A word on the feast of the Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy
Spirit!

Today the Virgin appears in the temple of God, in
anticipation proclaiming Christ to all…

The angels beheld the entrance of the Pure One and were
amazed. How has the Virgin entered into the Holy of
Holies?

Purity and holiness, light and joy—that
imperceptible spirit of today’s feast and service.
Upon the steps of the Old Testament shrine of the
Jerusalem Temple stands the three-year-old youth, the
great Holy of Holies, triumphantly and rejoicing. And her
elderly and righteous parents, Joachim and
Anna
, and a choir of young maidens with lighted
candles, “singing, playing, and exalting,”
accompany she who is borne as a gift to God. Embraced by
sacred delight, the high priest Zacharias,
the elder and father of the Forerunner, “blessed and
welcomed” the holy maiden, and according to special
revelation bore her into the Holy of Holies.

Small events, so why is this celebration so joyful, so
memorable and significant? Why did this feast become one
of the twelve? Because, my dears, the Entrance of the Most
Pure Virgin into the Temple became a necessary component
in God’s salvific providence for the world.

This event put an end to the centuries long alienation of
man from God and his sojourn under slavery to sin.

The sanctuary of the Jerusalem Temple, where dwelt God and
where He manifested His presence, inaccessible to all
except one high priest, and even then but once a year,
where he entered with the blood offering, bringing prayer
for the sins of the people, is by Divine grace opened to
the God-chosen maiden—the daughter of man. And the
Most Holy Virgin is brought into the Holy of Holies, and,
invisibly for the world, bears within herself a great
offering, a new living offering—Christ—God and
Man.

The Old Testament Temple of God accepted into itself the
seed of new life, the divine maiden in whom will
spiritually sprout and grow the New, saving Covenant of
man with God. The Old Testament Temple of God took into
itself the sacred Ark of the New Testament, the animate
temple of the Savior, the precious bridal chamber and
Virgin—the sacred treasury of the glory of God.

With the entrance into the Temple of the God-chosen maiden
the time came when the grace of God would return to
people, and they would draw near to God, as to the
Heavenly Father, for the Son of God is the Son of the
Virgin and grace proclaims the good news of reconciliation
with God, and the entrance to Heaven is opened to all
desiring it.

And with this entrance it was possible for the first time
to pronounce the words: “Thine own of Thine own, we
offer unto Thee…”

God’s gift to man—the Most Holy
Virgin—the fruit of prayer of her elderly parents,
and through her—Christ, returns mankind to God, as a
gift to Him from man, as a favorable and fragrant
sacrifice.

And with this entrance, in anticipation of the great
changes in the world, it was possible for the first time
to sing the words of joy and hope: “Christ is born,
glorify Him; Christ is descended from Heaven, go forth to
meet Him!”

With the entrance into the Temple of the Most Holy
Theotokos is accomplished a miracle. Heaven united with
earth, and eternity entered into time, hallowing it for
eternity. “Today is the prelude of the good will of
God, of the preaching of the salvation of
mankind…”

How great is this day, singular and unrepeatable—the
day of the beginning of the New Covenant with God on
earth.

A few years remained before the appearance of Christ the
Savior in the world, and the Temple of God was called
amongst the utmost holiness and purity and Divine power to
nurture and cultivate in those years the delicate,
childlike pure soul of the divine maiden, filling her with
the Godhead, and preparing her for the Divine Incarnation.

Day by day the Most Holy Virgin grew in bodily and
spiritual strength in the Temple of God. The strength of
soul of the Most Holy Virgin was formed, grew, and
strengthened by angelic converse and prayer directed
towards God, and labors for the sake of God.

Her bodily strength was supported by heavenly food,
brought to her by the archangel. The high priest
Zacharias, himself unable to daily enter into the Holy of
Holies, with astonishment, disbelief, and fear heard the
conversations of the Virgin with the archangel in the
Sanctuary. And, finding nothing similar in the appearances
of angels
to other people, the high priest was confirmed in the
thought that the time of the fulfillment of the universal
expectation had arrived, and from the blessed one would
come Salvation, from the bride—the Promised One,
from the Virgin—God.

But Mary, nourished by Divine grace, having lost in the
last years of her life in the Temple her sole attachment
to this earth—her righteous parents, gave a vow to
God—to preserve until the end of her life her
virginity and to remain the handmaiden of the Lord, Him
alone serving and devoting herself in all things and
always to His holy will.

Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be
it unto me according to thy word
(Lk. 1:38).

And her heart, given to God, became a temple not made by
hands, a receptacle for God. And soon, very soon
afterwards, Christ—Her Son and the Son of
God—comes and establishes the legitimacy of this new
temple not made by hands, the basis of which will be
Himself.

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that
the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the
temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of
God is holy, which temple ye are
(1 Cor. 3:16-17).
And with this renewal of the temple of God, people will
worship God not only in Jerusalem, but in Spirit and in
truth will they worship Him in every place of His
dominion, wherever is found a faithful human heart that
loves God.

Archimandrite John (Krestiankin)
Archimandrite John (Krestiankin)
For all of us on this great day of
the present feast it is impossible not to ponder and
understand that the path to Heaven, open to men in
this time so far departed from us, all the same
begins on the threshold of this temple of God not
made by hands, when by Baptism man offers himself to
God as a gift and becomes a temple not made by hands,
and the Spirit of God takes up residency within Him.
And our path in life must pass through the temple, to
be reared and grow in it, that this path might end in
the sanctuary of God, in Heaven, where with the
offering of His own Blood has already entered Christ
Himself—the High Priest of all future
blessings.

My dears, the Temple of God always and at all times was an
altar consecrated to God, and sacrifices brought by all.
In the Old Testament times the Lord Himself blessed the
Temple as a place of His dwelling: The heaven is my
throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house
that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my
rest?
(Is. 66:1).

And the first Temple of God—the sanctuary built on
earth, erected by Solomon, the son of the king and prophet
David, in the year 1033 before the Nativity of Christ, was
created directly at God’s bidding. I have
hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name
there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be
there perpetually
(3 Kg. 9:3). And wondrous and holy
and magnificent was the first Temple of the Lord in
Jerusalem, and the Ark of the Covenant, given to man by
God, through Moses, was in it.

The Temple of God at all times is always eternity, in it
lives and abides everything that was from the beginning,
from the creation of the world, and what will be until the
Second and glorious Coming of the Lord. In the Temple of
God everything and always lives—the past, and the
present, and the future. And there are not mysteries in
life which the Temple of God—the Holy
Church—does not know.

But why do the living not know these mysteries; why do
even those who abide in the Temple remain deaf and blind
to them; why do they see and hear so little?

Why was the first Jerusalem Temple, together with the
great shrine, the Ark of the Old Covenant, lost? Why has
that great shrine of the Second Jerusalem Temple,
sanctified by the abiding there of the Ark of the New
Covenant—the Most Holy Divine Maiden—and
sanctified by the appearance there of our Savior and
God—Christ, left us as a reminiscence nothing but
the Wailing Wall? Why should the “New
Israel”—Great Russia—throughout nine
centuries creating within itself the House of God, like
the Old Testament Israel suffer through the seventy-year
captivity by their own and the abomination of desolation
in the holy place—the many, many destroyed churches
and monasteries of God?

We must seek again the answer to all our bitter
“whys?” in the Church and in the Holy
Scriptures, which the Church preserves. It preserves
sacred objects, it preserves truth, but woe to us, the
living, for these storehouses opened, these prophecies
fulfilled before us, appearing for us because of our
negligence, bitterness and secret unbelief as behind seven
seals.

This is what the Lord of Sabaoth said when the first Old
Testament Temple was newly consecrated. Listen to these
words, my dears, spoken to all of mankind by the Lord as a
warning:

But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or
your children, and will not keep my commandments and my
statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve
other gods, and worship them: Then will I cut off Israel
out of the land which I have given them; and this house,
which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my
sight … And at this house, which is high, every one
that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss;
and they shall say, Why hath the Lord done thus unto this
land, and to this house? And they shall answer, Because
they forsook the Lord their God … and have taken
hold upon other gods, and have worshipped them, and served
them: therefore hath the Lord brought upon them all this
evil
(3 Kg. 9:6-9).

They to whom these words were addressed did not hear them.
Will we really not hear them, seeing them fulfilled?

Falling away from God is the cause of all ills at all
times.

The Jewish kings and people apostatized from God,
worshiping strange gods. The Lord punished Israel with
war, and in anticipation of repentance sent the prophet
Jeremiah to the apostates preaching repentance unto
correction. But they did not listen to the prophet, as
they had not listened to the Lord Himself. And Jerusalem
was destroyed, and Solomon’s Temple fell, and the
Ark of the Covenant was lost, and the seventy-year
Babylonian captivity was the lot of sinful Israel.

The Second Jerusalem Temple, built following the return
from the Babylonian captivity, was smaller and not so
magnificent, but the prophets Haggai and Zechariah
prophesied that it would have greater glory than the
first, for the Ark of the New Covenant would be nourished
there. And the fate of this Temple and the discontinuation
of Old Testament sacrifices were prophesied by the prophet
Daniel long before their fulfillment. The final prophecy
about the Second Jerusalem Temple sounded from the mouth
of the Savior Himself. The Lord Jesus Christ wept on the
day of His entrance into Jerusalem, and, seeing Golgotha
near, foretold the destruction of the Temple: And
shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children
within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone
upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy
visitation
(Lk. 19:44).

Rejected, again Israel rejected God, they rejected Christ
the Savior Who took on humanity, condemned Him to death,
and besought in His place Barabbas, a murderer. And
finally, the world hears weeping and wailing for the
blindness of the chosen people: O Jerusalem,
Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest
them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have
gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth
her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold,
your house is left unto you desolate
(Mt. 23:37-38).

Your house is left unto you
desolate—
fearful words taking place, because
people again did not want to be godly.

At one and the same time the Jerusalem Temple reared she
who is the great Holy of Holies and the disciples of
Christ, as well as those, who therein living their lives
far from God, killed the high priest Zacharias between the
Temple and the altar, killed the Forerunner of Christ
John, and crucified Christ the Savior.

Do we not see that a man becomes either a co-worker with
God, or a destroyer of that which the Lord creates? Look,
my dears, how dangerously we walk. You can be in the
Church but not have God, and God punishes people for
dishonoring Him and rejecting the Church. God’s
salvific punishments last decades, intended to return
their human hearts to God. And as a final warning to us
the words of the parable of the vinedressers sounds out:
Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be
taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the
fruits thereof
(Mt. 21:43).

Let us be especially attentive, my dears, creating and
restoring now in great quantity man-made churches, and not
forget the most important New Testament church of
God—our hearts, called to serve God in Spirit and in
truth. Do not forget that we are returning from captivity
amongst foreigners, and do not forget our countrymen who
fight for us and our Orthodox faith, sick, lame, and
spiritually depleted. We were without God for a long, long
time and now stand but at the threshold of the Church,
which will sanctify us, but under one condition: if we
want it.

I will bring you, my dears, the words of the Lord, which
especially now should help us comprehend the critical
moments of our present life: “… therefore
thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have
sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not
enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye
clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth
wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. Thus
saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways. Go up to the
mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will
take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the
Lord. Ye looked for much, and, lo it came to little; and
when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it
.

Why?

saith the Lord of hosts. Because of mine house that is
waste, and ye run every man unto his own house. Therefore
the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is
stayed from her fruit
(Hag. 1:5-10).

We stand upon the threshold of the Church, and must enter
in, having revived within ourselves knowledge of the law
of God, to enter with the fulfillment of our vows already
offered to God by us. And don’t forget, that rulers
alone do not mete out the destinies of countries and
peoples, but responsibility before God for the life of the
world falls on all, on every living person, no matter how
small.

My dears! The grace of God gives us the present time for
repentance. The love of God endures the disease of our
unbelief. The Lord waits to gather us under His wings. Let
us desire salvation, return to the Church of God with love
and desire for Him, and return to God the temple of our
hearts, that the bounties of the grace of God, imprisoned
by our sins, and Heaven may be opened.

The Most Holy Virgin, the God-chosen maiden, the daughter
of man, the first to open Heaven to us, becoming the
mother of suffering and ailing mankind, is always ready to
support, strengthen and guide in life, along the path of
salvation, by her grace all who flee to her with faith and
love.

“We magnify thee, O most holy Virgin, God-chosen
Maiden, and we honor thine entry into the temple of the
Lord.” Amen.

Delivered on Nov.21/Dec. 4, 1994

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