St John of Damascus: Do You Remember the Just with Praise?

Feast of the Dormition of the Holy Mother of God

Dormition_Square_2.jpegTHE JUST are remembered with praise,” says the wise Solomon (Prov. 10:7). “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints,” proclaims God’s ancestor David (Ps. 115:6 LXX). If, then, all the just are remembered with praise, who will not give praise to the source of justice, the treasury of holiness – not in order to glorify her, but in order to win eternal glory for oneself? The tabernacle of the Lord’s glory, after all, is in no need of glory from us; she is the city of God, of whom “glorious things are spoken,” as holy David says to her: “Glorious things are spoken of you, City of God!” (Ps. 86:3 LXX). For what other city shall we understand for the invisible and uncircumscribed God, who contains all in His own hand, but her who alone truly welcomed the super-essential Word of God, in a way beyond all nature and essence – who received the God who exists in a way beyond all limitation? Glorious things were spoken of her by the Lord Himself; for what could be more glorious than to receive the true and original will of God (cf. Is. 25:1)?

Neither the human tongue nor the mind of the angels that live beyond this universe can give worthy praise to her, through whom it has been granted to us to gaze clearly on the glory of the Lord. What, then – shall we keep silent, cowering in fear, because we cannot praise her worthily? Not at all! Or shall we stretch out our foot over the boundary, as they say, and ignore our own limitations? Shall we shake off the reins of fear, and boldly reach out to the untouchable? Never! Mingling, instead, fear with longing and weaving from them both a single wreath, let us, in holy reverence, with trembling hand and yearning soul, pay gratefully the humble first-fruits of our minds, as we must, to the Queen Mother, the benefactress of all nature!

~St John of Damascus, On the Dormition of the Holy Mother of God, Homily 1


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