Friday, November 18, 2016

The Myth and the Theotokos

         In the Divine Liturgy we celebrate real history. We don’t celebrate myths, religious ideals, or the wisdom of men. Its a history according to God’s reckoning and one that requires us to have faith. For the majority of those that would attended a Divine Liturgy there might not be a contention with what I just said. If there is, we have unlimited manuals of apologetics that can explain how everything can make historical sense. Even with events like the resurrection any doubt can be talked down. I bet St. Paul could have used some of the apologetics that we have today. When he came preaching the resurrection to Greeks many of them thought he was nuts (Acts 17:32). The resurrection just did not make any sense according to the way the Greeks understood history. For those that did accept the preaching of St. Paul they were accepting something they could not explain away. This was a big risk for them but one that must have been fueled by an authentic encounter with Christ.
           The Divine Liturgy is our greatest encounter with Christ. As of such, it should determine our understanding of history even if there is a risk involved. The liturgical feasts that we celebrate in our tradition have changed the world and continue to do so. The feasts are historical and at the same time beyond history. They exist within and outside of time and are the salvation for the World. As I said, we don’t celebrate ideas but real events that continue to shape history. It is in celebrating these very events that we the baptized bring salvation into the World. In fact, I would be bold to say that if we neglect an opportunity to participate in a liturgy the World suffers. It’s a mystery why God chooses to bring salvation into the world through human participation. On the other hand, human participation is pretty much the content of the feasts we celebrate.   

With all this being said, I will now proclaim a historical fact: If the Theotokos as a child did not enter the sacred part of the Jewish Temple none of us would be saved. I make this statement based on an element of one of the Great Feasts of our Church, “The Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple”. Tradition teaches us the Theotokos was brought by her parents to serve in the temple community and it was there she was led by the High priest into the depths of the temple where she became the true holy of holies. This event is historically impossible from what we know about Judaism at the time. It’s just as impossible as a person coming back from the dead or ascending into heaven. In contrast, if these things did not happen none of us would know salvation.
God is always intervening in history. Our Tradition celebrates this intervention and perpetuates it. I know that this “The Entrance of the Theotokos into the Temple” has sometimes been subject to debate. It comes from a non-canonical source and no historical science could verify its validity. However, it’s part of our sacred Tradition. If you were to call this feast into question its understandable. However, the next time you attended this liturgy ask yourself what you are celebrating. Is it a Myth, theological ideas, good intentions, or an event that saves the world?  


  1. Thank you, Ric for the timely reflection!

  2. This will be the beginning of a talk my husband will gve tonight- thanks you!