The Theotokos, pinnacle of creation
The holy Theotokos, Mary the Mother of God, is the pinnacle of creation. This is an idea which we did not develop in our monograph, Creation and the Heart of Man. Nevertheless, it is an idea which bears pointing out, especially on one of her feast days.
Today, 21 November, is the feast of the Entrance of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple. The Troparion (principle hymn) of the feast says this:
Today is the preview of the goodwill of God,
Of the preaching of the salvation of mankind.
The Virgin appears in the Temple of God,
In anticipation proclaiming Christ to all.
Let us rejoice and sing to her:
Rejoice, O divine fulfillment
of the Creator’s dispensation.
As I was singing this hymn at Liturgy this morning, I was struck by the last line. Why specify that the Theotokos was the divine fulfillment of the Creator’s dispensation? Why not say simply that she was the fulfillment of God’s dispensation? I admit that the question rattled around the back of my mind through the rest of the Liturgy until, that is, we came to the hymn to the Theotokos that is sung during the anaphora and which is taken from the canon of the feast. It says this:
The angels beheld the entrance of the pure one and were amazed.
How has the Virgin entered into the Holy of Holies?
As you are a living temple of God
Let no impure hand touch you, O Theotokos.
But let the lips of all believers sing,
Constantly magnifying you in joy
With the angelic salutation;
Truly you are above all creatures, O pure one!
And there, in the last line, is the answer to the question. The Theotokos is the fulfillment of the Creator’s dispensation because she is herself the pinnacle of creation, the pure one who would be able to say “yes” to God: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word.” She is the one whom all the ages had awaited to undo the “no” uttered by our first parents in Paradise. Her “fiat” made possible the Incarnation of Christ, Who, through His passion, death and Resurrection, would save not only mankind, but effect the restoration of the whole creation.
That is why she is “more honorable than the cherubim and more glorious beyond compare than the seraphim.” That is why she is “above all creatures.”
And that is why we keep her feast.