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It’s interesting what one can see with fresh eyes. Growing into Orthodoxy has kind of been like learning a new language and culture, and some of the humour is starting to be funny. Today being the celebration of the Theotokos’ entrance into the temple, I read certain passages of stricture with a new understanding. Looking on an Orthodox website, one of the readings was Hebrews 9:1-7, and it had beside it in brackets (Epistle, Theotokos).
The passage was describing the ancient Temple and its contents. I realised that each of items mentioned, in some way pointed to Christ. Some of these items, the show bread (Christ the bread of life), the rod of Aaron (His High Priestly role), and the tablets of the law (the Word), were kept inside the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark, which I had long come to understand was a typology of the Theotokos. I realised the holiness of the temple, of the ark. The extreme care and honour that was given to it. How only the High Priest could enter into the Holy of Holies where the Ark dwelt. The Ark which had on it the mercy seat, the Cherubim, and the divine glory (if I’m not mistaken).
I realised how we are each the temple of God, in whom the Holy Spirit dwells. If the temple which was full of Glory, was so Holy, then how much more the humans who are filled with the Spirit? How much more the living temple, the Theotokos, who is called full of grace, in whom God dwelt as man? How much more should we not honour her and call her blessed?
Haggai 2:9 says of the Second Temple “the glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house.” What made the Second Temple even more glorious then splendour of which was decorated by Solomon, and filled with the presence of the divine glory? It was the fact that Christ, God in the flesh, entered it. This divine glory, was still present in Him, as we see in the transfiguration. There it was the disciples’ eyes, which were opened, as opposed to Christ that changed. But it was that God Himself, in His glory now dwelt in flesh, which made this all the more glorious. The incarnation. How much more glorious, than even the Second Temple, is the womb that bore the incarnate God? The Woman, Mary, the Ark, the Temple which bore him. She’s not just the woman who gave birth to God. There is nothing just about that. It is for this reason that she is among women “most blessed,” That she, like the temple is purified to become “full of grace.” For this reason that we sing with her
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.”
Hymn of the Feast:
“Today, the most pure temple of the Saviour, the precious bridal chamber and Virgin, the sacred treasure of God, enters the house of the Lord, bringing the grace of the Divine Spirit. The Angels of God praise her. She is the heavenly tabernacle.”
May we also become full of grace, and with purified eyes, see the Glory of the Lord.
For more on Entrance of the Theotokos to the Temple as well as the accompanying scriptures.