A Ladder From Earth to Heaven

The Nativity of the Most Holy Virgin Mary

Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos. Fresco, Panagia Olympiotissa Monastery in Elassona, Greece. Late 18th c. Photo: fotoload.ru Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos. Fresco, Panagia Olympiotissa Monastery in Elassona, Greece. Late 18th c. Photo: fotoload.ru     

“This is the day of the Lord, rejoice, O ye people!

Thus exclaims the Holy Church of Christ today.

What is this day of the Lord, when we are celebrating the birth of the Virgin Mary? You know how mankind languished, when as the consequence of the fall into sin, the grace-filled, living connection between earth and God was broken. Mankind languished under the rule of darkness. “Bring my soul out of prison,” exclaimed Old Testament man. As the consequence of sin, Spiritual darkness had so thoroughly taken possession of man that life truly became like a prison. People waited to be brought out from this rule of darkness. They knew that the One will come, Who will erase, destroy the power of sin over man, and they awaited Him. Not only not the prophets spoke of Him—even pagan men spoke of the radiance of divine light. And these pagan men, along with the Old Testament prophets, announced that the lost connection between Heaven and earth must be restored, and mankind must prepare himself for this.

The Lord Himself in His Providence also pointed to this. Do you remember how Jacob fled from his brother Esau? Wearied from fleeing his brother, Jacob fell asleep in the desert. There he saw a Ladder leading from earth to heaven, and on this ladder angels were descending and ascending to heaven; and on the top of this ladder he saw the Lord, Who said to him, “Be not afraid, I am with you!”

This Ladder was revealed to mankind in the person of the Virgin Mary, by her purity, faith, and love, leading us up from earth to heaven; and along this Ladder did the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, come down to us on earth.

The Nativity of the Virgin Mary is the day that heralds the nearing to humanity of the awaited Light, which would lead mankind out from the power of darkness. With a gentle light do we magnify the Son of God, the Messiah. The Sun of Righteousness, come down from the heavens in order to illumine and enlighten the universe and man, is Him we call Christ. And now the birth of the Most Holy Virgin Mary is the first star that heralds the coming down to earth of the Sun of Righteousness and Light of Knowledge. That is why on this day the Church of Christ exclaims, “This is the day of the Lord, rejoice O ye people.”

We also especially solemnly celebrate the day of the birth of the Virgin Mary because this day is the first feast of the cycle of all the feasts of the Lord. In the person of the one born today, a life-creating rivulet has appeared in the desert of the life of Old Testament mankind, and it would soon become a stream of living water for all people. “Rejoice, O ye people!” And how can we not rejoice over the one who has appeared to us as a guiding star. Celebrating this great day in the life of mankind, we continue to sail across the stormy and terrible sea of life with our gaze turned to Her who in her person showed to mankind an image of purity, love, faith, humility, and meekness.

From the lips of the Lord Himself, today we hear the words directed to the suffering Canaanite woman: O woman, great is thy faith, be it unto thee even as thou wilt (Matt. 15:28). Making all efforts to complete the path of our earthly sojourn in purity of heart, in love, and in faithfulness to our Lord Jesus Christ, through the intercessions of the Most Pure Virgin, let us also hear the gentle voice of the Lord, saying, “Be of good cheer! Be it unto thee even as thou wilt.” Amen.

Bishop Mitrophan (Znosko-Borovsky)
Translation by OrthoChristian.com



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