On this, the eve of the great Marian feast of the Dormition, that is, the Dormition of the Theotokos, it is proper to consider her veneration and to cast down all error.

For many today, doctrinal matters are determined solely on the basis of scriptural authority, though this premise if faulty as it actually places the final authority with the individual, allowing them to determine what they wish to believe and what they wish to discard concerning scripture. Nowhere does this become more evident than in the topic of Mariam – Mary the Mother of the Lord. To those belonging to the Church, which provided surety of the sacred scriptures and determine what was “canonical” vs. books of dubious authorship, there is never doubt concerning the proper place of Mary, the Mother of God.

To start, let us consider the first chapter from the Gospel of Luke and the story of Mary and her cousin Elizabeth:

The narrative from the Gospel of Luke concerning Mary, the Mother God:

26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. 36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.

38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

39 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah; 40 And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. 41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: 42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. 43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.

46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, 47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. 48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. 51 He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. 53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. 54 He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; 55 As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

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The Archangel Gabriel confirmed to Mary that the child she would bear is the Son of God. The Orthodox assertion that Mary is the Mother of God ends here. What further discussion or proof is necessary. There is an important distinction that we must set forth – that Mary bore the Child Who is Christ God, not mere man, not only God, but both God and man. To many, the title “Mother of God” implies that Mary is the source. God is without beginning, the Alpha and Omega – the First and Last. Mary, the Theotokos (Mother of God) gave birth to the true God, the great “I AM”. Christ entered humanity by the Theotokos and she gave birth to Him, nursed Him, cared for Him, and loved Him. In this is such a wondrous picture of tenderness! Such an example of love for God and humility. It is no coincidence that this reading is appointed for many of the Feasts (special commemorations) of the Theotokos.

In this Gospel we see the following:

26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

  • Indeed we must understand that the Lord would not be born to any commoner but to one who was highly favoured.

29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

  • Again the Archangel calms the maiden and reaffirms what he said so as to remove any doubt from the maiden.

31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

  • The Archangel declares that this child will like none other and likewise, His mother must be like none other.

34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

  • The words of the Archangel fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah:
    “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. ” Isaiah 7:14 And again, the Archangel affirms that the babe in her womb is the Son of God.

36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.

  • The Archangel prophesied to Mary so as to cast aside any lingering doubt. The conception of Saint John hearkens to the Old Testament father of Sampson, who was born to a barren woman, “For with God, nothing shall be impossible” In the sixth month, Elizabeth was great with child, again putting to not any doubt of her state.

38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

  • Oh the wonder, behold the faith of the maiden. The words of the Archangel were enough to soothe her soul. That she would be rewarded for her faith, she was granted to visit Elizabeth and received a great blessing, both from her cousin and the child she was bearing. She saw the fulfillment of the Archangel’s prophecy.

39 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah; 40 And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. 41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: 42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.

  • The young maiden witnesses the fulfillment of the Archangel’s prophecy. In those days, the greater respect was due to Elizabeth, who being the elder also was the first to conceive. Contrary to established tradition and decorum, Elizabeth blessed Mary and witnessed that she was the Mother of her Lord.

43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.

  • Elizabeth reminds Mary of her virtue and great faith in accepting the words of the Archangel. Mary did not require a sign to believe, but through her belief was rewarded to behold the fulfillment of the Prophecy. The sacred Tradition teaches that Mary was raised in the temple from a tender age, being reared with the other maidens and learned in the scripture. She well understood her place and that the Lord had come to dwell among His people.

46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, 47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. 48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. 49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.

  • Mary radiates with her kind and gentle spirit, demonstrating her great humility. And further, she repeats the words of Elizabeth that every generation shall call her blessed, for “blessed art thou among women”.

50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. 51 He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. 53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. 54 He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; 55 As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

  • Mary gives praise and thanksgiving to our Lord and God that He has come to save His people. These words are a striking example of humility for those who claim to love God.

May our dearest Panaghia and Theotokos Mary ever intercede for us with the Master that we might find our reward in the day of the Lord.

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