behold, I am a maidservant of the Lord”. She did not know that she would become the first to tread the path of resurrection and victory. How could she know, being a simple girl garbed with modesty, having tried her best to stay away from the path of glories and leading victories?
Yet, she never forgot that the Lord is Generous and Bountiful, and that He bestows upon the pure ones the well-spring of kindness and goodness. Mary has opened unto us the path of resurrection. Therefore, her son did not leave her a captive of death.
From the temple of Jerusalem, to the manger of Bethlehem, to the wedding of Cana in Galilee, then to the Passion, the Resurrection, and the Ascension, Mary knew all the way what was the core of true Resurrection. She learned that the path to resurrection is earned by giving in to the will of the Lord and purifying the soul to make it resurrect from the stains of the fall and of vices. The resurrection of the Lord in Mary gave her first the ability to witness the resurrection of her son. From there, from the empty tomb, Mary became an example for the fallen humanity to learn that when the soul is humbled, complies with the will of the Lord Almighty and abandons self-will, it is elevated to the stages of eternal glory and is granted the garment of true resurrection. Because Mary is the first daughter of resurrection, the Lord God has translated her soul and body to be with him. How could it be otherwise, since she delivered him as a light into light, a life into life, and a luminous glitter that shines to those in black darkness?
We beseech you, Holy Virgin, whose son translated you to the bridal chamber of his eternal glory on this day, we beseech you from the Church that has been bearing your name throughout the ages, to protect all the souls that came for refuge in the shadow of your holy protection. We ask you to intercede with your son and our God, that He may look from the height of the cross upon his children in Syria and in the whole world. We ask you to intercede to him, as you did in Cana of Galilee, that our hearts be comforted by the wine of his divine consolation. We ask you to wipe the tears from the eyes of those who are grieved, and to return our country to its first shining days. We pray that you overshadow it with the veil of your inevitable protection. We ask you from the apse of the Maryamiyya Church for the affection of your son, as He hangs on the Cross of his glory, so that He eases with the nectar of his divine love the souls that were grieved with heavy tears and give solace to a country cut off by violence. We ask you to ease the sorrowful hearts and return the kidnapped, specially Bishops Paul and John. We ask you to hold in your warm embrace the souls of the departed and bring them closer to the bosom of Jesus. We ask you to enter the cave of our souls, as you entered the cave of Bethlehem, and to flood it with the light of your Newborn Son, that our souls may become a frame of light to the whole universe. We ask you to place in the manger of our wavering souls the glimmer of divine comfort, just as you placed in the manger of Bethlehem Jesus, the Source of consolation and Depth of mercy. We ask you to pray from the height of your glory as you prayed with Jesus' disciples and to heal the hearts of those who bear his name with the fragrance of your delicious and comforting relief. We ask you, from the vicinity of the Church of John of Damascus, the leader of hymnographers, to cover the people of Damascus with the abundance of your care and to visit this good country with a breeze of peace from your Son, forever glorified. Amen.