July 2, 2023

Homily Three on the Feast of the Deposition of the Honorable Robe of the Theotokos (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

With today's sermon we begin the Sunday sermons that will be read in the Holy Temples of our Metropolis in July and August, because in this period our parishes and our villages are visited by many of our brethren who now live abroad, as well as in other cities and places in our country.

Today, our Church celebrates the commemoration of the Deposition of the Honorable Robe of our Most Holy Theotokos and Ever-Virgin Mary in the Church of Blachernae, which was built in the name of the Most Holy Theotokos.

In fact, Saint Nikodemos the Hagiorite writes that the Honorable Robe of our Panagia was woven from wool, which in six months is corrupted by worms and rot. In spite of this, "the honorable robe was completely incorrupt and of the same color, testifying through the incorruption to the incorruption and dispassion of the virginal body."

Our Panagia celebrates many times a year in the Church, because after Christ she is the greatest person in history. From her Christ took on human nature, in her womb Christ was conceived for nine months, from her He was nourished by her milk, from her He received all the necessary care during His fetal, childhood and youth periods.

After all, Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit, by nature, but He developed by nature. Thus, the Panagia played an important role in the life of Christ, that is why she received great Grace from Christ, and is honored by all people, especially by Orthodox Christians.

The important thing here is that today we remember the deposition of the Robe of the Most Holy Theotokos, i.e. a part of her garment. And this is explained theologically.

Adam and Eve after the ancestral sin lost the Grace of God, their nous darkened, death entered their bodies and then this darkness fell on creation. That is why the Apostle Paul writes: "The whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now", since "the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope" (Rom. 8:20-22). That is, we know that until now the whole creation groans and cries out in pain like a woman who is ready to give birth, since the creation also submitted to decay, not because it willed it, but because the one who subjected it so willed it.

This means that the creation has no freedom, but was subject to decay because of man, who by his own choice moved away from God and lost His deifying energy. Thus, the darkening of the nous of the human soul also fell on the irrational creation.

However, the restoration of man that took place by the Grace of God benefited the creation as well, that is why the Apostle Paul writes that "the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God" (Rom. 8:19), i.e. the whole creation waits with longing when the glory of the sons of God will be revealed. Now things have changed, since the Grace of God through the sanctified man is also conveyed to the irrational creation.

We see this in the saints, since even the wild animals submitted to them, and in this way the relationship with the environment is restored.

This is a part of Orthodox theology about the ecological problem and its solution. It is not only about the pollution of the environment, which must also be avoided, but about the corruption that fell on the creation due to man's sin, and its restoration with the rebirth of man. One thing is the rebirth of man which is done by the Grace of God through the mysteries and asceticism, and another is the restoration of the creation which is done through the reborn man.

This can also be seen in the sacred Robe of our Panagia, after she herself became the Mother of Christ, she was sanctified by her Son and her God, and then this Grace also passed to her clothes.

Thus, it seems that man is the center of creation, the cohesive link between the invisible and the senses, he is the summary of all creation, and thus creation is contaminated by man's sins, but also renewed by him, when he becomes the son of God according Grace.

Every effort that people make to avoid environmental pollution is good and praiseworthy, but ultimately the "new heavens" and the "new earth" are made by man who is sanctified, and will be made with the future coming of Christ.

May the Most Holy Theotokos, who is the joy of all of us, as the Mother of Christ, show us the way of our salvation, which is the way of our rebirth and the renewal of the creation in Christ Jesus.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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