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"Silent and invisible treasury of grace" - Commentary on the Dormition of the Virgin

The Dormition of the Virgin Mary - Fresco by Catholicos I.M. Vatopedi (1312)

Father Vassilios Argyriadis

"Blessed is the womb and the breasts of those who nursed," a voice from the crowd cried out while Christ was speaking. And He answered: "Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it" (Luke 11:28). We heard these words, since the beginning of the month, day after day, in all the (big) supplications. We also hear them on the day of the feast in the gospel reading of the Fifteenth of August. 

To whom was the word of the Lord referring? At first sight, one thinks that this is a counterpoint that Christ makes between the Virgin Mary, who is blessed by an unknown voice of the crowd, and the people who listen to the word of God and keep it, as if Christ is recommending them as more important ( from the Virgin) the second ones. But in reality, it's not about that. That "menun ge", at the beginning of a sentence, means "indeed, truth", which lets us understand that the word of the Lord concerns the Theotokos herself. In short, the translated dialogue should have been something like this (in free rendering):

"Blessed be the mother who gave birth to you and nursed you!"

"Indeed, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it - to them also belongs she who bore me and nursed me."

In this way, Christ "does not deny kinship by nature, but kinship by virtue" (J. Chrysostom). And the prior relative of kinship by virtue is the Mother of God herself.

Blessed is our Virgin Mother, precisely because she struggled and kept alive in her heart the seed of God's commandments. She did not spend it in the "market" of the world, she did not let the weeds and calculations of the world steal it from her heart. Because the relationship with God is something delicate and sensitive, something that, in order to flourish and grow in the heart of man, needs to stay away from "the many connections of the world, from the many movements and speeches" , as he says the poet. And if we wonder where this can be seen, since the Virgin in the Gospels is a silent and invisible presence, then the answer is precisely because she is a silent and invisible presence ! "And his mother kept all these sayings in her heart" (Luke 2:51). A silent and invisible treasury of grace is throughout the Gospel the Virgin Mary. It exists as a follower of Jesus throughout His journey. Even her few words show Him, refer to His work and nothing else. And she stands faithful to the mystery of her Son up to and under the Cross — silent even when the pain becomes a dagger that pierces her. God's abode from her birth, yet throughout the evangelical journey she does not utter a word. He keeps the word of God, with shyness and humility. She is the new Eve. Not the "second", but the new, the new. Eve betrayed God's word. He didn't keep him, he didn't protect him. In the first challenge, she caught a conversation with the serpent, testified to him the commandment of God, she did not keep it in her heart. And the wicked serpent spread the weeds of the thoughts in her: “You shall not die if you eat of the fruit! On the contrary, you will become like Gods . And Eva lost her way...

What Eve disobeys, the new Eve, the Most Holy Theotokos, observes. Nothing is spent out of the coffers of her heart, nothing is left to be trodden unguarded on the street. Everything is guarded by silence, reticence. No calculation shakes her. "The gate is glorious, the calculation unguided" - that's what a trope calls it. And just as the Eve of Genesis is initially entitled to the presence of God, so too the new Eve is entitled at the beginning of her life to live in the Holy of Holies of the Temple, that is, to live in the presence of God. But unlike Eve, the Mother of God is not only entitled to something at the beginning, but struggles to remain in the place of God, to keep His word, to guard the meeting with Him "in her heart" .

"He who has my commandments and keeps them... will be loved by my father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him" . God reveals Himself to the Mother of God and her body becomes His Body, because she is "the one who had the commandments and kept them" . And what she earned and fought for - Christ became incarnate in her and kept His commandments - we too are called to fight and earn ourselves. His Body and Blood are now given "to the dead" through Her. And His word, like a seed, calls us to preserve it in the soil of our heart, so that it may grow and bear fruit. 

The example of her Theotokiya is an example of theotokiya for all of us.