Posted by: Fr Chris | September 7, 2019

The Wounded Heart and Our Blessed Lady, given to us

Sept 8

Today is the 13th Sunday after Pentecost, Nativity of Our Lady, and Sunday Before Exaltation of the Cross – So I guess I should give 3 sermons!

Nativity of Theotokos - Russian Orthodox Church of Three Saints Храм Трех Святителей

Saint Ann and Saint Joachim thank God for the birth of their daughter, Mary 

Seriously – these two feasts rarely coincide. But each of course is intimately related to Our Lord. The birth of Our Lady is hailed in Ode 3 of the Matins as: your conception is ineffable (or unable to be fully expressed), your birth was all-holy, your childbearing was beyond our understanding, for the God of all became flesh in you. Mary’s greatness is not only in being the Theotokos, the Mother of God, the one who carried God in her womb,  and being ever-virgin before, during and after that pregnancy, but also in her individual holiness. That’s reflected in the choice of verses taken for the feast from Luke. Jesus praises Mary of Bethany for her choice of being still and listening to the Word of God as Christ speaks. That ties in with Luke, chapter 2, verse 19: Mary treasured all these words, and pondered them in her heart. The second set of verses, Blessed is the womb that bore you,  from Luke chapter 11, is the woman acclaiming Jesus’ mother for her role, which is a common thing in Judaism. The mothers of great rabbis are honored. But Christ turns that compliment aside, emphasizing instead the importance of hearing His words and acting on them.

About St. Macarius - Macarian Apologetics

On Friday we will be honoring the life-giving Cross and its exaltation. That is one of the paradoxes of Christianity for non-Christians, and even for some Christians. Why honor the Cross, an instrument of torture on which Jesus suffered a most painful death? The Vespers on Friday night will tell us why: O most venerable Cross of the Lord, the angels surround you with joy at your elevation today. You raise up those had fallen and had been delivered to death for having eaten of the forbidden tree. Therefore we praise you. By God’s plan, death that had come from a tree would be healed by a Tree, and suffering would be healed by the suffering of the Lord.

Without Mary and her willingness to assent to  conceiving the Son of the Most High in her womb, we do not have Jesus. Without that Cross of suffering, we do not have salvation.  Without Christ’s constant self-giving, we would not have the Divine Liturgy and the gift of Holy Communion. What do we receive in Communion? As Saint John Chrysostom’s prayer makes clear: this is Your most precious Body and Your life-giving Blood. This is the body and blood which He received from Mary in her virginal womb.


In the Eucharistic miracles that have taken place in the last 1200 years, the consecrated host turns to flesh, and the consecrated wine to blood. Those transformed sacred gifts have been subjected to scientific analysis in the last 50 years, and the test results are always the same: the flesh is from the heart, from the left side where the ventricle pumps blood out, and it is always not only flesh from the heart, but a heart undergoing tremendous stress and in the death agony. The blood is always AB blood, the most common blood type among Jewish men in first-century Palestine, but the blood type of only 4% of humans today. People with AB blood can receive any blood, and AB blood is used for treatment of wounds. When we come then to Communion, we receive not only the Body and Blood which Christ received from Our  Blessed Lady, but His Most Sacred Heart, wounded for us on the Cross, His Heart that suffered on the Cross we will exalt on Friday, a tiny piece of which our parish is privileged to have. That Precious Blood is the Blood that heals our wounds, any wound, the Blood poured out on the cross.

Liturgies end pretty quickly after Holy Communion. That is so we will go outside changed and transformed by this Eucharist, and go into the world as living tabernacles. As Byzantine Catholics, we go especially under the protection of the Holy Mother of God. She is the Mother of the Clergy, Mother of the faithful, guardian and helper, protector, the one who perpetually prays for us at the throne of God in heaven, as the title of our church, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, makes clear. And she is given to us today especially as a model, as one who prayed on earth, who pondered in her heart the mysteries she experienced, and who heard the word of God throughout her life, who carried the word of God for nine months, who raised the word of God, and who acted upon what the Eternal Word told her.


She was the first tabernacle of the living God on earth. When we leave here today, may we turn to her and ask her to help us to be spiritual tabernacles, who will carry Christ to all whom we meet, and that we will ponder in our hearts the great treasure of the Catholic Faith which has been freely given to us, and grow in love for Christ and His wounded heart, and live in actions that reflect His teachings, and His heart .

Christ is among us.

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