In this video, Fr. Theodore talks about the humility of the Mother of God and her role in human salvation. Archpriest Theodore Gignadze is the rector of the Elevation of the Holy Cross Orthodox Church (JC), Tbilisi, Georgia. This sermon was delivered on August 28th, 2018 in Tbilisi. Watch the full sermon with English subtitles here: https://youtu.be/shzY3iM12qE
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The attitude towards the Most-Holy Theotokos determines many things and it can be said that the Most-Holy Theotokos is a mystery, not because there is anything hidden from us, but because of Her level of achievement.
This is because our ability to see Her grandeur and to have the right attitude towards Her depends not so much on the theoretical knowledge (then it would no longer be a mystery, because everything has been written), but on our personal spiritual life, our personal experience in seeking God, the experience that we have, when we realized that Christianity is the pursuit of a personal relationship with the Living God, a devotion to the crucified God.
Why does the Most-Holy Theotokos have a special place among all creation?
Why is She the highest among all creation, not just human beings, but even the angels of the highest triad?
It’s because She made it possible for the universe (not just for human beings, but also for the angels) to see God, to see Him not only through His energies (as the angels and the saints were always able to see and glorify Him), but as a human being and this human being, Jesus Christ, is God Himself.
The Most-Holy Theotokos gave this opportunity to the universe, however She was not a blind instrument in the Hands of God.
She became a co-worker of God (as Apostle Paul tells us to become co-workers of God) in the fulfillment of this amazing, astounding, great mystery.
She cooperated with God in the deed, which is inconceivable to every mind, even to the minds of the angels.
Thus, She became the highest of all creation, even higher than the Seraphim and the Cherubim, the angels of the highest triad.
The reason She is so significant among humans is not because She was born without original sin, as is the teaching in some denominations, like Catholicism. No. She was not born sinless. She is a human being absolutely like us, with the same fallen nature. She is significant and the highest among humans because She has fought Her fallen nature to the degree that She never committed any personal sin.
In other words, Her fallen nature could not be realized due to her personal heroism and bravery.
Certainly, when God sees this kind of fighting spirit in a person, He helps the person Himself, because we can do no good without God, but the problem is that we fail to make the decision to fight to the very end.
As Apostle Paul says, “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin” and therefore sin defeats us.
The Theotokos resisted unto blood striving against sin, but we do not know how She managed to do this.
Her humility is inconceivable to the mind.
This is why She bore the greatest responsibility and became the Mother of God.
We have said this many times: Imagine, it has been a long time since the Lord Ascended into Heaven, He sits at the Right Hand of the Father – the apostles already have this knowledge and there is a human being walking on the face of the earth who gave birth (bodily) to the One Who sits at the Right Hand of the Father.
Can you imagine the terrible weight of responsibility of the Theotokos?
Can you imagine, if there was even an iota of vainglory in Her, this boundless responsibility would turn even a tiny bit of vainglory into demonic pride and it would make Her perish. Her humility is unreachable to the mind… and She has triumphed over Her fallen nature so much while still being in the flesh that as the Holy Fathers say, the Most-Holy Theotokos is the only person who is beyond the Terrible Judgment and therefore, She is already a citizen of the Eighth Day, the Eternal Day.
We – all of us and the saints, whose icons we venerate and whom we ask for intercession and from whom we learn, including Apostle Paul and all the other saints – all of them will appear before God at the Terrible Judgment and only then will they enter the Eighth Day… because the only person who fought the spiritual battle to the very maximum, not allowing the fallen human nature to realize itself, is the Most-Holy Theotokos.
Thus, as the Church teaches, She ascended with Her body, as the only person who is already realized as a complete human being, in soul and in flesh.
Therefore, She is the most powerful intercessor before God for each one of us.
This is why we celebrate Her dormition with so much significance… The Most-Holy Theotokos fell asleep for three days and then arose, like Christ arose. When they went to see Her, the tomb was empty. This is a teaching of the Church.
Therefore, She is the most powerful intercessor for us.