November 21, 2023

Homily on the Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos in the Temple (St. Nektarios of Aegina)

The following homily was delivered by Saint Nektarios the Wonderworker, Metropolitan of Pentapolis, during a vigil on November 20/21, 1904, for the feast of the Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos in the Temple, which took place in the Church of Panagia Kapnikarea in Athens.

"Today" our Holy Church chants "is the prelude of God's pleasure and the proclamation of man's salvation." Glad tidings for humanity, who deeply groaned under the weight of sin and existed under the tyranny of the devil. Glad tidings for all those who by Adam lived and died, for the salvation of the entire human race has been accomplished. The divine promise given to the first-formed held the salvation of the first-formed and their descendants of the world who accepted the Son of the promise.

Today the first-formed rejoice in the prelude of God's pleasure, having been informed of the divine pleasure and knowing the proclamation of human salvation. Today the forefathers of the Theotokos from which the Virgin descended as a divine shoot are informed, that a three year old heifer, has gone to the holy temple, a dwelling-place of God the Master of all.

Today the Prophets, who proclaimed the coming of the Savior by the Virgin, leap, at the completion of what they saw foretold by Divine Grace.

Today the Holy of Holies rejoices, for receiving what was predetermined from ages past, the Virgin Bride of the Great King, from whom Christ came.

Today the heavens rejoice for the pinnacle of the pleasure of the Great God. Today the choirs of angels celebrate for the splendid entrance of the Pure Virgin into the shut Holy of Holies, which was mystically shown by the entrance of the Word of the Father, through the shut Eastern Gate, by which the Only One who could enter was He who sits upon the Cherubim.

Today rejoices the Holy Church, the Bride of Christ, the pride of the All-Holy Spirit, for the completion of the salvation of the human race. Our Holy Church, the Bride of Christ, rejoices today at this celebratory festival, for through the entrance of the Most Holy Virgin into the Holy Place, comes the foundation of the pleasure of the Father by the entrance within the temple by the Virgin.

Today the Church celebrates, for as a rosy-fingered Dawn from heaven she comes, to enlighten, enliven and save the world.

Today is proclaimed the abolition of the ancient worship of types and shadows and the worship in spirit and truth is proclaimed. Proclaimed by this entrance, is that the ancient has passed, behold all things are new. The Virgin entered the Holy of Holies, so that God from the Holy Place would come through Her to save mankind.

This is the reason for this joy, this is the reason for this august celebration of our Holy Church. Justly do we rejoice also and celebrate in it, for we owe to this feast the beginning of the salvation of our race.

We rejoice and celebrate, for we have attained the salvation we desired.

We rejoice, for we have been liberated from suffering.

We rejoice, for we have made a trade with God.

We rejoice, for we have become children of God.

We rejoice, for the dominion of death has been abolished and the might of the devil has been crushed.

We rejoice, for the gate of Paradise has been opened.

We rejoice, for we have received the ultimate good.

We rejoice, for the kingdom of God on earth has been accomplished and shines.

Great and justified is our joy. As great as it is however, great also should be our fear, that we not be children of indifference or negligence or unlawfulness of the Divine Law or enslave the moral freedom of the will to the will of the flesh, to the exhortations of the law of sin, and lose our salvation and joy and turn it into sorrow.

The gates of Paradise have been opened!

What do I mean opened?

Our Lord has brought us all into Paradise, and in Paradise are all those baptized in His name, and His Holy Church is Paradise on earth. Her children, reborn within, are the children of the Kingdom of God. Knowing this, let us not be found to appear unworthy of our high calling and be expelled - dare I say! - from Paradise, as those without a wedding garment were expelled from the wedding of the Son of the King.

Let us be careful, lest for our life we sacrifice the purpose of our life and lose eternal life. The purpose of our life is that it ends and results in us becoming saints and that we become children of God and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven.

Let us therefore be careful, lest for this present life we be deprived of that of the future - God forbid!

Let us not due to the cares and concerns of life neglect the purpose of our life. We should always keep in mind, that we have a mission in the world to fulfill, so that we become the image and likeness of God and become communicants of divine goodness and blessedness.  Let us not be neglectful of this mission.

Let us not be afraid of this work, having God as our protector in this along with the inherent desire for good. Ask from God and you will receive.

Do not neglect, so that we do not repent.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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