HER LIFE-GIVING CROSS
“I will take the cup of salvation, and call on the name of the Lord.” (Ps 115:4 / Ps116:13)
This Psalm-verse functions as the “Communion Verse” for all Byzantine feasts in honor of the Mother of God, including the feast of the Dormition (or repose) of Mary, the Most-Holy Virgin and Mother of God, celebrated today by those of us on the Older Calendar. Why? - And I don’t mean “why” the Older Calendar, although that is a good question, ☺ - but why this verse for all Marian feasts?
The Mother of God is being praised for the “cup” of the cross, of which He prayed on that night in Gethsemane, that it be taken from Him, if possible (Mt 26:39). She co-carried the cross, with Her Divine Son, to an extent greater than any other Christian, than any other co-carrier of His cross, ever. This is why, on the Byzantine feast of Her Dormition, we also have the Epistle-reading from Philippians 2:5-9, which calls us to remember His cross and have the “mind” of the Cross: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus… He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil 2: 8). The Mother of God had this cross-carrying “mind,” in Her Christ-loving and hence Christ-like journey.
Thus Her death, like Her life, is Christ-like, in that She conquers death. The tomb could not hold Her, just as it could not hold Her Son. “For being the Mother of Life,” it says in the Kontakion-Hymn of this feast, “She was translated to life.”
Today, as we celebrate the mystery of the Mother of Life, accompanying Her in Her repose-but-not-departure, let me ask for Her help and guidance on my cross-carrying journey, to which all of us are called: “Let this mind be in you,” the Apostle says to me, “which was also in Christ Jesus.” As it was also in Her, Full of Grace, I ask for Her help, whenever “my lamp is going out.” (Mt 25:8)