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St Herman of Alaska Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
161 N. Murphy Ave. Sunnyvale, CA 94086
Afterfeast of Nativity of Theotokos

Afterfeast of the Nativity of the Mother of God

Today the church is adorned in blue as we continue to celebrate the feast of the Nativity of the Mother of God.

This is the first of the great feasts of the new calendar year, which began last week. And it is appropriate that we mark the beginning of the new year with this feast of the birth of she who will give birth to God!

I would like to share with you a short homily for this feast which captures perfectly all the joy and expectation we may have as we look upon this time of new beginnings, this time of hope. The author of the homily is unknown to me… it was delivered in Kiev some years ago.

‘The birth of any person is a mysterious event. This is not just another event for the registrar; a new being is come into the world, filled with inextricable mystery. In fact: what will this newborn person bring to the world, and what will life give him? This is why parents and relatives greet each new child with awe and trembling. This is why the first cry of a new being resounds forever in his parents’ hearts. How will this person newly come into the world live his life? Will he be talented and capable, will he enrich mankind’s common treasury of gifts, or will his days be grey and mediocre, will he depart unnoticed after tasting sorrows and sadness on this earth, all memory of him lost? The more notable a person is in life, the more solemnly do people celebrate his birthday.

The birth of our Most Holy Lady Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary is a source of joy and consolation. In the person of the Mother of God, God gave as a gift to the world a Being before whom so many people would bow down and offer so many prayers, before whom rivers of human tears would flow. The Mother of God so fully and vividly expressed herself concerning herself with the words of the hymn: My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior (Lk. 1:46-47). Her whole life lies in this: Her soul magnifies the Lord for the wisdom of creation, for love and goodness. And this regardless of the sorrows and suffering that filled her heart at the foot of the Cross.

And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. In this lies her constant state of being. She has seen human weakness and vice. She sees them also now, and as a mother, her heart is wounded. But despite this, she remains on the heights of contemplation of heavenly sanctity, and her spirit ever rejoices in God her Savior, Who gave Himself as a sacrifice for the redemption of mankind. In this deep understanding of our spirit with the joy of being God’s Birth-giver lies the source of the Theotokos’s influence on the hearts of the faithful and those who pray to her. Truly, so many people who in faith have recourse to her maternal aid receive help and consolation.

According to the example of the Mother of God, a Christian should always magnify God and rejoice in Him. In this joy there can be no place for sorrow, depression, or despair, for feelings of loneliness or alienation. The Lord loves everyone, and his Most Pure Mother intercedes for all without ceasing.

How often in life do we experience a thirst for purity, renewal, and joy. And how often does our unworthiness, do our sins obscure the light of joy and Divine brightness? On the day of the Birth of our Lady Theotokos we turn to her, and we ask the Most Pure and Blameless One to help us be victorious over sin and all impurity, so that with a pure heart we might glorify God and rejoice in Him. Whoever runs to her with faith and hope will not leave empty and unheard, for to her is given the grace to pray for us and help us. Amen.’

Indeed, whoever turns to the Mother of God with faith and hope will not leave empty and unheard.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we have begun a new year and we stand now in the joyful light of the good news of the birth of the Mother of God. Her parents, Joachim and Anna, suffered for so many years of barrenness… they prayed daily that God would grant them a child, and in due time, God granted them this joy. So too must we, who may suffer from the barrenness of our soul, from the frustrations of the unfruitfulness of our spiritual life… we must also pray to God that He would enkindle the divine spark in us, that the light of Christ might be born in us.

The Mother of God is indeed our intercessor before the throne of her Son and our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us never hesitate to turn to her, for she prays for us from her purity, from her motherly affection, and from her closest proximity to her Son. Through her prayers and through her example, may each and every one of us bear a soul which never diminishes, but always magnifies the Lord… and may we be therefore granted a spirit which ever rejoices in God our Savior!

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