正如St. Symeon the New Theologian所言：「在教堂裡面，我們總是看見聖母懷抱著襁褓中的耶穌。這個畫面是我們每個人的寫照。我們也要像聖母一樣，成為耶穌基督的母親，孕育耶穌基督在我們體內。」我們應該像聖母一樣，將耶穌孕育在體內、守護在懷中，直到我們獲得真正的轉化，變成耶穌基督的形象。St. Symeon the New Theologian的教導，傳遞了非常美麗的神學，然而，很不幸的，在台灣有些基督徒無法接受這樣的思想。前幾天，我向一位新教教會的女牧師提起這件事情，她有點不悅，因為她無法接受這樣的觀念。
正如St Epiphanius of Cyprus（Salamis的主教，卒於西元403年）所言：「創世紀第3章第20節告訴我們，上帝召喚亞當成為人類的父親，召喚夏娃成為人類的母親。這只是一則象徵性的預言、並非事實，它預言了聖母馬利亞將成為所有人的母親，而新亞當—耶穌也將出現。耶穌才是我們真正的父親，他是所有在聖水和聖靈中重生的人的父親。因此，我們並非亞當的後代，而是新亞當—耶穌基督的後代。」
2013.8.18 sermon by Fr. Jonah
First, I should remind you that every day we have liturgy at 10:30, so if anybody wants to come, you are very welcome.
This week we celebrated the death and ascension of the Holy Mother on the 15th of August, and I will say to you a few things about the Holy Mother. The very beautiful song for the Holy Mother that we sing that day says, “Oh Virgin, who are completely without any sin, the bounds and restrictions of human nature have been overcome in you, for even when you gave birth, you remained virgin, and through death you became the mother of life. A virgin after bearing a child and alive after death, Mother of God, save all of us and your inheritance.” It is such a deep, beautiful and theological song. [Says a few words in Greek.] If I say it to you in the Greek language you cannot understand, but it is such deep philosophy, because the Holy Mother is the reason that God created everything because everything was created, not just to exist, but to grow and finally to open and become the Mother of God.
So all the world was created from the different creatures until finally God entered and was united with the world. But God is not abusing the world. God wants the world’s cooperation, wants the world to say, “Come!” And finally the product of the world, the integration of the world – the Holy Mother – said to God, “Come!” And God came to her and He fulfilled the reason that He made the world.
So in the Holy Mother, now we can understand the different divisions that we have had since the beginning of the world: in your Mother everything is overcome. The thesis, the nature, the benzhi of things is divided, it is separated. We see the separation in gender: we have men and women. We have time; we have life and death. We have, for example, virginity, and then afterwards, giving birth. But the Holy Mother overcame these things. She gave birth but she remained virgin. She died (on the 15th of August, as we celebrate) but her son could not allow his mother to be dead, so He resurrected her and He took her to Heaven, where she is now.
The Holy Mother fulfills, as I say, the mystery of the death of gender because nature, which is divided, in the Holy Mother becomes a relationship. The relationship, this ‘oneship’ between each other and the relationship with God overcomes any division of nature. God became human, Jesus Christ, who is man but in this manhood there is no idea of man as we know to have children and a family. But also the Holy Mother, as a woman, is the acceptance of God in human nature. So now we understand the deep mystery of this gender, which is not divisions but is integration. And we also understand that God, of course, has no gender. And when he is called Father, this does not mean he is a man. Actually, in the Song of Songs, God once is called female.
But we understand also that the Holy Mother represents the Church, and she is the picture of the Church. And the Church says to the Lord, “Come Jesus, come to me!” So, again we see the relationships, how everything becomes related. Yes, Jesus arranged all these ways: how to come to the Church: how every time to be asked by some group of people: the Apostles and the successors to the Apostles, who do the sacraments, who give you the Holy Communion. But, who accepts, who receives the Communion? It is the Holy Mother, the image of the Church, who receives God and makes a relationship with God to be practical, to be active, to be dynamic.
So Mary is not a priest, she does not do this special service in the Church, but she has the total priesthood to offer herself to God completely, because nobody loved God more than the Holy Mother, and nobody opened themselves to God to allow God to enter than the Holy Mother. And this is the way that each of us should follow, because the Holy Mother started a new way, unknown even to the angels, to be with God and God to come to her.
And you see, this is the way that Jesus accepted the celebrations of the Holy Mother. In the Gospel that we read today, Mary and Martha were waiting for Jesus Christ and Jesus said, “Who is my mother? She who keeps the word of God.” When a woman prays to the Holy Mother prays, she said, “Blessed is the womb from which you came out and the breasts that gave you milk.” This shows the nature, because Mary is the mother of God. Jesus also said about the relationship, “More blessed are those who keep the word of God and believe in Him. These are my mother and my brother and my sister.” We – you – are the brothers and the mothers of Jesus Christ. And as St. Simeon the New Theologian says, “When we see the Holy Mother, as we have in the churches, holding the baby Jesus, we must understand that she is the picture of each of us. We must become the mother of Jesus Christ and take Him inside me.” We must grow Jesus inside us, and finally to transform us into her, His image on us.
I say this because this is the beauty of the theology which unfortunately in Taiwan is completely not accepted. This week I was in a meeting with other Christians and when I said this, one woman – a Presbyterian minister – scolded me because she does not accept that we are images of God, images of Jesus Christ, who must grow inside us.
The Holy Mother loved Jesus so much, and she gave birth without pain, but when this spear hit the heart of Jesus Christ [gesturing toward his heart with the knife used to cut the bread for Communion], it hit her heart as well. And it is very important that Jesus said to her from the Cross, “Woman, here is your son.” So He gave her John, and through John, he made her our mother. And Mary accepted this motherhood. And he said to John, and through John to each one of us, “This is your mother.” She is our mother because Jesus raised her to be our mother.
As St Epiphanius of Cyprus [bishop of Salamis, d. 403] says, “When it says in Genesis 3:20, when God made Eve to be called mother of all the human beings, it was not really Eve who was the mother of all of us: this was prophecy of the Holy Mother, who is the mother of all of us. Also, it is not really Adam who is our father because Jesus is the new Adam, and He is really our father, to those who are born again by the water and the spirit. So we are not children of Adam, but we are children of the new Adam: Jesus Christ.
We see in the”Revelation” that the Holy Mother is deeply identified with the Church. The woman who goes to the desert and a dragon wants to eat her children: yes it is the Church of course, but it is the Holy Mother, is the image of the church. The Holy Mother is not only opening herself, and this is the center and the deepest meaning of the priesthood. But she is always praying, asking her son for all of us, for all her children, for all the creatures. Living without sin in this world, with only just a few mistakes, like she did not understand that when Jesus was only twelve years old he went to the temple. But having such a clean mind, she became the real temple of God.
And these are all symbolized in the Old Testament. What was the Tabernacle, the most important thing of the Jews? It was a box, and inside the box was written the law. That was a symbol of the womb of the Holy Mother, who received the real Word of God. In the Liturgy, you see (and this is why I have here the altar open so everyone can see how we prepare the Liturgy) when we see that after we cut the bread, which is called the Lamb and symbolizes the body of Jesus Christ, then we cut the small piece of bread that represents the Holy Mother. Then we say, “The queen starts in your right hand.” And you see in the liturgy, after the consecration, after calling the Holy Spirit to change the bread and the wine, then who do we praise? The Holy Mother.
We offer the Liturgy for the Holy Mother also, for this is joy of Heaven, and this is her joy. And we praise her as more honorable than the angels, greater than any angelic creature that is so close to God. In the Orthodox Church we have such beautiful and theologically deep prayers and songs for the Holy Mother. It is very good to study them by yourselves and sing them to the Holy Mother.
And we see how many time the Holy Mother is doing something to our lives. Some sign, some protection, some small miracle. In so many places, all over the world, she made her presence so strong to be there. And so, remember and pray to the Holy Mother, and meditate on her mystery , which is the way to love God. In every Orthodox church, above the altar is a huge, though here it is small, Holy Mother with outstretched hands, giving a big hug to everybody. Of course, we see insider her is Jesus Christ, so she is calling us to put Jesus inside each of us.
I will say only a few words for the Gospel today. In it the people had nothing to eat, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Give them something to eat.” And the disciples said, “We don’t have enough, just five small loaves and a few fish. It’s not enough for so many people.” But Jesus blessed the food, and it multiplied and was more than enough.
And remember, in our work, we feel our obligation is to find a job, give money to your family. But you may say, “God, I don’t have a job. I have only a little bit of something.” Don’t be afraid. God can multiply the small things that we have. He will definitely multiply them to be more than enough for our beloved people and for society. This is our faith. So when you have difficulties, remember, say to the Lord, “I have only this.” [Gesturing with open hands.] He knows what He will do. And in the Epistle today, we saw about those who divide the Church. I wish that the people who tried to split this church would read this epistle, which is to their condemnation. But for you, my people and my children, my children of God, always give to God your small things that you produce, and your small thoughts and your good heart, and God will multiply them.