The Feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos (2011)

“At the Assumption this fullness of deification – this purity and inner glory of soul- was made outwardly manifest in her body, which was received into heaven: that is to say (for heaven is not a geographical area), her body was made fully ‘spiritual’. Man, so the Bible teaches, is not a soul imprisoned in a body, but a unity of body and soul; the body is to be redeemed and deified as well as the soul. All Christian saints, therefore, await the resurrection from the dead, when their bodies will rise again, transfigured and glorified. What has happened in our Lady’s case is simply this: because of her outstanding purity and holiness, this bodily resurrection has been anticipated. By God’s special decree she had passed beyond death and judgement and lives already in the age to come, thus constituting (with her Son) the first fruits of the transfigured creation. Yet she is not separated by her Assumption from the rest of the human race, for every Christian, by virtue of his baptism, lives already in some degree in the age to come; and that same bodily glory with the Mother of God already enjoys, all of us hope one day to share.”  (Timothy Ware in The Orthodox Ethos: Studies in Orthodoxy Vol. 1, pg. 148)

Wishing all my fellow Christians a blessed Feast day.

Sinking in the Sea of Life

Then Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was many furlongs distant from the land, beaten by the waves; for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the    disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.  But immediately he spoke to them, saying, “Take heart, it is I; have no fear.” And  Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus; but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “O man of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” And when they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret.      (Matt. 14:22-34)

While walking on water is neither a daily activity for Christians, nor did Jesus ever promise it would be, we still can draw lessons from the story for our daily lives.  One of the hymns from the Orthodox funeral service speaks about the “sea of life surging with the storm of temptations.”   There are many storms, besides temptations which we face and find ourselves in need of God’s comfort and presence.

“Some kind of disturbance comes…or there is some other kind of difficulty, and it produces anxiety in our hearts. Instead of keeping our eyes on the Lord like the Apostle Peter, we pay attention to the turmoil around us and we start to sink into depression and anxiety and fear of what might happen. I’m going to sink under all this weight of anxiety and I’m going to drown under the weight of everything! We take our eyes off the Lord and forget what we are doing and forget Who He is to us and who we are to Him. The Lord, being merciful, usually will send someone to remind us that we should call to Him (because we are usually not as swift as the Apostle Peter to say quickly Lord save me!) When we get the reminder, then we might remember to call to Him and trust Him to pull us out of the trouble, whatever it is.”   (Bishop Seraphim,  From the Bishop’s Desk, pg. 22)