Thursday, August 15, 2013

The end of the fast

The end of the fast! Now we lay aside all earthly cares—What are we to eat? What are we to drink? What are we to wear?—as with the Birthgiver of God we receive the King of all, who comes to carry her, all that she was, is and shall be, into, not only Paradise—that which we once called the Bosom of Abraham but now know to be the arms of the man-loving God, Christ Himself—but into the place which He went ahead of us to prepare, Heaven itself, the land of ‘as it must be,’ the abode of the eternal and life-creating Trinity. How can she not be carried there, ahead of us?

For she follows her Son in everything, as she goes to fulfill all that was spoken of her in the Law and the Prophets, and on the lips of Simeon, the last of the seventy-two translators of the Greek Old Testament, ‘And a sword shall pierce your heart, also.’ In her Son, the human nature He received from her in time mingled with the Divine Nature that was His from eternity, not fusing the two natures, but distinguishing them in a marriage between earth and Heaven never before seen, unimaginable not only to us, but even to the bodiless powers, who still stand in rapt wonder. Now she, through whom this was effected, is taken up.

How can this be? There is more here than human words can tell or understand, but if you would begin to know, it started at the wedding feast in Cana. The unwedded Bride and her divine Son who, through His mystic marriage bed, the holy and life-giving Cross, became the Bridegroom of the universe, by their presence at that feast, opened the door for the first time in history between this world and the age to come, which is the Feast for which all this earthly life is but the preparation. That of Cana was the image and foretaste of that of the age to come, and shows us the way we are to enter.

In this world, we like the servers at Cana have discovered that we have no more wine, that what we had planned for was not enough. Nothing we can do to supply ourselves is of any avail, but the Mother of the Holy One, who sits hidden and unknown to us in our midst, sees our plight, and she makes her request to Him who alone can do all, for He is Pantokrator. Her words to Him, but for the gospel, we could not overhear, but her words to us are clear and leave no room for refusal, ‘Do whatever He tells you.’ She already knows by experience what will happen, if we do. This is how it begins, for us.

The gospel seems to begin, and end, with the Birthgiver of God. From her first hearing of the good news by an angel, to her last hearing of it by the very same messenger, it is, was, and always will be the same good news, the same gospel, though it will look different, feel different, be experienced differently, by people, even by the same person, at various times and places. How little she knew what was to come of her first saying ‘Yes,’ and yet her whole life on earth was contained in that single word, spoken to a bodiless power. The same is true of her last ‘amen’ on earth. And the same is true of us.

For her, it cannot have been easy, but for us it can be, because we have seen and heard what became of her trust in the living God. No, we were not there to witness any of the events of her life known to us in scripture and tradition. We have only our own lives to use as the testing ground for the truth of what we have been told. Will our lives follow the same course as did hers? Will we say ‘Yes’ to the messenger of God when he presents himself? Will we leave more than ‘home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields’ for the sake of the good news as she did, so that our tombs are also found empty?

Yes, the end of the fast! and real life can begin.

1 comment:

yudikris said...

What a beautiful reflection. Indeed, even until now, to reflect on the highest mystery of incarnation through Holy Theotokos leads our souls into joy and wonder!